Very soon after publishing the first article about the Coalport Branch,  I was contacted by David Clarke with an offer of relevant photographs from his collection.
David Clarke is the author of a relatively recent book, “The Railways of Telford” which I reviewed soon after we moved to Telford. It was an invaluable first step for me in exploring the railways and plateways (tramroads/tramways) of the area. 
In the remaining articles about the Branch, relevant photographs for David’s collection will be included in the main article. As those relevant to Part 1 appeared after its publication, there are two of these and they are included in this addendum to Part 1.
In addition to David’s photographs, I have found further images on line which I am permitted to share with you. The first is an aerial image from 1949 of the Castle Car Works at Hadley which incidentally includes Hadley Junction.
I will add any further images relating to the first article about the Coalport Branch which come to light here.
David Clarke; The Railways of Telford; Crowood Press, Marlborough, Wiltshire, 2016.
The history of the Coalport Branch begins with competition between rival rail companies in the area during the mid 1850’s. The GWR had control of the industrial areas of East Shropshire, whereas the LNWR only had access to the area via the Shropshire Canal which ran from Trench down to Coalport. The first article in this short series about the Branch covered the history of the line as well as following the line from its junction with the LNWR main line at Hadley as far as Malins Lee Station. It can be found on this link:
The history of the LNWR branch line is built on the story of the Canal and it is with that story that any investigation should begin. Separate articles cover the route of the Canal. The first of these can be found on this link:
Loops of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal adjacent to, and South of, Malins Lee Railway Station
A Loop of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal near Stirchley Ironworks
Andy Tidy surveyed the route of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal in March 2012 the majority of which lies underneath the formation of the LNWR Coalport Branch. He highlighted two areas worthy of note. The first adjacent to Hinkshay/Stirchley Pools and the second to the South of Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station where the Canal was in tunnel during its working life. 
Adjacent to the Hinkshay Pools, the Canal alignment deviated from the formation of the later Railway. Andy Tidy provided a plan (below) of the location which I have annotated with the key features he refers to. His pictures of the canal deviation can be seen here. 
Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station
Dawley and Stirchley railway station was opened in 1861 and closed to passengers in 1952.  When it opened, it was given the name ‘Stirchley’. The station was renamed Dawley & Stirchley in 1923, although closed to passengers as early as 1952 the line through the station site was not finally closed to freight until 1964. Although the goods service which originally served Coalport was restricted to only travelling to Dawley and Stirchley Station in 1960.
The London and North Western Railway Society comments on the standard-gauge Coalport Branch as follows: “The first half of the route was originally part of the Shropshire Canal which the LNWR bought in 1857 and filled in, the line opening four years later. The passenger service, referred to locally as the Dawley Dodger, consisted of four trains on weekdays, the journey taking 30 minutes. It was withdrawn in 1952 but a string of private sidings between Wellington and Stirchley helped to keep that section open a further twelve years.” 
Through Telford Town Park and on through Dawley and Stirchley Station, the old railway line is now part of The Silkin Way. 
In the first half of the 19th century, before the LNWR branch line was built the tramway had a wharf on the Western bank of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal which was sited a little to the Northwest of the bottom of the map extract above. When the Coalport Branch of the LNWR was built the tramway was extended a little to run alongside the standard-gauge railway.
The Stirchley Canal Tunneland later Railway Cutting
Immediately South of the overbridge the station loop continued as shown on the 6″ Ordnance Survey (1883) map extract below.
A very short distance further South, the Canal which preceded the railway entered a 281 yard long tunnel – Stirchley Tunnel. When the railway was built, the tunnel was opened out into a cutting. At this location the Ordnance Survey mapping shows a rock face to the West side of the line.
There is little remaining of the canal structure at this location. However Andy Tidy points out that cottages adjacent to the site are called ‘Tunnel Cottages’ and that “a careful inspection of the west wall of the cutting reveals the unmistakable curve of the old canal tunnel as it was carved out of solid rock spanning 10ft at the waterline.” 
Aqueduct village and the GWR Madeley Branch
The OS Map extract below shows the next length of the branch line. To the South of what had been Stirchley Canal Tunnel there was a canal junction. One arm of the canal turned West and ran across towards Lightmoor, the other arm first turned East and then South down the incline near Windmill Farm. Neither branch survived the coming of the railway. The hamlet of Aqueduct straddled the old turnpike road to Bridgnorth which passed under the canal arm to the West. The aqueduct used to carry the canal is still standing in the 21st century although the old turnpike road is not in use as a modern highway. The railway cut through the village of Aqueduct as shown on the map extract.
South of Southall Road Chapel Lane crossed the old railway at level.
Immediately South of the modern A4169, the old Coalport Branch crossed what was the GWR Madeley Branch. The abutments of the bridge remain and can be seen by trekking from the South towards the still remaining Madeley Branch.
Madeley Court Iron Works
In 1845-6, James Foster built three blast furnaces near the newly opened mines on his Madeley Court estate. They replaced his Wombridge furnaces, and Foster moved workmen and plant from Wombridge to create a modern ironworks. For most of their life only two of the three furnaces were in blast together. All the Madeley Court pig iron was sent to the Fosters’ ironworks in Staffordshire and Worcestershire to be blended with other types for the manufacture of high quality bar. The ironworks ceased working in 1902 but in 1912 were taken over by Thomas Parker, an electrical engineer. He and his son C. H. Parker established Court Works Ltd., a foundry firm which, seventy years later, had long specialized in iron castings for the electrical industry. 
