Lilleshall Inclined Plane: 123 yds long, 43 ft. This replaced an earlier vertical lift in a shaft and tunnel system. 
I first came across an example of these inclined planes before moving to East Shropshire. We drive past the Hay Incline when travelling by a circuitous route from Manchester to Ludlow. At the time I wrote a couple of short articles for my blog:
This article focuses on the Trench Inclined Plane which was built by the Shrewsbury Canal Company in 1792 after it took over the Wombridge Canal. The Wombridge Canal was a tub-boat canal in Shropshire, England, built to carry coal and iron ore from mines in the area to the furnaces where the iron was extracted. It opened in 1788. Trench Inclined Plane remained in operation until 1921, becoming the last operational canal inclined plane in the country. The canal had been little used since 1919, and closed with the closure of the plane.  
The Inclined Plane consisted of twin railway tracks, each with a cradle in which a single tub-boat was carried. An engine and engine house were built at the top of the incline to provide power to the Incline. It was supplied by the Coalbrookdale Company and was replaced in 1842 by a new engine that lasted for 79 years, until the final demise of the incline on 31 August 1921. The remaining structural elements of the incline were remove in 1968 as part of the Telford New Town developments. 
The engine’s main function was to lift the tub boats I cradles out of the canal at the top of the incline over the end wall of the canal. The rails of the inclined plane ran up out of the canal and then down the main length of the Inclined Plane. Generally, the working traffic was in the downward direction of the incline, and was counterbalanced by empty tub-boats returning up to the top level.  This meant that little power was needed for the operation of the main length of the incline.
Incidentally, “a prominent feature near the top of the incline was the Wombridge Pumping Engine house. This was a Cornish type, with a tall chimney, and was erected in 1858, to pump water from the mines. The main cylinder was 60 inches (150 cm) in diameter, with a 10-foot (3.0 m) stroke, and it lifted water from a depth of around 600 feet (180 m). The engine developed 250 hp (190 kW) and normally ran slowly, raising 3,338 imperial gallons (15.17 m3) of water per minute, in three strokes. When running at maximum speed, it could achieve eleven strokes per minute.” 
Maps and Illustrations of the Inclined Plane
The Trench Branch Canal left the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal at Wappenshall Junction.
The Trench Branch ran across open fields until it reached the industrial areas near Trench. The first length passed under Wappenshall Bridge, through Wappenshall and Britton Lock, Kinley Bridge, Wheat Leasows Bridge and Lock, Shucks and Peaty Locks, Hadleypark Bridge and Lock, Turnip Lock and Wittingham Bridge before reaching Baker’s Lock/Basin and Castle Iron Works, Hadley.
Richard Foxcroft provides a plan of the Shropshire Canals on ‘Exploring Telford’ a website which focusses on the industrial history of the area which is now Telford, particularly the canals and railways. An extract is shown below. 
I followed this length or the Trench Branch on the morning of 31st August 2022. Much of the route is on private land and where this is the case, the old canal has been reintegrated into its surroundings.
Access to the canal basin at Wappenshall Junction is at present restrict to site personnel only as the basin and associated structures are under going restoration.
South of Wappenshall was the Wappenshall Lock. Access to the lock was not possible. No access was possible to Britton Lock nor to Kinley Bridge. The location of Wheat Leasowes Bridge and Lock were easily found as they lie on the road between Preston upon the Weald Moors and Leegomery Round-about on the A442, ‘Queensway’.
The three images above were all taken on 31st August 2022. In sequence, they show: the view North along the line of the old canal which is marked by the field-ditch which remains alongside the hedge in this image; the view South across the road; and finally a view which shows a length of the old canal which is now in the garden of the property in the second image and which still retains water. [My photographs, 31st August 2022]
The length of canal visible in the garden of the property above was the length between the two locks, Wheat Leasowes Bridge Lock and Shucks Lock. The property concerned appears to be an extended lock-keeper’s cottage.
These three images also come from Turnip Lock. The first shows the recess in the locak wall down which the gate slides. The remaining two images show the lock walls, first looking South towards Trench and then looking North towards Wappenshall. [My photographs, 31st August 2022]
The following colourised photographs give an excellent idea of what the Inclined Plane was like and how it worked. They have been colourised by Simon Alun Hark.
Immediately after publishing the article about the most southerly length of the Branch (Part 3), I was contacted by Ian Turpin who built a model of Coalport East Railway Station some years ago. He sent me a copy of the 1″ 1833 Ordnance Survey (revised in the second half of the 19th century to show the railways of Shropshire) which covers the Branch.
In addition, as part of his research for his model railway project he took a number of photographs in and around both Madeley Market Station and Coalport East Station in the late 1980s. This addendum catalogues the pictures that he took. My thanks to Ian for providing these photographs, some of which show scenes which have disappeared since they were taken.
