Railways of Stoke-on-Trent - Potteries Loop Line


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Index page for the Loop Line

Introduction | Etruria to Hanley | Cobridge to Burslem | Tunstall
Pits Hill to Goldenhill | Kidsgrove

Potteries Loop Line - introduction

next: Route of the Loop Line

North Staffordshire Railway Company

North Staffordshire Railway Company
North Staffordshire Railway Company
known as the "Knotty" after the Stafford knot in the logo

The NSR logo on Longton railway bridge, Times Square, Longton
The NSR logo on Longton railway bridge, Times Square, Longton


The North Staffordshire Railway was  formed in 1845 to promote a number of lines in the Staffordshire Potteries. ‘giving the most ample accommodation to the towns of Tunstall, Burslem, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton, Longton and Stone’, to join the Grand Junction Railway at Colwich. The primary intention being to provide the area with railway services to Manchester and London.

As a way of eliminating opposition to the Company's Bills in Parliament, and to allow it to promote a line to Liverpool, the NSR made an agreement to take over the Trent & Mersey Canal Company.


Loop Line:
The Loop Line from Etruria via Hanley, Cobridge, Burslem, Tunstall, Pitts Hill, Newchapel & Goldenhill to Kidsgrove Liverpool Rd. and a junction with the Manchester line was the last of the N.S.R.’s major undertakings.

Formation of the Loop Line

"The Potteries Loop Line was a very short line, which assumed great importance with increasing local developments. Schemes for the Loop Line were influenced and affected by the plans of other companies in the world outside Staffordshire who wished to gain access to the industrial riches of the Potteries.......

......as a child I remember the tumult at Etruria when travelling on the main line train from Crewe — crowds of passengers swarming across the island platform between main lines and Loop Line trains. And for further diversion, on the up side there were two elevated ground signals mounting large rotating Bs into the sky for the benefit of coal trains off the Loop which had to be backed across into the down Grange Sidings; an operation which of necessity had to be performed as quickly as possible. What with one thing and another, Etruria was hardly beautiful, but it was full of interest and activity, the gateway to a romantic world of mystery behind the steelworks.

The North Staffordshire Railway today exercises a deep affection amongst lovers of railways, just as it did to Arnold Bennett and his generation to whom the Loop Line was a major factor in local transport."

Dr. J Hollick - foreword to "The Potteries Loop Line" - A.C. Baker


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 Parliament 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.


lines of the North Staffordshire Railway
the Potteries Loop Line is shown in blue


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.

next: Route of the Loop Line