The tramroads in this are will feature in a future article in the series about Telford’s tramroads/tramways. An overview of the wider area’s tramroads/tramways/plateways can be found on this link:
Historic England records this Grade II* listed building as being, “Mainly C16 with traces of C13 fabric. Built as a grange to Wenlock Priory. At the Dissolution bought in 1553 by Sir Robert Brooke, Speaker in the House of Commons, and stayed in the Brooke family until early C19. Tenanted by Abraham Darby I from 1709 until his death. Large ashlar house, at time of survey (1980) being restored. Tiled roofs with gables with parapet coping. Large brick shafted chimney stacks. Two-storeys and attics. L-shaped on plan, originally on west wing as well. The north-west hall range extensively rebuilt. Gabled stone attic windows with finials. Large stone mullion transom windows with dripmoulds. Early C17 stone porch to right hand of hall range with moulded round arch and ornate gables with volutes, pediments and strapwork foliage decoration. The east wing contains large C16 timber newel staircase and rooms with bolection moulded panelling and chimney piece.” 
Madeley Court to Bridge Street/High Street, Madeley
Returning to the route of the Coalport Branch, we continue to follow the old line in a South-southeasterly direction.
The Coalport Branch crossed Bridge Street on a single-span girder bridge. The road is now known as High Street. These next few pictures show the location through the years.
In a very short distance, the line passed through Madeley Market Station. The line was single through the station and a small goods yard was provided immediately South of the station on the West side of the line.
We complete this segment of the journey having looked at Madeley Market Station. The next leg of the journey will take us to Coalport East Railway Station as the end of the branch line. This can be found on this link:
http …………………….to be added once the next article is completed………………………………………
Bob Yate; The Shropshire Union Railway: Stafford to Shrewsbury including the Coalport Branch; Oakwood Press, Usk, 2003.
The history of the Coalport Branch begins with competition between rival rail companies in the area during the mid 1850’s. The GWR had control of the industrial areas of East Shropshire, whereas the LNWR only had access to the area via the Shropshire Canal which ran from Trench down to Coalport.
The Canal was going into disrepair and suffering from water shortages and subsidence. Canals in the area were difficult to maintain as the various mines in the area were causing significant subsidence.
The LNWR decided that it was best to discontinue costly maintenance and instead to build a railway line along the length of the Canal from Hadley to Coalport. Parts of the Canal were converted into railway track bed.
The use of a canal to provide a route for the railway was something that a number of railway companies pursued. In this case, the Canal provided a route for the railway down the East side of Dawley through what is now Telford Town Park, taking it past Aqueduct, Madeley and onto Coalport by the River Severn.
It is important not to confuse the LNWR station at Coalport with that on the opposite bank of the River Severn. The Severn Valley Railway chose to name its station ‘Coalport’ when it was subsequently built. Two stations with the same name on opposite sides of the river.
Eight months later, the LNWR decided to call their station on the north bank of the river Coalport East. It appears that at one time there were ambitious plans to join the two stations together by a bridge. These never came to fruition.
The LNWR branch opened as a single track on 17th June 1861. Unfortunately passenger numbers were low, but passengers were not the main reason for constructing the line. Freight traffic was expected to make the line profitable. The slow speed of the trains was not commensurate to passenger use, neither was the steep incline down to Coalport. Apparently, “some passengers were frightened to go on in case the train didn’t stop at the bottom!” 
The passenger service on the line closed on 2nd June 1952. Freight traffic continued until 1964.
The southern section of the line, from the northern end of Telford Town Park is now on the Silkin Way, a walkway named after Lord Silkin who was a pioneer of the Telford New Town development in the 1960’s. The northern length of the line has been lost under the development of the New Town. Part of the northern length of the line, North of Oakengates, is now a section of the A442 dual carriageway.
The Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal.
The history of the LNWR railway branch line is built on the story of the Canal and it is with that story that any investigation should begin. Separate article cover the route of the Canal and the first of these can be found on this link:
Wellington Railway Station to Hadley Railway Station
Wellington Railway Station was the junction station for the Coalport Branch passenger services. The bay platform on the South side of the Wellington Station site was shared with the GWR Coalbrookdale line (Wellington & Severn Junction Railway). The station and the line to its East are covered in the link below:
Coalport East trains left the Shrewsbury to Birmingham line and for a short distance, to Hadley Junction, travelled along the line from Wellington to Stafford. After passing through Hadley Railway Station trains took to the Branch which curved away to the South of the main line.
Hadley Railway Station to Wombridge (Goods)
Experience shows that it is very difficult to plot a line on the ground when significant development has taken place. For the first section of this line the redevelopment from the 1960s into the 21st century has been very significant. In this article I have relied on modern satellite images provided by railmaponline.com.  As usual, historic mapping comes from the NLS (National Library of Scotland).
Hadley Railway Station served the former Stafford to Shrewsbury Line and was the start of the branch to Coalport. The station was opened in 1849 and closed in 1964. The line through Hadley was closed from 1964, with the last remaining stretches of track being taken up in 1991. In the late 2000s a stretch of track was re-laid to the Telford International Railfreight Park for freight purposes only. 
Telford International Railfreight Park (known as TIRFP) is rail freight depot and construction development site located in Donnington to the north of Telford, on the former route of the Stafford to Shrewsbury Line. The terminal was opened in 2009. 
A later view (1963) of the bridge which was shared on the Hadley History Group by Tony Handley on 22nd March 2021. 
An even later image (1986) of the same bridge with the new pedestrian/cycleway bridges in place. This view was shared on the Hadley History Facebook Group by Lynne Purcell on 5th February 2021. 
Wombridge Church and Priory
Wombridge Priory was a small Augustinian monastery established in the early 12th century, it was supported by a network of minor nobility and was never a large community. Despite generally good financial management, it fell within the scope of the Suppression of Religious Houses Act 1535 and was dissolved in the following year. 
The priory was dedicated to St Leonard. St Leonard was particularly popular in the 12th century following the release of Bohemond I of Antioch, a captured crusader – a circumstance which he seems to have attributed to the saint’s intercession. White Ladies Priory, another Shropshire Augustinian house, was also dedicated to St Leonard, as was the parish church at Bridgnorth,  and at a later date, Malinslee Parish Church. Remains of the priory buildings remained visible until the 19th century but are now hidden beneath the churchyard and other development. They were excavated in the 1930s and again in 2011 and 2012. 