At the end of this article are pictures of Ian Turpin’s layout which he kindly sent to me.
But first, a series of pictures associated with the Branch which have come to light since the three articles were completed. ….
Secondly, Coalport River Severn Warehouse
A close inspection of the 1881 6″ or 25″ Ordnance Survey will show a building straddling two of the sidings in the goods yard to the West of Coalport Station.
Yate notes this warehouse in his shirt description of Coalport East Station: “Two run-around loops gave access to a small goods yard, and to the goods warehouse alongside the River.” [7: p183] By the time of the 1901 Ordnance Survey, the main warehouse element of the building had been demolished, leaving only a truncated section which acted as a good shed. The only picture that I have found of the building dates from after it had been partially removed.
Third, the relevant parts of the 1″ Ordnance Survey of 1833(revised to show rail routes). …
Fourthly, Ian Turpin’s photos of Madeley Market Station. … Madeley Market Station Building seemed a little isolated and forlorn back in the late 1980s, although it seems not to have suffered any significant vandalism. The pictures were taken with a mind to being able to recreate the facilities at Coalport in model form as the buildings were of similar construction.
Fifth, The bridge over the Branch on the station approach …
Sixth, Buildings at and around Coalport East Station. …
The terrace alongside the line. ….
The pub. …
The Bridge Toll House at street level in the 21st century. The building originated as a warehouse (1793-1808), was in use as house by 1815 and as tollhouse from 1818, when the adjacent Coalport Bridge underwent major repairs. Shropshire County Council became owners in 1922, and it was restored after it passed to the Buildings at Risk Trust in 1994. 
The photographs taken by Ian Turpin were all used as background material for the construction of a model railway centred on Coalport (East) Railway Station. The pictures were taken in the period before the road-bridge across the Severn was renovated.
And, before we turn to the photographs of Ian Turpin’s layout, …. two extracts from LNWR publications. The first of these shows the 1905 timetable for the Branch, the second is the LNWR working directions of 1917 for operating Motor Trains on the Branch. Both of these were forwarded to me by Ian Turpin. The working timetable shows that the Branch was worked by two engines. A two-coach motor-train worked the branch from May 1910 until sometime after the grouping with 50ft x 8ft arc roof stock (converted from ordinary non-corridor stock). The Branch was by this time rated third class only. Of the two coaches, one was LNWR No.103 (LMS No. 53450 and the other was LNWR No. 1815 (LMS No. 5338).
Ian Turpin’s layout which featured in The Railway Modeller in the 1990s.
Ian Turpin sent me the superb photographs of his excellent model below. They were taken for an article about his layout which was published in the Railway Modeller in the 1990s. He has very kindly agreed to their inclusion here.
After writing recent articles about the northern section of the branch, I was contacted by David Bradshaw, co-author with Stanley C. Jenkins of ‘Rails around Oakengates’, an article in Steam Days magazine in March 2013. L, offering permission to use material from that article in this series of posts about the Coalport Branch. 
Along with discussion of all the railways in and around Oakengates (including the Lilleshall Co. private railways), David Bradshaw and Stanley C. Jenkins looked at the Wellington to Coalport Branch.
David suggested that I should use material from the article to supplement material included in my recent articles. My feeling is that the section of the ‘Rails around Oakengates’ article which covers the Coalport Branch should be reproduced in full. This addendum focusses solely on the relevant parts of the Steam Days article. [1: p168-170, 175, 176-177] ……..
The Wellington to Coalport Branch
The Great Western Railway had taken over the S&BR in 1854, and this may have prompted the LNWR to consider a scheme for converting the Shropshire Canal into a railway. This busy waterway was experiencing severe problems in terms of subsidence and water supply, and there was a major flooding incident in July 1855 when Snedshill tunnel collapsed. It was thought that the cost of repairs would probably exceed £30,000 and, faced with this heavy expenditure, the London & North Western Railway decided that the money would be better spent on the construction of a replacement railway from Hadley, near Wellington, to Coalport, which would utilise, as much as possible, parts of the troublesome canal.
It was then estimated that the proposed Coalport branch line would cost about £80,000, including £62,500 for the purchase of the waterway. Accordingly, in November 1856, notice was given that an application would be made to Parliament in the ensuing session for leave to bring in a Bill for the purchase and sale of the Shropshire Canal and the ‘Conversion of Portions thereof to Railway Purposes, and Construction of a Railway in connection therewith’.
The proposed line was described as a railway, with all proper stations, works, and conveniences connected therewith, commencing by a junction with the Shrewsbury and Stafford Railway of the Shropshire Union Company in the township of Hadley and parish of Wellington, in the county of Salop. at a point about two hundred yards westward of the mile post on the said railway denoting twelve miles from Shrewsbury’, and it terminated in the parish of Sutton Maddock, in the county of Salop, at a point ten chains or thereabouts to the east of the terminus of the Shropshire Canal at Coalport’.
