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Did you know - there was once a Potteries Loop Line railway?


The Potteries Loop Line was a railway line that served several towns in Stoke-on-Trent. It was built by the North Staffordshire Railway off its main line (nowadays referred to as the Manchester branch of the West Coast Main Line via Stoke).

It was opened in many short sections due to the cost of railway construction during the 1870s. The complete route of the line was sanctioned by Parliment but the NSR felt that the line would be unimportant enough, to forget continuing with construction. This upset residents of the towns through which the line was planned to pass so they petitioned parliament to force construction which they duly did.

The geography of the route necessitated severe gradients and sharp curves, especially around Tunstall, Burslem and Hanley.

The line was authorised and constructed as follows:
  • Etruria - Shelton: authorised for construction on the 2nd of July 1847 opening for goods in 1850 and passengers in January 1862.
  • Shelton - Hanley: authorised for construction on the 13th of August 1859 opening to goods on the 20th of December 1861 and passengers on the 13th of July 1864.

The entire section to the NSR main line at Kidsgrove was authorised on the 5th of July 1865 opening as follows:

  • Hanley - Burslem: opened to passengers and goods on the 1st of November 1873.
  • Burslem - Tunstall: opened to passengers and goods on the 1st of December 1873.
  • Tunstall - Goldenhill: opened to passengers and goods on the 1st of October 1874.
  • Goldenhill - Kidsgrove: opened to passengers and goods on the 15th of November 1875.

By 1910, Hanley had become the largest of the Six Towns, but the line only served the areas where a fraction of Hanley’s workforce lived. From the 1920s the line began to fall victim to road competition, and by 1961 there were just five passenger trains daily from Stoke-on-Trent to Hanley and Tunstall, and none at all outside the peak hours. In addition, most of the goods traffic had been transferred to road as the 1950s dawned.

The Beeching Axe signalled the final blow for passenger services, and services were withdrawn on 2 March 1964.

Freight workings continued for some years afterwards. In 1967 trains were frequently diverted onto the Loop Line between Longport and Kidsgrove via the Pinnox branch during the electrification of the West Coast Main Line, the upgrading of which involved construction of a new line avoiding Harecastle tunnel.

The northern part of the route remained open until August 1976 to transport coal from an opencast mine at Goldenhill.

next: map of the loop line

more on the Potteries Loop Line

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