The church was designated to St. Mary and St. Leonard and was built in 1869 by George Bidlake. It is the fourth church on the site of the Priory.
The bridge which carried the Coalport Branch over what was once Wombridge Road was demolished to make way for the A442 Queensway.
We continue on our journey along the old Coalport Branch with a ground-level shot along the A442 showing the line of the old railway.
A Brown’s Sentinel bus crosses the Stafford Road bridge in Oakengates in March 1963. For much of his married life, Ron Dean was in the driving seat. And his wife Greta was his conductor. The camera is pointing towards the South. 
This photograph is taken from a point just off the left of the above image and also looks East up Station Hill across the railway line, which was by the time the picture was taken, closed. The image was shared on the Telford memories Facebook Group by Marcus Keane on 13th November 2016. 
This photo does not have the best of definition, but it is worth including as it shows the view South across the Brickworks before redevelopment work in the area. The Shrewsbury to Birmingham line curves away to the East. The A5 bridge over the Coalport Branch is visible at the bottom of the image. 
From this point South the A442 now occupies the space which once was used by the Coalport Branch. The Northbound slip road from the A442 can be seen following the line of the old railway on the Railmaponlin.com satellite image below.
Old Darklane Colliery and Brickworks
The Colliery was opened in 1855 and closed finally in 1885. The owners were: Beriah Botfield (1855-1860]; Leighton and Grenfell (1869-1870); and Haybridge Iron Co. Ltd (1875-1885). 
Dark Lane Village
Dark Lane Village was lost in its entirety to the redevelopment which produced Telford. Dark Lane Row and the Methodist Chapel appear at the bottom of the OS map extract above. The remainder of the village features at the top of the OS Map extract below. Malins Lee Station was on the South side of the village. Little Dark Lane Colliery to the West. There were three long rows of cottages which were known locally as: Long Row (about 550ft long and containing 20 houses); Bottom Row (a little over 500ft long and containing 25 houses); and Short Row (nine houses built by the Botfield family in around 1825). A full description of the village and pictures of the buildings can be found on the Dawleyhistory.com website. 
‘The Miner’s Walk‘ website provides more information about the area around Dark Lane village.  It includes a hand-drawn overlay of modern roads over the Ordnance Survey of the 1880s.
We have reached the end of this article. Two further articles will cover the remaining length of the LNWR Branch to Coalport East. The next article can be found on this link:
Bob Yate; The Shropshire Union Railway: Stafford to Shrewsbury including the Coalport Branch; Oakwood Press, Usk, 2003.
Peter Clowes, in his article in the September 1963 edition of the Railway Magazine wrote: “Rolling down from the Derbyshire hills came the “gang” a train of perhaps 20 wagons, their rough iron bodies piled high with skilfully stacked lumps of grey limestone. They lurched and swayed on the flanged steel track and forced the brakeman in charge of the train to cling firmly to the leading wagon on which he perched. This is how the villagers of the High Peak remember the clattering, dusty Peak Forest Tramway, built by Benjamin Outram, that was part of the life of the district for 125 years.” 
He goes on to explain that the tramway was only ever used for goods, no passengers were carried except when company officials undertook tours of inspection. The line carried lime and limestone from Buxton’s quarries and kilns down to the Peak Forest Canal at Bugsworth for ongoing transport on barges to Lancashire and beyond.
Wikipedia provides a sketch map of the route of the tramway which is reproduced below.
The next (adjacent) sketch map is more informative. It was included in a post about the line on the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society website. It shows the locations of a number of key features on the route of the tramway. 
Benjamin Outram’s original intentions were to build a canal from Ashton-under-Lyne through to Chapel Milton, now a ‘suburb’ of Chapel-en-le-Frith.  He sought and received and Act of Parliament to this effect, dated 28th March 1794. That Act authorised the construction of the canal, which would have been 22 miles long, and the construction of a feeder tramway/plateway from the canal to Load’s Knowle (Dove Holes), near Buxton. Gradients between Chapel Milton and Buxton were severe and unsuited to canal construction.
However, Outram decided to reduce construction costs by terminating the Peak Forest Canal at Bugsworth and building his tramway for the whole of the remaining six miles to Dove Holes. Clowes tells us that, “The line was opened on August 31, 1796, and was an immediate success. Hundreds of tons of stone were brought down to Bugsworth every day. Sometimes there were as many as 20 barges – each with a capacity of 20 tons leaving the village for Lancashire.” 
Wikipedia tells us that “the tramway was initially single-track, on a 4 ft 2 in (1,270 mm) gauge, constructed of stone sleeper blocks and L-section cast-iron rails that were fastened directly onto the blocks, in the same manner as [Outram’s] Little Eaton Gangway built for the Derby Canal. The rails, known as gang rails or plates, were provided by Benjamin Outram and Company who also supplied the mineral wagons.” However, in 1803, the significant traffic volumes on the line required the single line to be “made double-track, with the exception of Stodart Tunnel and below Buxton Road Bridge, using the same method of fixing the rails.” 
When Outram’s Peak Forest Canal Company was building the Peak Forest Tramway, between 1794 and 1796, it cut into a bed of gritstone by the hamlet of Lower Crist, about 380 yards to the east of the terminus of the Peak Forest Canal at Bugsworth. The stone apparently “had good non-slip properties and was easy to cut because it had no grain. … This bed extended south of the main line of the tramway at Lower Crist and a branch line was made into it. The Company also discovered another deposit of the same stone adjoining the nearby hamlet of Barren Clough, which is situated between Lower Crist and the canal terminus. Consequently, they purchased land there as well but it was another 56 years before Barren Clough Quarry was opened.” 
Clowes comments that a considerable trade in this gritstone developed as it was located so close to the Tramway and Canal. “Thousands of 6 in. square setts for the cobbled streets of the country’s growing cities were carried … to the wharfs.” 
“Bugsworth a sleepy little village, renamed Buxworth, … became a hive of industry.”  