The railway would pass through various specified parishes, townships, or other places, including Wellington, Hadley, Donnington Wood, Wrockwardine, Wombridge, Oakengates, Stirchley, Malins Lee, Dawley, Snedshill, Madeley, and Coalport, ‘occupying in the course thereof portions of the site of the Shropshire Canal’. Having passed through all stages of the complex Parliamentary process, the actual ‘Act for Authorising the Conversion of parts of the Shropshire Canal to Purposes of a Railway’ received the Royal Assent on 27 July 1857.
The canal was closed between Wrockwardine Wood and the bottom of the Windmill Hill inclined plane on 1 June 1858, although isolated sections of the waterway remained in use for many years thereafter. The work of conversion was soon underway, and on Thursday, 30th May 1861 The Birmingham Daily Post announced that the Coalport and Hadley line of railway would be opened on ‘Monday next’, implying that the first trains would run on 3rd May. In the event, this prediction was slightly optimistic, and on 12th June the same newspaper reported that, ‘in accordance with the arrangements arrested’. previously announced’, the Coalport branch had been opened for passenger traffic on Monday, 10tj June 1861.
As usual in those days, Opening Day was treated as a public holiday, and a large number of spectators had assembled at Coalport station to witness this historic event. ‘At the appointed time, the first engine, and train of first, second and third class carriages, moved off from the station, having a respectable number of passengers’.
The newly opened railway commenced at Hadley Junction, on the Stafford to Wellington line, and it climbed south-eastwards on a ruling gradient of 1 in 50 towards Oakengates (3.25 miles from Wellington), which thereby acquired its second station. Beyond, the route continued southwards, with intermediate stations at Dawley (6 miles) and Madeley Market (7½ miles), to its terminus at Coalport, some 9½ miles from Wellington. The final two miles of line included a continuous 1 in 40 descent towards the River Severn. An additional station was opened to serve Malins Lee, between Oakengates and Dawley, on 7th July 1862.
The steep gradients on this new line contributed to three alarming incidents that took place within the space of a few weeks, the first of which occurred shortly before the opening to passenger traffic, when a train of wagons ‘laden with bricks, stone and sand for the works now in progress at the Coalport terminus, under the care of a brakesman, suffered a brake failure and, ‘thus liberated, the train acquired excessive speed, dashed past the court, through Madeley, until it neared the entrance to the tunnel in Madeley Lane. Here, its further progress was arrested by a large plank being skilfully placed across the rails, and the insertion of some spragges in the wheels. Fortunately, no injury was done beyond destruction to the plank’
On 30 August 1860, The Birmingham Daily Post reported a similar incident, when a train of ballast wagons was traversing the line from Madeley’ and ‘a coupling chain gave way, causing the wagons to ‘dash down the gradient at a fearful velocity’. Fortunately, the ‘timekeeper’ at Coalport Works, aware that the runaways were approaching, threw a bar of iron across the line of rail, whereby its further progress was arrested’.
Incredibly, a third near-disaster occurred on the following day, ‘as the engine was returning from the Coalport terminus with a numerous train of empty carriages’. For reasons that were not entirely clear, the train derailed near Mr Eagle’s Chain Manufactory, which was on the highest embankment on the line and, having fallen part way down the 60ft embankment, the engine became deeply embedded in the earth, earth, a ‘great number of men and appliances’ being required to extricate it from its precarious resting place. It was subsequently revealed that the embankment had been subject to almost daily subsidence, which may have contributed to the accident.
The Coalport branch line was, from its inception, geared towards freight traffic rather than passengers, and there were numerous private sidings linked to nearby factories within the Oakengates Urban District. One of these sidings, known as Wombridge Goods, served Wombridge Iron Works, which had a connection with a surviving section of the Shropshire Canal. There was also Wombridge ballast siding and Wombridge Old Quarry siding, while other sidings served the iron foundry of John Maddocks & Son, and also the Lilleshall Company’s steel works at Snedshill.
Successive editions of The Railway Clearing House Handbook of Stations reveal further private sidings on the Coalport branch, including, in 1938, the Exley & Son siding and the Nuway Manufacturing Co siding at Coalport, and at Madeley Market there was the Messrs Legge & Sons’ siding and the Madeley Wood Cold Blast Slag Co siding.
The original train service consisted of three passenger trains in each direction between Wellington and Coalport, with a similar number of goods workings. This modest service persisted for many years, although an additional Thursdays-only train was subsequently provided in response to the increased demand on Wellington market days. In 1888 the branch was served by four passenger trains each way, together with five Up and three Down goods workings. By the summer of 1922 there were five Up and five Down passenger trains, with an additional short-distance service from Wellington to Oakengates and return on Saturdays-only.
