Search for the Old Roads of
Historian Fred Hughes writes....
My travelling companion, former engine fireman Paul Nutty, is back on the footplate for the latest leg of the Loop Line to Burslem.
off the bridge over Scotia Road from Tunstall brought you onto a straight
stretch of track,” he explains. “The line ran behind rows of terraced
streets through a cutting and you could see Burslem Station like looking
through the gun sights of a rifle. Mind, most of my journeys through
Burslem were made when it was dark so I didn’t get much chance to see the
station which came upon you quite suddenly after passing under Bycars
Bridge. On one occasion the driver pulled the engine up inside the
Moorland Road Bridge. He stuck his head out of the cab just as the boiler
blew-off and he was covered in the fallout of cinder scaling and soot. It
could be a dangerous job.”
Geoff recalls the house had been empty for 19 years before he and Carol moved in.
Retired police chief, Tom Parton age 85, who lived the house for two years just after the war, agrees.
“It was a fine house and it is marvellous to see how Geoff and Carol have restored it,” says Tom. “My father Harry was the stationmaster from the early 1940’s until he died in 1968. By this time of course the Loop Line had closed but the company allowed him to stay on.”
Tom’s father lived for and loved the railway.
One person who knew the Loop Line and Burslem Station well was the author Arnold Bennett.
“He talks about the railway in several of his books and there’s little doubt he travelled on it frequently,” says Steve. “The reunion of sisters Constance and Sophia Baines in The Old Wives’ Tale records the meeting at Stoke Station and the transfer to the Loop Line train is evocative as they two old wives note the passing of forgotten landmarks. The sisters recite the names of the Loop Line Stations in the author’s literary names – Hanbridge, Bleakridge and Bursley where they alight and take a cab to the town centre.”
Bleakridge, Cobridge in reality, was where the Bennett family lived. The station was built for rich people and it is where the most knowledgeable of all Loop Line aficionados are waiting to tell me all about it next week.
15 December 2008
click the "contents" button to get back to the main index
next: Cobridge on the Loop Line
previous: Tunstall on the Loop Line