It was originally intended to extend the tramway to Buxton as and when demand for minerals grew. A further extension to Ashopton in the Hope Valley over the Rushup Moors by way of Sparrowpit , Mam Tor and Lose Hill was also planned. “These extensions never materialised and the plans were finally abandoned when the Cromford & High Peak Railway was built in 1830.” 
Clowes provided a vivid description of what travelling with the “gang” must have been like. A quite exhilarating experince! “Teams of horses pulled the loaded wagons from the Dove Holes quarries to the highest point of the line about a quarter of a mile away. Here the horses were unhitched. The brakeman gave the “gang” a push and then leaped onto the leading axle pin as the train of anything from 16 to 40 wagons gathered speed. At first the track curved gently through a long limestone cutting, then under the main Buxton to Chapel-en-le-Frith road by means of a stone arch bridge and down into the woods of Barmoor Clough between dry stone walls about 20ft. apart. This section of the line was closely followed by the London & North Western Railway when its spur was constructed from Stockport to Buxton, more than 50 years after the tramway was built. Until the tramway ceased operations in 1920, trains and “gangs” ran alongside each other separated only by a moss-covered wall.” 
As we will see in a future article about the line, “where the railway swings left into a tunnel, the tramway continued around the shoulder of a hill that shadows the birch and sycamore clad gorge which plunges down to Blackbrook. … The “gang” ran on down a steady 1-in-60 gradient to marshalling yards at the end of a 900-ft. ridge overlooking Chapel-en-le Frith. Here were workshops, stables, a permanent way store, and other buildings of the tramway company.” 
“An inclined plane, 500 yd. long and worked by a wire rope that ran around an 18 ft.-wide wooden drum, controlled the descent of loaded wagons to the foot of the slope. The rope was 2 in. in diameter and weighed six tons. No more than eight wagons were allowed in a run on the incline. The loaded vehicles would be balanced with an appropriate number of empties whenever possible. The weight of the descending wagons pulled the empties up the slope. Sometimes horses were harnessed to the driving drum to provide additional power. If the weight of the wagons became too great and the train started to run away, a lever-operated brake would be applied in the wooden control cabin that stood on stilts just beyond the top of the 1-in-7 incline. Sometimes, however, this proved ineffective. With an ever-increasing roar the wagons would race downhill, then jump the rails and scatter their loads far and wide.” 
Clowes narrative continues from the small town of Chapel-en-le-Frith: “After negotiating the plane the “gangs” were reassembled in the Townend sidings and were started again on the journey to Bugsworth under their own momentum. Soon they were clattering across Bowden Lane and through a copse of oak and elm.” 
“A mile west of Chapel was Stodhart Tunnel which the wagons entered through a steep sided cutting, the slopes of which were covered with ivy and rhododendron bushes. For 100 yards the “gangs” thundered in darkness. Then they were out into daylight and speeding along the fastest part of the track through Chapel Milton. There were sidings here across the road from the old Spread Eagle Inn-and two or three wagons of lime might be shunted off the main line to await the arrival of local farmers with horse and cart. The tramway continued through the pleasant fields of Bridgeholm, across the Whitehough road and along the banks of Black Brook to Bugsworth. The whole journey might take three hours, allowing for delays on the plane.” 
At Bugsworth, the tramway divided into extensive sidings and there were many loading berths. where limestone was tipped into large canal-side storage bays below the level of the track. Clowes tells us that “one of the most interesting features of this inland port was a simple yet ingenious tipping wheel which consisted of two vertical, spoked wheels about 16 ft. high attached to a frame which ran on a special rail track. The frame was pushed over a line of wagons which had been run on to a pier over the canal basin, and a hook was fastened to the end of each wagon in turn. A rope led from the hook over a drum which linked the two main wheels. A man would climb up the spokes of one of the vertical wheels, so making it turn like a human gin. This lifted one end of the wagon off the rails, its hinged end-plate swung open and the contents of the vehicle spilled into the hold of a barge below.” 
Bugsworth Basin was surrounded by merchants’ offices and warehouses. The offices housed a series of different merchants supplying limestone, lime, coal and general merchandise. Further buildings housed workshops for track and rolling-stock repair; and stables for a horses which were used to transport goods and wagons back up the line to Dove Holes.
Outram’s plateways used L-shaped flanged track on which the wagons ran. The rails were 4 ft. 2 in. apart and initially made of cast-iron. Each rail was 3 ft. long and weighed 56 lb. Clowes tells us that, “the inner flange was raised 2 in. above the 3 in. wide running surface on which the flat wheels of the wagons ground their way. The rails were secured at the joints by cast-iron chairs which sat on stone block sleepers, each one about 18 in. square. An iron spike with a tapering head was driven through the end of each rail into an oak plug seated inside the sleeper. The clatter of “gangs” passing over these primitive joints must have been fearful and, understandably enough, rail breakages were frequent.” 
It wasn’t until the five year period between 1865 and 1870 that the line was relaid with 9 ft. long steel rails. These were rolled at Gorton and fishplates, 1ft 6ins long were used to connect the rails. “Between the stone sleeper blocks was laid a cobbled path which enabled the horses to get a firm grip. The cobbles were raised well above the level of the sleepers, in fact about an inch higher than the rail flange. This arrangement might have helped to guide wagon wheels back on to the track following derailments.” 
Clowes explains that wagons used on the tramway were very crudely constructed: “Each weighed between 16 and 20 cwt. when empty, and carried about 2 tons. Three sides of the body were sheets of cast iron held together by iron bands and two large wooden chocks. The fourth side was a hinged iron gate which swung open when the vehicle was tipped to unload its cargo. The body was bolted in farm-cart style to wooden axle beams. The wheels – some were cast iron, others were of wood with wrought-iron tyres – ran loose on iron pins projecting from the axle beams. They were secured by large washers and cotter pins. The “gangs” were coupled together by two short iron chains fastened at each end of the wagon beds. There was no proper braking system. Until the last days of working, the running wagons could be halted only by a perilous practice on the part of the brakeman. He would leap from his perch on the leading axle pin and thrust iron sprags into the spokes of the spinning wheels. This would lock the wheels and skid the “gang” to a stop.” 