In the final years of passenger operation, the timetable comprised five trains each way. In July 1947, for example, there were Up services from Coalport at 6.22am, 8.50am, 11.57am, 4.40pm and 7.40pm, with corresponding Down workings from Wellington at 8.04am, 10.02am, 1.40pm, 6.30pm and 9.15pm; a slightly different service pertained on Thursdays and Saturdays. The final branch passenger service in 1952. consisted of four Up and four Down trains, increasing to five each way on Thursdays and six on Saturdays.
Oakengates (Market Street)
The Coalport line diverged from the Wellington to Stafford route at Hadley Junction, and ran south-eastwards via Wombridge goods station, at which point various private sidings branched out to serve Hadley Lodge Brickworks and other industrial concerns.
Oakengates, the largest station on the Coalport branch, was a short distance further on. The former LNWR and LMS station was renamed Oakengates (Market Street) on 18tj June 1951, to prevent confusion with the nearby GWR station, which was thereafter known as Oakengates (West). The town’s Coalport line station was orientated on an approximate north-to-south alignment, and its layout included Up and Down platforms for passenger traffic, with a level crossing immediately to the north of the platform ramps. The main station building was on the Up (northbound) platform, while the diminutive signal box was situated on the Down platform, in convenient proximity to the level crossing. The cabin was a standard L&NWR gable-roofed box, albeit of the smallest size.
The main station building, which was similar to that at Coalport, was a typical LNWR design, incorporating a one-and-a- half-storey Stationmaster’s house at the rear, and an attached single-storey building, which contained the booking office and waiting room facilities. The single-storey portion faced on to the platform, and it featured two rectangular bays and a central loggia, which was fully enclosed by a wood and glass screen to form a covered waiting area. The residential block sported a steeply pitched slate-covered roof, whereas the booking office portion had a flat roof. The building was of local brick construction, with tall chimneys and slightly arched window apertures. This distinctive structure was erected, as were all the others on the line, by local builder Christopher Bugaley of Madeley. There was a detached gentlemens’ convenience on the Up platform, while facilities for waiting travellers on the Down platform comprised a small waiting room.
Two dead-end goods sidings at Oakengates were provided on the Down side, while the Up side sported a sizeable goods yard and a substantial goods shed. There was also a timber yard siding and an additional goods shed that was used by Millington’s, a local company. The 1927 Ordnance Survey map suggests that the timber siding ran to within a few yards of the local (Oakengates & District) Co-operative Society Depot, and it was hardly a stone’s throw from a connection from the GWR station. For a time I attended the Sunday School at the Methodist Chapel halfway up Station Hill and I was a regular at the classic Grosvenor Cinema, which was close to Market Street station. Halfway up Station Hill, the old canal and Lilleshall Company lines ran under and across the road respectively.
Motive Power on the Coalport Branch
The Coalport branch was typically worked by Webb ‘Coal Tank’ 0-6-2Ts, together with Webb 2-4-2Ts and ‘Cauliflower’ 0-6-0s. In earlier years the route had also been worked by L&NWR 0-6-0 saddle tanks such as No 3093, which was recorded on the line in 1895. The London & North Western Railway ‘Coal Tanks’, which included the still-extant No 58926 (seen on the Coalport line as late as 21 October 1950), enjoyed a long association with the route, but at the end of the LMS era these veteran locomotives were replaced by Shrewsbury-allocated Fowler class ‘3MT 2-6-2Ts, such as Nos 40005, 40008, 40048 and 40058. The goods trains, meanwhile, were worked by a range of ex-LMS locomotive types, including Fowler Class ‘3F’ 0-6-0s, ‘4F’ 0-6-0s, and also the occasional ex-L&NWR ‘Super D’ 0-8-0.
The passenger services, known locally as the ‘Coalport Dodger’ were poorly supported – except on market days in Oakengates and Wellington, and for the locally renowned Oakengates Wakes (Pat Collins Fair) – hence their early demise, particularly as the rival ex-GWR route to Wellington was more convenient. World War II staved-off closure for a few years, but in the early months of 1952 it was announced that passenger services would be withdrawn with effect from 2 June 1952, and as this was a Monday the last trains ran on Saturday, 31 May. Fowler Class ‘3MT’ 2-6-2T No 40058 worked the final trains, its smokebox adorned with black flags, a wreath and the chalked letters ‘RIP’.
Motive power on the line after the cessation of passenger services was often provided by Hawksworth ’94XX’ class 0-6-0PTs, such as Nos 9470 and 9472 (complete with broken front numberplate), or less frequently, by ’57XX’ class 0-6-0PTs. There was an incident when a ’57XX’ was derailed on the catch points just outside Oakengates station, although details are elusive. Wellington shed’s sole ‘1600’ class 0-6-0PT, No 1663, shunted the GKN Sankey sidings near the junction of the Stafford and Coalport lines and it is believed to have ventured up the branch on occasion.
