Shropshire Railways History Past and present

                           Wellington to Stafford

The line was born by an act of parliament in 1846 to be built by the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company (SUR&CC). The line opened on 1 st  June 1849 with much optimism, particularly as it was seen as a good boost to local agriculture and industries, not to mention providing a direct line to London, the only link to the capital in its early days. Trains ran from Shrewsbury on the new line built from the county town to Oakengates, before switching to the 14 ½ mile track from Wellington to Stafford. At Stafford passengers could transfer to the LNWR for trains to Euston in the Capital. By 1854 the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway finally reached Birmingham after five years of endless problems with its construction. When the line opened it came in direct competition with the Wellington to Stafford route and a price war began. Many passengers prefered the shorter route through Birmingham to the Midlands and London, thus forcing the SUR&CC to drop its prices substantially. This led to an increase in passenger numbers using the Stafford route, but not a significant increase in financial gain for the company! The route from Wellington saw the line go through stations at Hadley and Trench before it passed through the countryside on its way to Newport. Sadly little is left of these stations, although track remains up to the modern freight depot at Trench and the MOD at Donnington. As the line pushes Eastwards through Staffordshire it reaches Gnosall where it crosses The Shropshire Union Canal, here providing a link northwards to Mersyside as well as a link southwards to Wolverhampton and the West Midlands. Sadly both the station and the viaduct over the A518 at Gnosall were demolished, although some artifacts from the station were saved. The last station before Stafford was Haughton, a small but expanding village during the lifetime of the railway. Little is left of the station here, but there is evidence underfoot if you scan the area carefully. The double arched road viaduct has thankfully survived intact. The approach to Stafford is a little disappointing as the footpath on the old line comes to an abrupt end leaving you about a mile away from Stafford Station. Most of this mile stretch is on waste ground which is inaccessible by foot. However as you approach Stafford Station from the north you can see the start of the line with track still intact. The section from Newport to Stafford has been opened as a cyclepath and a walkway for its entire length (apart from that last mile into Stafford Station!) Recent improvements by both county councils has made this possible, but the future of the line is still very uncertain. Campainers are seeking a reinstatement of the line to provide a better path to London avoiding the West Midlands. However many obsticles would have to be overcome for this dream ever to reach reality. Proposed house building schemes on the trackbed in Stafford could easily scupper any reinstatement plans. The one thing for certain is that we are a long way from this lines final chapter; I await future development plans with interest.
Viaduct at Haughton Station