The Route from Bugsworth to Dove Holes
Peter Clowes has given us a description of the journey from Dove Holes to Bugsworth.  As we have already noted, it would have been an exciting ride for the brakesman/ brakesmen in charge of the trams. The journey back up the gradient from Bugsworth to Dove Holes would have been much more of a toil and would have relied on horsepower. The route will be covered in greater detail, illustrated, where possible by contemporary plans and maps. In addition, as many modern photographs as is practical will be included and the journey will probably need to be divided into at least two articles.
Bugsworth Basin is shown below on an extract from the 1898 25″ OS Map which was surveyed in 1896. The concentration of tramway sidings is remarkable and suggests that, in the years before the turn of the 20th century, this was a very dynamic, busy and noisy place!
“Starting in 1968, volunteers of the Inland Waterways Protection Society restored the canal and basins culminating in the re-opening to navigation in 2005. Now that restoration of navigation has been achieved, improvements and development continues”  under the auspices of the Bugsworth Basin Heritage Trust (BBHT). Their plan of the site is shown below.
Before heading east from Bugsworth Basin two particular things are worthy of note:
First, just beyond the Navigation Inn on the North side of the Upper Basin, there is a well-preserved example of a tramway wharf where goods were loaded and unloaded.
Second, the skew arch bridges which carry a branch tramway which served lime kilns.
Leaving Bugworth Basin, the Tramway passed to the North of Lower Crist Quarry. Its branch tramway left the mainline to the East of the junction with the limekiln tramway branch as shown below.
Both the Barren Clough Quarry and the Crist Quarry (and the tunnel which gave access to the Barren Clough Quarry are covered in detail in an article by Peter J. Whitehead, “Crist and Barren Clough Quarries, High Peak, Derbyshire.”  It seems as though Barren Clough Quarry was not opened until the Company believed that Christ Quarry was close to exhaustion. Barren Clough was opened 56 years after Crust Quarry. It was served by a single-track tramway branch. The branch “commenced at a point 80 yards to the east of the terminus of the Peak Forest Canal. At a distance of 145 yards from the main line, it entered the tunnel before arriving on the quarry floor. Although the tunnel was relatively short, a vertical shaft was first sunk at a distance of 76 yards from the north portal (just under half way) to enable it to be excavated from four faces at once rather than at each end. When the tunnel was completed this shaft became an airshaft, although this feature was probably unnecessary for such a short tunnel.” 
The two quarry branch tramways are shown on the map extract below.
As the OS Map extract above shows, there was a group of cottages just to the West of the tramway access to Crist Quarry. Those cottages are still in use in 21st Century. The access route to them (shown on the OS Map) has been cut by the A6 Dual Carriageway. They can only now be accessed from Bugsworth Basin.
Further East, the Tramroad follows the South side of Black Brook….
Further along the line, it deviated South away from Black Brook so as to pass to the South side of Whitehall Mill.
Along this length of the tramway the formation of the old tramway is exposed with some of the old stone blocks which secured the tramways rails in position visible. The next sequence of photographs show these blocks.
The estate of new housing visible in these pictures is built on the site of Forge Mill. An information board provides details, although the protective Perspex cover to the board has begun to fog over the years.
Forge Mill has seen a variety of different uses over the years. The Derbyshire Historic Environment Record list these as:
BLEACH WORKS (Post Medieval – 1540 AD to 1900 AD) MILL POND (Post Medieval – 1540 AD to 1900 AD) WEIR (Post Medieval – 1540 AD to 1900 AD) PAPER MILL (Post Medieval – 1540 AD to 1900 AD) RAILWAY SIDING (Georgian to Victorian – 1800 AD? to 1900 AD) 
Information about the site was provided as part of the planning application for the new housing estate on the site of the Works . The document is available on High Peak Council’s website.  It confirms that the Forge Mill site was, before redevelopment, known as the Dorma Works. “The site was first developed in the early 1800’s as a paper mill. By the 1900’s the site changed to the production of textiles, a dye and bleach works. The site was sold in the early 20th century to Dorma who produced bed linen and cotton prints.”  After the site was purchased in 2005 it remained unoccupied and was largely demolished in 2010.
A siding was provided to link the mill to the tramway. This can be seen on the OS map above.
This is a convenient point to finish the first part of our journey along the Peak Forest Tramway. There is, of course, much more to come, but this will need to wait for a future article.
Just to round off details of the old tramway’s history, we return first to Peter Clowes’ article in the Railway Magazine and then to other sources ….
The Gradual Demise of the Tramway
“Fifty years after the line was opened, the owners leased the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals – and, of course, the tramway – in perpetuity to the Sheffield, Ashton-under Lyne & Manchester Railway. A Parliamentary Act of 1846 provided for an annuity of £9,325 to be paid to the Peak Forest Canal Company. The railway later became part of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway, and in 1883 the canals and tramway were transferred completely to the new owners. The old canal company was dissolved. The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway became the Great Central Railway in 1897 and was absorbed into the London & North Eastern Railway in 1923.” 
A 1925 Act of Parliament led to the closure of both the Peak Forest Tramway and the canal basin at Bugsworth. Clause 54 of Act 15 & 16 George V cap 52, 31st July 1925 was entitled ‘Abandonment of Peak Forest Tramway’. The Act was to empower the London and North Eastern Railway to construct new railways, widening others and to acquire land. It extended the time for the completion of certain works and it permitted the compulsory purchase of certain lands. Clause 54 stated: “The Company may abandon and discontinue their Peak Forest Tramway extending from Chinley to Dove Holes and may hold, sell or dispose of, or apply to the purposes of their undertaking the site and soil of any part of the said tramway so abandoned and discontinued.” 