A goods working which appeared at Oakengates after mid-day invariably featured an LMS Burton-based Class ‘3F’ or ‘4F’ 0-6-0, although on one unforgettable occasion, on 14th August 1957, Bath (Green Park)-allocated Stanier ‘Black Five’ class 4-6-0 No 44917, in ex-Works condition, turned up on this humble working. This train had apparently started life as a light-engine working that had left Shrewsbury (Coleham) at 5.10am and, on then reaching Shrewsbury (Abbey Foregate) at 5.35am, it picked up a goods working and eventually arrived at Priors Lee sidings, just outside Oakengates, at 2.20pm.
In the period from July to the end of October 1957, the following locomotives appeared on what local trainspotters called ‘the mid-day goods’ (although it actually arrived in the early afternoon) – Class ‘3F’ 0-6-0s Nos 43709 and 43809, Class ‘4F’ 0-6-0s Nos 43948, 43976, 43986, 44124 and 44434, and of course ‘Black Five’ No 44917 (71G).
It is interesting to note that excursion trains continued to run from Coalport after the withdrawal of the regular passenger services. On one occasion, around 1956, there were two excursions to the North Wales Coast on the same day, both of which were hauled by Class ‘5MT’ 4-6-0s. Only one of these workings stopped to pick-up at Oakengates, as the other ran straight through Oakengates station – it must have been one of the few examples of a ‘non-stop’ passenger working in the life of the line? On 23rd April 1955 the Locomotive Club of Great Britain joined forces with the Manchester Locomotive Society to run a ‘Shropshire Rail Tour’, which left Shrewsbury at 2.30pm behind ‘Dean Goods’ 0-6-0 No 2516 on a tour of local branch lines, which included the Minsterley and Coalport routes, the fare for this interesting excursion being 15s 6d.
A year or two later, on 2nd September 1959, the Stephenson Locomotive Society arranged a further tour of West Midland branch lines, including the Womborne, Minsterley and Coalport routes, a Swindon three-car Cross Country diesel-multiple-unit being provided instead of a steam-hauled train, ostensibly to ‘improve timings’.
Another abiding memory is of an excursion, believed to have been arranged by the late Cyril Poole, a teacher from Madeley Modern School, which departed behind a Hughes/ Fowler ‘Crab’ class 2-6-0 and returned in a tropical storm behind a ‘Super D’ 0-8-0, running tender-first. The train was made up to ten coaches and it took at least twenty minutes to surmount the 1 in 50 bank into Oakengates. Steaming was not an issue, but there were adhesion difficulties as the engine slithered and slipped up the bank – the noise level was something never to be forgotten!
D. Bradshaw and S.C. Jenkins; Rails around Oakengates; in Steam Days No. 283, March 2013, p165-179.
The canal length covered by this article is shown on this plan based on the Ordnance Survey Explorer map of the area. The plan is from an article by Andy Tidy on his blog, Captain Ahab’s Watery Tales. His excellent blog is worth reading. 
There were two inclined planes on this length of the Shropshire Canal, both are shown on this plan. Two previous articles cover the Hay Inclined Plane at Coalport which took tub boats down to the wharves alongside the River Severn. These can be found by following these links:
The Windmill Inclined Plane is buried under modern development.
There is more about both these inclined planes below.
Immediately South of Stirchley Iron Works there was a loop in the line of the canal which meant that it was on a tighter curvature than the engineers for the later LNWR Coalport Branch were happy with. The 6″ Ordnance Survey of 1881 shows that length of the canal running alongside the railway.
A short distance South of Stirchley Lane, the Canal 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 above shows a rock face to the West side of the railway which highlights the location of the erstwhile tunnel.
A short distance beyond the location of the bridge in the above photo the canal route to the River Severn branches away to the left (East), the arm of the canal running to the West towards Horsehay continues South for a short distance before turning West across the old Bridgnorth turnpike road. The OS Map below shows both of the two arms of the Canal.
It is worth emphasising that the lines drawn above are only approximate, particularly in the case of the old Shropshire Canal. A somewhat more accurate alignment for the Canal is shown, length-by-length in the side-by-side images below
The branch canal will be for another article. In this article we are following the route to the River Severn.
Aqueduct Village to the River Severn
Just South of the tunnel, the Canal to the Severn turned away to the East from the branch over the aqueduct. The 6″ Ordnance Survey of 1881 above shows the remains of the Canal, first heading East, then curving round to the South before turning East then South-southeast.
