Shropshire Railways History Past and present

                           Wellington to Nantwich

By the mid 1850’s Wellington had become an important junction for several lines, boasting up to 180 arrivals or departures at its peak. In June 1861 parliament approved the building of the Nantwich to Market Drayton Railway; a year later the Wellington to Market Drayton section was incorporated into this, both being supported by the GWR. The 11 mile branch from Nantwich to Market Drayton opened on 20th  October 1863, followed by the 16 mile stretch down to Wellington four years later. The North Staffordshire Railway reached Market Drayton from Stoke three years later. The first stop north was Crudgington where a farmer’s cooperative was set up sending milk and cheese as far south as London. After 1935 a creamery was set up and ran until it was demolished in 2015. North of Crudgington came Peplow, a rural village which attracted very few passengers onto the railway. The next station at Hodnet was considerably busier, particularly on market days. Trains came to Hodnet from Stoke as well as from Wellington and Nantwich. The trains from Stoke were granted permission to avoid waits of up to two hours for a connection from Market Drayton. North of Hodnet came the station at Tern Hill, sadly now completely demolished due mainly to road improvements at the busy A53/A41 Junction where the station was situated. Like Peplow, passenger numbers were very small at Tern Hill, although the building of a nearby aerodrome did boost the usage give this station in the 1920’s. Market Drayton was a busy market town, hence its name, and was sited at the junction with both the Nantwich and Stoke lines, the junction being just to the North East of the station. Like Tern Hill, there is nothing left of Market Drayton station sadly. Unfortunately the developers got in before the preservationists and the site is now another hideous modern retail park. You can though still see the approach to the station from the road viaduct on the western side up to the modern car park. The next stop north was at Adderley, a station that served Adderley Hall. Once again there is very little evidence of a station here; the same also applying at the next stop north in Audlem. The town does though contain what appears to be the only still standing railway viaduct on the route. At its peak in the 1920’s there were six stopping trains a day each way between Wellington and Nantwich. Sadly passenger numbers slumped in the 1930’s, forcing the GWR to open up new halts in the hope of reversing that trend. Alas the new halts made little difference and the future of the line looked bleak. The line survived the Second World War, but trade didn’t pick up in the post war period. However, there was a temporary saviour from the most unlikely source, electrification!  As the West Coast Mainline was being electrified on the nearby stretch at Crewe the Wellington to Nantwich Line saw a revival in passenger numbers. For a while it looked as if the line might survive the forthcoming Beeching Cuts, but sadly it didn’t last. Passenger numbers fell once again and the inevitable closure came on 9th September 1963. Freight services only survived for another four years. Little remains of this line sadly, particularly in terms of its stations, leaving plenty for the imagination when you try to walk its path. The most southerly section of the line in North Telford was turned into part of the Silkin Way from Wellington to Bratton. Nearly all of the remainder of the line is now on private land, thus making it very difficult to follow the route by foot. The plans to make the Cheshire Section a public footpath was dropped by council leaders who felt the path was uninteresting and would not be used enough. The money, it appears, has been spent on the preservation of the canal systems in South Cheshire instead!
History
The line heading North from Hodnet www.shropshirerailways.co.uk Peplow Crudgington Wellington Hodnet Audlem Adderley Market Drayton Nantwich Tern Hill