After closure in the mid-1920s, records “made at the Marple Toll Office show that between 17th April 1928 and 12th February 1931 there were 30 deliveries of scrap iron from Bugsworth Basin to Prince’s Dock on the Ashton Canal at Guide Bridge. The total quantity of scrap was 523¼ tons, which averaged 17½ tons per boatload. …. At Prince’s Dock the scrap was transhipped onto the railway and from there it was taken to Sheffield for subsequent melting down. The scrap merchant who dismantled the tramway was T W Ward Ltd of Sheffield and it was melted down by Edgar Allen & Co Ltd, steel manufacturers of Sheffield.” 
As we have seen above, it was not until 1968 that work really began on recovering the industrial archaeology of the site and bringing the basin and canal back into navigable use.  The BBHT are proud of the replica wagon that they have relatively recently completed. The chassis of which “has been produced by members using traditional techniques, utilising timber cut from redundant oak lock gate balance beams, courtesy of the Canal & River Trust. The body steelwork has been produced by modern laser cutting, again from drawings by one of our volunteers. We have assembled this “kit” and mounted it onto the chassis.”  The replica wagon is now on display on the peninsula on the South side of the lower basin arm.
There is some excellent coverage of the Tramway and Bugsworth Basin available both online and in print form. This material includes:
Grahame Boyes and Brian Lamb; ‘The Peak Forest Canal and Railway; an Engineering and Business History’; The Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2012, (ISBN 948 0 901461 59 9). £30.00
Peter Clowes; The Peak Forest Limestone Tramway; in The Railway Magazine, Volume 109, September 1963, p611-617. This article can be accessed via a subscription to The Railway Magazine archives which is available as an add-on to a regular subscription to the magazine.
Since publishing a series of articles about the Micklehurst Loop, I have, over the past couple of years, kept my eye open for interesting shots of the line. This is a selection of these that I have permission to share …. A big thank you to copyright holders/photographers. Their details appear with each image.
The first photograph was taken in the middle of the 20th century. The exact date is unknown. It begins our renewed focus on the Micklehurst Loop by showing a goods train leaving the Loop in Stalybridge. …
These next two photos were taken in the yard opposite Hartshead Power Station and show one of their fireless locos and a more normal steam loco, a 0-4-0ST. The pictures were taken by Keith Chambers who writes:
“I visited Hartshead Power Station as a teenager on 22nd May 1971. We had come up from down south (Woking) to spend a day tracking down surviving steam and had already been to Heaps Bridge and seen a working loco, Colyhurst to see a ‘Jinty’ in steam albeit as a stationary boiler and finished our little tour off at Hartshead. My abiding memory is of being guided by one of the station’s staff up and over the high level conveyor to get to the locos. It was spectacular up there and slightly scary. Being a Saturday afternoon nothing much was happening shunting wise and RSH 7661 was in the back of the engine shed along with the fireless HL 3805. There was however another RSH 0-4-0ST present stored in the sidings. This was works number 7646 of 1950.”
To complete this small section on the Power Station, the next photo shows the overhead conveyor which Keith Chambers refers to.
As usual, I will continue to keep an eye open for further interesting images which might add to our appreciation of what was primarily an important short goods line but which was also used as a convenient diversion route for passenger trains.
If you want to read the other articles in this series, you can find them on these links:
The Lilleshall Company was a dominant force in the East Shropshire area and developed a network of canals and tramroads to transport goods between their many different sites. “The company’s origins date back to 1764 when Earl Gower formed a company to construct the Donnington Wood Canal on his estate. In 1802 the Lilleshall Company was founded by the Marquess of Stafford in partnership with four local capitalists.” 
Bob Yate, in his important book, “The Railways and Locomotives of the Lilleshall Company,” introduces the historical development of the transport provision of the Lilleshall Company, referring first to the Company’s canal network. The construction of these canals which, while of some significance, was unable to provide for all of the sites being built and run by the Company.
“In order to reach the workings of the pits, quarries and works that these canals served, a system of tramways was soon developed. These were almost certainly constructed using wrought iron rails from the start, and were definitely of plateway construction.” [1: p36]
Yate goes on to explain that the tramroads/tramways/plateways had various gauges and comments that these short lines “linking the workings to the canals, gradually lengthened as their usefulness became apparent. So it was that in October, 1797 the ironmaster Thomas Botfield agreed with his landlord, Isaac Browne to carry 1,200 tons of coal each month from Malins Lee (about two miles south of Oakengates):to some convenient wharf or quay adjoining the River Severn, and to the railway intended to be made by John Bishton & Co. and the said Thomas Botfield, or to some intermediate wharf or bank between the said works and the River Severn upon the line of the intended railway.” [1: p35]
Yate continues: “This railway was working by 1799, running from Sutton Wharf, near Coalport, to Hollinswood, where it connected with several ironworks and mines to the north in the area of Priorslee. The total length of this line was about eight miles, and it is presumed to have been horse worked. Bishton and Onions, whose ironworks was situated at Snedshill, were certainly involved in the original line, and by 1812 it had become the property of the [Lilleshall] Company. This is recorded on Robert Baugh’s map of 1808, and again on the Ordnance Survey maps of 1814 and 1817, although in the latter two cases it is not shown in its entirety.” [1: p35]
Yate notes that the Company were sending down around 50,000 tons of coal annually and much iron. “However, the Shropshire Canal was not enjoying the most robust of business climates, and attempted in June 1812 to negotiate for the Company’s business, although this seems to have been unsuccessful. However, in April 1815, William Horton on behalf of the [Lilleshall] Company agreed that the tramway would be removed, and that its business would be transferred to the canal. In turn, the Company: received compensation of some £500. as well as favourable tonnage rates.” [1: p35]
This means that the direct tramroad link to the River Severn was very short-lived.