As it turned South-southeast it reached the head of the Windmill Inclined Plane which was 600yds long and had a 125 ft rise. 
Following the route of the Canal on the ground in the 21st century is difficult as the topography has changed significantly and the majority of the line is built over. Establishing the actual route is difficult, even with the aid of modern mapping tools available through the National Library of Scotland (NLS). The side-by-side option on the NLS website enables a line to be transferred with some accuracy. You will see that in producing the line on the ESRI image above I misjudged the alignment of the curves when transferring them from the 6″ Ordnance Survey of 1881 onto the ESRI imagery from the NLS. The side-by-side images permit the cursor to appear on both the map and the satellite image at the same time.
The four Streetview immediately below show the approximate points where the old canal alignment crosses modern roads. The first shows Aqueduct Lane just to the North of Chapmans Close and at the point where a modern access to the Silkin Way meets the lane.
As we noted above, I have not tried to accurately plot the line of the old canal where it does not show on th Ordnance Survey mapping. The next length shown on the mapping is covered on the next side-by-side image below and includes the top part of the Windmill Inclined plane. The route of the incline is defined by the field boundary shown on the OS map.
As we have already noted Windmill Inclined Plane was 6ooft long and saw a drop in levels towards the River Severn of 125ft. We have no pictures of the incline but we do have pictures of another incline on the Shropshire Canal which survived for a little longer and we have the Hay Incline to see in the 21st century. Photos have survived of Trench Incline while it was still operational.
Trench Inclined Plane was covered in another article on this site:
The original photos of Trench Incline were monochrome but modern technology now allows those images to be colourised. The images below hopefully give a good idea of what Windmill Inclined Plane might also have been like in operation. The images were colourised by Simon Alun Hark and shared by him on his Shropshire Nostalgia and Film Facebook Group. 
These Canal Inclined Planes were a much more effective method of lifting the tub boats over significant height gains than would have been a series of canal locks. While these were expedient with tub boats, they would have been impractical for narrow boats which were of a much greater length.
A history of the inclined planes on the Shropshire Canal is provided by P. Whitehead in an article online which is entitled ‘Shropshire Tub Boat Canals‘. 
Bradshaw and Jenkins tell us that “the canal was closed between Wrockwardine Wood and the bottom of the Windmill Hill inclined plane on 1st June 1858, although isolated sections of the waterway remained in use for many years thereafter.” [21: p169]
The canal curved round to the top of the Hay Inclined Plane. The next map extract shows the full extent of the Hay Inclined Plane.
The Incline is covered in two short articles which can be found here and here. A few pictures will suffice as part of this article. …
The Hay Inclined Plane in its original condition in the late 19th century when it was still in use.
The structures at the top of the incline are in good condition.
The rope on the track on the right shows that a tub boat has recently descended the inline on that track.
This picture was shared on the Memories of Shropshire Facebook Group by Stephen Williams on 25th January 2020.
R.F. Savage & L.D.W. Smith; The Waggon-ways and Plate-ways of East Shropshire, Birmingham School of Architecture, 1965. An original document is held by the Archive Office of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
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.
This is the last of a series of posts about the Coalport Branch the earlier two can be found at:
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.
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 articles cover the route of the Canal and the first of these can be found on this link:
Immediately to the South of Madeley Market Station was the station goods yard. Trains from Hadley Junction accessed the yard by means of a trailing connection, as can be seen on the Ordnance Survey map extract below.
There was a siding providing access to the Blists Hill site which was known as Legge’s Siding. It is interesting to note that, while there is local confidence that Legge’s siding existed, there is little evidence of it on maps of the area. Dave Cromarty comments: “Legge’s Siding (the connection to the Blists Hill Brickworks)? … Where did it leave the branch? You try finding a map with it on it. When you do, leg it down Legges Way (the road built on that portion of the branch alignment in the 1980s) and try and fathom out where it was. I settled on lamppost MY460 as a best guesstimate, but I’m still not convinced. Just down the road there’s a quite spectacular, by horse tramway standards, bridge which carried a tramway from Meadowpit Colliery in Madeley, to Blists Hill.” 
The Legge in the name of the modern road and this siding was George Legge of George Legge and Sons who bought Blists Hill Brick and Tile Works in 1912 and continues in operation there unitl 1938.
Legges Siding and the shorter siding to the South provided access to the Blists Hill site. We have already noted the large number of tramroad line in the immediate area (as shown on the 1881 OS map). Looking in detail at these tramroads is not part of the plan for this article. They will be covered in another article in due course. Anyone interested in the tramroads of East Shropshire will find an introductory article on this link:
The Bridges and the Tunnel over the Coalport Branch at Blists Hill
We saw these two bridges in a Google Streetview image above. The tunnel appears on the second 25″ map extract below, the two bridges on the first.
