Visited with ex0, Tweek and fishbrain
The day started with my alarm dragging me back in to a hazy state of consciousness. Right; I'm on a sofa bed in Stafford, with my head screaming from a stonking hangover. Great!
I'd headed down to Stafford the night before after a shit day in work and receiving some intel on sites in the Stafford area from DHL. After getting home from work I was packed and out the door in less than 45 minutes, heading to Lime Street station in Liverpool to catch the train to Stafford. An hour later I disembarked from the Virgin Pendelino and met up with a good friend. I won't bore you with the details, but sufficed to say, a bottle of Morgan's Spiced was sunk that with me drinking the majority!
Fast forward seven hours and I'm waking up and getting ready to meet ex0 off the train at half ten. Walking past St. George's asylum I noticed they'd upped the amount of razor wire and patched the chain link fence and a load of signs warning guard dogs patrol the site. I made a mental note to get back there soon, guard dogs or no!
After meeting up with ex0 at the station, we mooched around marvelling at Virgin trains powering gracefully, seemingly effortlessly through to destinations unknown. At the appointed time we went outside and waited to meet fishbrain and tweek. Unsure of who we was looking for ex0 and I just waited to be approached. Approached we were, introductions where made and we started planning our moves based on DHL's intel. Right, where's the closest site??? Stoke. Damn! Ah well, off we go to Stoke then!
After many wrong turns in Stoke city centre and many jokes about Stoke being a shit hole, we found our way to J H Weatherby's Falcon Works Pottery. We scoped the perimeter, they'd done a reasonable job of securing the building. Scratch that off the list. Where is the next closest site then? Chatterley Whitfield it is?
I'd given Hidden Shadow's brilliant report a glance previously, but that's all it was, a glance. Approaching the site I didn't remember seeing the report, it was all new. But that's where I'll leave that part of the day, sufficed to say, it didn't disappoint but this isn't a Chatterley Whitfield report, as you can see from the title, this is the Oakamoor Train Graveyard.
After leaving Chatterley Whitfield we all had the hunger; the hunger for grilled cow, the hunger for potato immersed in boiling lipids, the hunger for caffeine infused carbonated beverages, some of us for banana flavoured ice and lacate based drinks. There was only one for it. McDONALD'S! Into Google Maps it went and we were off to refuel! One heap of junk food later, the physical effects of my hang over where gone and we were plotting our course to Oakamoor, in search of the train grave yard.
Coming in to the village past the church all four of us had the same thought, This is a local village!
After amazingly managing to make a wrong turn in such a small back water village, we found our way and followed our road on Google Maps. The road was cleverly concealed behind a 6 foot gate with a house on the other side, damn. We headed back to the car park I'd spotted on our short trip to the gate, parked up and set off yomping.
After a short trip through a forest, we eventually caught sight of a brick building through the trees. We headed over to start our explore of Oakamoor Train Graveyard.
The following history is taken from the excellent history page on the Churnet Valley Railway website
Oakamoor sidings where originally part of The North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) which was formed by an act of Parliament in 1846, the line opened on the 13th July 1849. The line was 27 ¾ miles, a double track stretching from North Rode, near Macclesfield, to Uttoxeter in the south. The line was mixed goods and passenger traffic, although initial passenger services only ran four times a day.
Map of Oakmoor sidings in 1881
In 1923 NSR became part of London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), then in 1948 became part of British Rail.
1955 map of Oakamoor
Competition, particularly from road transport, meant railway services nationally were reduced. Then in 1963 the infamous "Beeching Report" recommended the closure of over 5000 miles of track and more than 2000 stations to reduce overheads and hopefully turn a profit. The Churnet Valley fell victim to the report. The North Rode to Leek line closed in June 1964, followed by the withdrawal of all passenger services between Leek and Uttoxeter in January 1965. The remaining route was singled in 1968, followed by the closure of Leek station, the last one still open at the time for freight traffic, in July 1970.
Oakmoor in the late 70s - early 80s
The only freight traffic now was the sand traffic, which continued for 25 years from Hepworth's Sand quarry at Oakamoor to St Helens, Merseyside, (for Pilkington glass), concluding in 1988. New wagons had been purchased to speed up the sand trains only 2 years earlier. A week before the last train, a weed killing train had traversed the route.
Consall, Froghall and Oakamoor stations were all knocked down. Only the waiting shelter at Consall survived into the preservation era. Cheddleton station was taken over in 1976 by the NSRS, later becoming the headquarters of the CVR. Leekbrook junction signal box was included in the purchase of the 7 miles of line from BR some 20 years later followed by the opening of the one-mile section between Cheddleton station & Leekbrook junction to preservation in 1996.Cheddleton Railway Centre was established in the mid-1970s by the (then) North Staffordshire Railway Society, as a railway museum displaying small artifacts of the original North Staffordshire Railway Company (the "Owd Knotty"), and a restoration base for, initially, ex- National Coal Board Hunslet "Austerity" loco No.8 (later "Josiah Wedgwood"), ex-LMS Fowler 4F loco 44422 and a small collection of goods vehicles and passenger coaches.
In 1978 the NSRS became a company limited by guarantee, the North Staffordshire Railway Co. (1978) Ltd, and Charitable Trust status was granted in 1983. (Some photographs of early days at Cheddleton are available in the Photo Galleries.)
Over the ensuing years the Cheddleton site expanded, with the acquisition of further land, until it encompassed the station area (with a bay platform added in 1983-84), a signal box recovered from Elton Crossing near Sandbach in Cheshire, a 300 yard demonstration line, a three road locomotive museum building/shed and associated sidings. The NSRC had however been established with the aim of running a railway and it must be said that the Steam Centre, although popular, was hardly an adequate substitute for the "real thing". Envious eyes were often cast over the fence at the adjacent British Rail mineral line, the sole remaining stub of the former NSR Churnet Valley main line.
The closure of the mineral line came in 1988, some 22 years after the closure of the remainder of the route, and immediately members of the NSRC began the long campaign to save the line. Plans were drawn up and contact established with various bodies including British Rail and the County Council. Eventually agreement was reached in principle for the sale of the line. A public share issue would be required to raise the necessary capital for the purchase of the line and associated land. Due to the legal niceties of company law, however, a charitable body such as NSRC may not enter a "risk taking" venture such as a public share issue - it was therefore necessary to promote a Public Limited Company for this purpose. This was incorporated on 30th October 1992 as Goldenlaunch plc, the name of the company being changed to the Churnet Valley Railway (1992) plc on 15th December, 1992. This was initially a non-trading "shadow" company which was a subsidiary of NSRC, until the first share issue was launched, and the trading activities of NSRC were taken over by the CVR.
Current map of Oakamoor
The only time I can ever imagine being comfortable in this position!
Looking back along the branch towards the former sand wagon filling area
It's actually daft how excited I was laying eye on this for the first time
This car is a bit of an oddity, it doesn't appear to have any driving gear yet has a set of controls at one end
The offending(!) controls