The closure of this mainline tramroad/tramway had little effect on the ‘internal’ network of routes serving the Lilleshall Company’s various pits and works. Yate tells us that, by 1833, the main tramways were: a line running along Freestone Avenue to Lawn Pit, near to Priorslee Hall, and to Woodhouse Colliery; branches east of Stafford Street, Oakengates and north of Freestone Avenue; a continuation of the main line northwards crossing Station Hill, Oakengates to the east of the Shropshire Canal, and on to meet the Wrockwardine inclined plane near to Donnington Wood. [1: p35]
“By 1856, further tramways had been laid around the area of Snedshill Ironworks linking to the canalside warehouses, and branches reaching out to the waste heaps south and west of the ironworks. These spoil heap lines continued to expand in subsequent years around the Priorslee Ironworks, and south therefrom.” [1: p35]
Several of the coal pits in the Donnington Wood area were, by 1837, linked directly to the Old Lodge Furnaces and no longer needed to make use of the canal network. These tramroads were horse-drawn with minor exceptions on short, level runs where trams were manhandled. Yate comments: “It is nonetheless interesting to consider that wayleaves were granted in 1692 at Madeley and in 1749 at Coalbrookdale to permit the use of oxen. Admittedly this was over the roads of the area, but a good case could possibly be made for their employment as motive power on the tramroads, as surely local customs would be a powerful influence.” [1: p35]
Using the canal network became increasingly problematic. The underground workings in the area caused some subsidence and as a consequence canals could require significant repairs and be out if action for a time.
The Lilleshall Company’s tramroads eventually developed into a significant standard-gauge network. The later part of the transport story of the Lilleshall Company is for another time and another article!
In this article we concentrate on, what was, a relatively early (1799 to 1815), wrought-iron plateway tramroad. Perhaps we should bear in mind that it is possible that the Lilleshall Company saw no major financial advantage in lifting the whole line from Sutton Wharf into the Company’s industrial heartland and that elements of this tramroad came to be used as part of a later network of tramroads or railways If this was not true for the wrought-iron plates/rails themselves, it is much more likely that any embankments and cuttings could be used in this way. This may perhaps be something we will discover along the way.
The Tramroad Running North from Sutton Wharf
Savage and Smith provide some information about the line in their research in ‘The Waggon-ways and Plateways of East Shropshire‘. They provide two different series of drawings – the first set are 1″ to a mile plans relating to specific eras in the development of the local tramroads. The extract here is taken from the plan which relating to 1801-1820. [2: p85]
The line is shown in red ink, the Shropshire Canal is the heavy black line. The dotted and dashed thin lines are later railway routes. The short red dashes at the North end of the tramroad indicate that the route of the tramroad is not as certain as the length shown in continuous red ink.
Savage and Smith comment on the tramroad: “In 1808 Robert Baugh’s map of Shropshire shows the line from Oakengates to Sutton Wharf, but not with any great accuracy. Part of it is shown on the two inch ordnance survey of 1814 and 1817, but only as far as Holmer Farm. After this it disappears. Its owners seem to have been the Lilleshall Company and they sent down annually 50,000 tons of coal and much iron. It was agreed to remove it and transfer business to the Shropshire canal for compensation of £500 and a guarantee of favourable rates.” [2: p140]
The second series of plans provided by Savage and Smith are to a scale 6″ to a mile. At this larger scale, it at first seems that they are not prepared to show the same level of certainty over the actual route of the tramroad than on the 1″ to a mile map above. In fact the difference between the two lines shown has as much to do with the scale of the source mapping used. The long dashed red line in the more northerly section of the plans produced here indicates that the route was obtained from a 0.5″ to a mile plan. So they acknowledge that, while the route definitely existed, issues with scaling inevitably mean that there is greater uncertainty over the detailed alignment. We are probably best advised to see the route from Sutton Wharf to Holmer Farm as relatively reliable and to check the detail of the route from that point North. The 6″ to a mile plan is a fold-out plan and because of its length, difficult to photograph.
Savage and Smith also only show the line running to the North of Dark Lane, rather than around the West of Oakengates. With these provisos Savage and Smith show much of the length of the Sutton Wharf tramroad.
My photographs of the 6″ plan are not of the greatest clarity. But the two images provided here give sufficient clarity to make out the significant features that Savage and Smith recorded in the 1960s. [2: p139]
Their contribution is important, as they were able, in their onsite surveys, to record details subsequently lost with the remodelling of the landscape and the construction of new transport arteries by the Telford Development Corporation.
Our investigation of the route of the tramroad begins at its southern end at Sutton Wharf.
Below the key to Savage and Smith’s 6″ to a mile drawings there are a series of maps and satellite images showing the location of the Wharf.
The 6″ Ordnance Surveys of 1881/82, published in 1883 and of 1901, published in 1902 show the railways serving the immediate area to the West and South of Sutton Wharf. The GWR Severn Valley Railway is to the South of the River Severn with its station close to Bridge Inn. The LNWR Coalport Branch is on the North side of the Severn. The two stations are linked by Coalport Bridge.
Coalport Bridge remains in use in the 21st century, the two railways have disappeared. One picture of the bridge as it appears in the 21st century is provided below. The LNWR line is now the Silkin Way which links the River Severn with the centre of Telford. The Severn Valley Railway Coalport Station is, in 2023, a site with a variety of different holiday accommodation available.
As an aside, here are some details about Coalport Bridge as provided on Wikipedia: “Architect and bridge-builder William Hayward (1740–1782) designed the first crossing over the Severn at Coalport, based on two timber framed arches built on stone abutments and a pier. It was originally built by Robert Palmer, a local timber yard owner based in Madeley Wood, and opened in 1780. The bridge, known as Wood Bridge, connected the parish of Broseley on the south bank of the river with the Sheep Wash in the parish of Madeley and Sutton Maddock on the north bank. … The wooden bridge was short-lived and lasted less than 5 years until 1795, when severe winter flooding virtually washed away the mid-stream supporting pier.” 