The first and lowest bridge is a footbridge which originally provided access from Coalport Road, which sits at bridge-deck level, to the Brick and Tile Works.
The second, much higher bridge carried a plateway/tramway incline over the line of the Coalport Branch. the plateway brought coal from Meadowpit Colliery to power the blast furnaces at Blists Hill.
The two bridges as seen from the North soon after the lifting of the track on the Coalport Branch. This image was shared on the Telford Memories Facebook Group by Andy Rose on 16th December 2021. 
The two bridges viewed from the Southwest with the old Coalport Branch passing underneath them. This image was also shared on the Telford Memories Facebook Group by Andy Rose on 16th December 2021. 
The two bridges viewed from the Southwest with the old Coalport Branch in the 21st century. This image was also shared on the Telford Memories Facebook Group by Andy Rose on 16th December 2021. 
The tunnel during the construction of the surface water storm drain which passes through it. This image was shared on the Telford Memories Facebook Group by Marcus Keane on 7th January 2022. 
“The brick-lined tunnel, through which the London and North Western Railway branch line to Coalport ran, was built in the 19th century to carry plateways on top so that materials could be taken from the Lloyds Coppice area to the Blists Hill Ironworks. The tunnel is 60-70 metres in length, with a wonderful echo.” 
“The railway track closed in 1964 and the line became part of the Silkin Way in 1977. Underneath the old track bed lies the main sewers and water run-off for the town of Telford.” 
Opinion on whether this is a surface water sewer or for foul water differs. It seems most likely that it is a surface water drain.
A detailed history of the site can be found on the ironbridge.org.uk website.  Sections of that website are reproduced below.
Blists Hill in the mid to late 19th century. 
“Blists Hill’s industrial peak arguably occurred in the early 1870s, when the blast furnaces were their most profitable and a new mechanised brickworks was developing. However, this decade also saw the start of the site’s decline. It was during this decade that Blists Hill’s mine stopped producing ironstone and coal. Brick and tile clay continued to be mined and used by the adjacent brickworks, but the Madeley Wood Company had to begin sourcing its raw materials for Blists Hill’s blast furnaces from further afield and in 1872 built the Lee Dingle bridge to transport materials from Meadow Pit colliery in Madeley to Blists Hill’s furnaces. The mine at Blists Hill continued to operate but by 1900 only 12 people were employed there and following the First World War it was sold several times. Abandonment plans were discussed as early as 1925 but it wasn’t until June 1941 that the mine was completely abandoned, and the shaft was filled in.” 
“Blists Hill’s blast furnaces also suffered declining profits from the 1870s. By this time, the furnaces’ technology was old fashioned, but its cold-blast pig iron filled a niche in the market. However, like most of the Shropshire iron industry, it was facing competition from cheaper imports of iron from Europe and America and competition from the steel industry. The lack of raw materials being mined at Blists Hill and the subsequent need to transport them from further afield also increased costs. In 1908, two of the three furnaces were blown out (ceased operating) and following a national miners’ strike in 1912, which severely impacted the supply of raw materials, the final furnace was blown out. By this time, the Madeley Wood Company’s profits were coming from coal mining rather than iron or brickmaking and so they also sold their Blists Hill brick and tile works to George Legge & Sons in 1912. Under George Legge & Sons the works produced handmade and specialist products alongside their mass-produced bricks and tiles and continued to manufacture these products until 1938, when the company was liquidated. From 1945, sanitary pipes were made at the works but this ceased in 1956 and the works was closed.” 
Further information about the Hay Incline Plane can be found here and here.
Locomotives and Rolling Stock on theCoalport Branch
In LNWR days the branch passenger service was generally served by small tank locos and goods by 0-6-0 tender locos. However, details are are a bit sketchy. William H. Smith points to allocation of locomotives to Shrewsbury Shed (LNWR No. 30) as a way to narrow down the field of possible motive power on the line. He says that there is only one eyewitness confirmation of a locomotive that operated on the line 2-4-0 LNWR No. 1000.  Locomotives from the shed allocation in 1917 which may have operated on the line include, “0‒6‒2T ‘Coal tanks’, LNWR Nos. 119, 292, 2459 and … 2‒4‒2T LNWR No. 1157 … along with 17in Goods 0‒6‒0s 1713, 2437.” 
Smith presumes that goods traffic between the two world wars would have been carried predominantly in ‘private owner’ open wagons. He mentions local coalfield owners, Cornish china clay companies, “‘North and Rose’ and ‘St. Austell China Clay Co’ are two such wagons noted from photographs. ‘Lilleshall’ and ‘Madeley Wood Co’ were locals, as was the ‘Mid-Shropshire Coal Co, Coalport’. …. Movement of wagons to and from the Staffordshire and Shropshire Coalfields would be expected and indeed, following a check on some post-war wagon labels from the branch, consignments from Littleton, Baggeridge, Donnington and Rugeley Collieries were confirmed.” 