The bridge remained closed from 1795 until the Trustees had it rebuilt in 1799 “as a hybrid of wood, brick and cast-iron parts, cast by John Onions (Proprietor’s Minute Book 1791–1827). The two original spans were removed and replaced by a single span of three cast iron ribs, which sprang from the original outer sandstone pier bases. The bridge deck was further supported by two square brick piers, the northern one constructed directly on top of the stone pier base and the southern one set back slightly towards the river bank. The remainder of the superstructure was built of wood and may have reused some of the original beams. However, by 1817, this bridge was failing again, attributed to the insufficient number of cast iron ribs proving inadequate for the volume of traffic. Consequently, the bridge proprietors decided to rebuild Coalport Bridge once again, this time completely in iron. The quality of the castings is good, especially by comparison with the castings of the Iron Bridge upstream. The bridge was recently (2005) renovated and the static load lowered by replacing cast iron plates used for the roadway with composite carbon fibre/fibreglass plates, with substantial weight saving.” 
“The date of 1818 displayed on its midspan panel refers to this substantial work which allowed the bridge, subscribed to by Charles Guest, one of the principal trustees, to stand without major repairs for the next 187 years.”  In 2004-2005, during the closure (which lasted about a year), not only were major works undertaken to the span of the bridge, it was also necessary to reconstruct the two brick arches supporting the verges at the south side of the bridge. The bridge “still takes vehicular traffic, unlike the more famous Iron Bridge, albeit limited to a single line of traffic, a 3-tonne weight limit and a height restriction of 6 ft 6in (1.98 cm).” 
From the Wharf, an inclined plane was needed to gain height to the land above the Severn Gorge. The location of the incline is shown below.
The next opportunity to look at the line of the tramroad comes at the point where its route is joined by a footpath which appears on the 1882 Ordnance Survey above and still is in existence today. The route appears on the modern 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey Explorer Series mapping as shown below.
Two collieries appear on the 1901 OS mapping – Halesfield and Kemberton Collieries. These would not have been present when the tramroad was active in this area. By the 1950s these two pits were worked as one by the NCB and together employed over 800 men. “John Anstice sank Kemberton Pit when director of the family company in 1864 mainly for coal but it also produced ironstone and fireclay. … Halesfield was sunk as an ironstone and coal mine in the 1830s and continued to work coal until the 1920s, it later became the upcast and pumping shafts for Kemberton pit.” 
Apart from the A4169 at the bottom of the satellite image (which is already shown above), the only modern road which crosses the line of this section of the old tramroad Is Halesfield 18. Google Streetview images in this area were taken at the height of Summer in 2022 when vegetation was at its most abundant and as a result show nothing of note.
Our discussion about the old tramroad alignment is essentially speculative. We are in a better position than Savage and Smith were to trace routes using modern technology, but even so our possible route remains speculative. I have reproduced in in approximation on the same modern satellite image as were encountered above. Should it be correct, then some of its route can be followed and some locations can be photographed but all with a healthy sense of scepticism.
Holmer Lake is a reservoir owned by Severn Trent Water and serves Telford and the surrounding areas. The land around Holmer Lake includes areas of woodland and grassland.  Mad Brook was dammed in in 1968-70 to create a balancing reservoir at the behest of Telford Development Corporation. 
The next length of the old tramroad brings us passed the site of Grange Farm and Grange Colliery, Stirchley Ironworks and close to Randlay Pool. Mad Brook meanders North, initially close to the line of the old tramroad, moving away West beyond Grange Farm and then getting lost in the midst of Stirchley/Oldpark Ironworks.
These images are taken at and around the site of Grange Colliery. On the image above, the spoil heaps from the colliery were immediately off-screen to the left the colliery yard ahead to the North. The image below was taken a from a point just to the North of the bins awaiting collection and looking to the left.
Grange Colliery probably opened by 1833. The extent of seams that could be worked was restricted by the Limestone fault, east of which the coal lay deeper.  By 1881 all the pits except Grange colliery had been closed. Despite the lease of mineral rights at Grange Colliery to Alfred Seymour Jones of Wrexham in 1893, the colliery was closed in 1894. 
The closer satellite view of part of Telford Town Park above gives us a good point to stop to think about the historical timeline in the immediate vicinity of Stirchley Chimney. The tramroads in this immediate area were looked at in an earlier article in this series which can be found here. 
Savage and Smith  and other sources provide sufficient information to allow us to pull together that timeline. We have already noted that the tramroad was operating by 1799 and abandoned by 1815. Other Tramroads around Stirchley and along the route of the Shropshire Canal came along, generally, in piecemeal fashion.
The canal predated the Tramroad. It was built to link Donnington Wood with Coalport on the River Severn, a distance of about 7 miles. Construction commenced in 1789 near Oakengates and reached Blists Hill relatively quickly. A shaft and tunnel were intended to get loads down to river level. However, it seems as though natural tar was found oozing out of the tunnel wall and it was turned into a tar extraction business. In its place the Hay Incline was built to bring tub boats down to river level.  The incline has also been covered previous articles: here  and here. 
Once the canal has been completed a number of businesses decided to use the canal as a route to the outside world. Before 1830 a wharf had been established on the West side of the Canal close to Hinkshay/Stirchley Pools which provided for colleries, brickworks and ironworks to the West and North.
The 1840s saw minor additions to the tramroad network around Madeley (South of Stirchley), the next decade saw considerable developments alongside the canal as shown on the next Savage and Smith extract below.
There was little change in the immediate area over the next 15 years. The next image covers the period 1876-1900 and again only shows minor changes to tramroads in the vicinity of Stirchley The railways now dominate the transport landscape.
Missing from Savage and Smith’s 1″ to one mile drawings is the GWR branch parallel to the LNWR branch and running from the North down towards Stirchley. The route of that line is shown below in a turquoise colour on the mapping supplied by RailMapOnline.
The next few photographs take us along the route of what is the old tramroad from Sutton Wharf and that of the GWR Mineral Line along the East side of Stirchley Chimney which still stands in the 21st century.