“During the war passenger services were reduced and the branch provided storage sites for ammunition and special trains were observed hauled by Stanier Class 5 4‒6‒0s.” 
Nationalisation initially brought little change. “The ‘Dodger’, as it was popularly known, was still hauled by the 0‒6‒2T coal tanks and there was still ex-LNWR 2‒4‒2Ts Nos. 46601 and 46757 around in 1949 and 1950 as a reminder of past days. However, in December 1949 Wellington shed received its first allocation of Fowler 2‒6‒2Ts (40005 and 40006) and these took over much of the passenger work.” 
Throughout much of the life of the branch, passenger services consisted of four trains on weekdays, the journey taking 30 minutes.  It seems that the quality of the service deteriorated somewhat over the last 2 to 3 years of the life of the line. If a train arrived at all, it was often made up of a single coach. Midland Red replacement bus services became more frequent and passenger numbers became unsustainable.
By 1952, Fowler 2‒6‒2T No. 40058 was in use on the line often pulling a single coach, bunker first down the line to Coalport before running round it’s coach and returning to Wellington smoke-box first. Rumours of closure during the autumn of 1951 “became fact and it was 40058 which hauled the final regular passenger train over the branch on 31st May 1952. Malins Lee station was also closed completely from this time.” 
The goods service was also undergoing changes, “in May 1953 the 0‒6‒2T Coal Tanks were withdrawn from the Shrewsbury shed and ex-Midland 2F 0‒6‒0s began to appear on Coalport goods trains. Soon afterwards control of the line passed to the Western Region and Coalport became known as Coalport ‘East’, supplies of stores now arriving from Swindon.” 
By December 1960, very little goods traffic was being generated on the southern portion of the line and the section of the line from Dawley and Stirchley Station to Coalport was closed. It seems that traffic from the Lilleshall Company had also ceased. The remainder of the line was clearly in terminal decline and was closed in July 1964. 
And finally …
It seems as though the Coalport Branch was given some serious consideration as a home for a Railway Preservation Society. … The group which eventually became the Chasewater Railway (Chasewater Country Park, Brownhills West Station, Pool Lane (Off the A5), Burntwood, Staffs WS8 7NL).
The Coalport Branch was one of three lines under consideration when looking for a permanent home for the railway. These notes were made in 1960 after a visit to Coalport. 
“On Sunday, October 23rd 1960, a small party consisting of David Ives, James Slater, T. Jones, Frank Harvey and D. Noel Draycott visited the Coalport to Hadley line in North Shropshire. Built by the London & North Western Railway, it runs from the very attractive Vale of Severn across high land and through an early centre of the iron and steel industry to a junction on the Wellington to Stafford line.
The branch had a terminus at Coalport Station which stands on a long shelf, part cut out and part built up on the steep bank of the Severn. The station buildings comprise a booking office, general and ladies waiting rooms, backing on to the station master’s house. The signal box was demolished and a ground frame installed shortly before services were withdrawn in 1952. The goods shed has also been demolished, but the three short sidings remain in the yard.
Further along the shelf past the station, there is a carriage shed sufficient for four bogie carriages, and an engine shed for two locomotives. These buildings are in fair condition, and the engine shed contains a large workshop space as well as a pit. All these buildings back on to the hillside, and on the opposite side there is a pleasant stretch of wooded land before it falls steeply away to the river which forms the boundary of the railway property.
The line rises steeply from Coalport Station with attractive views across and up the Severn Valley before it turns away to cross pleasant rolling countryside to the small town of Madeley. Here the station building is used as an office by an engineering firm, but the yard of some half dozen sidings is practically disused.
The line then continues to Dawley and Stirchley Station where a total of some 15 wagons of coal showed that an active coal merchant used the yard. As dusk was falling, the tour of inspection finished at this point. All the members of the party were impressed by the potentialities of the line for day trippers.” 
It seems that, had the decision been made to create a preservation line on the alignment of the Coalport Branch, Telford Steam Railway on the Wellington and Severn Junction line would have been very unlikely to have been formed. The line would, however, have been an excellent partner to the museum developments in the Severn Gorge which were to follow over the following decades, even if there would have been little room for the Silkin Way.
Bob Yate; The Shropshire Union Railway: Stafford to Shrewsbury including the Coalport Branch; Oakwood Press, Usk, 2003.
Just after I completed the first article in this series, David Clarke, who wrote the book ‘The Railways of Telford‘,  contacted me to offer some photographs from his collection for inclusion in this short series of articles. I reviewed David’s book 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. That review can be found here.
David Clarke; The Railways of Telford; Crowood Press, Marlborough, Wiltshire, 2016.
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.”