The Branch Line Society

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South Telford Walk
Saturday 19th April 2014

On Easter Saturday 19th April a small group of members met at the Randlay car park in Telford for a walk on the track-beds of the GWR Stirchley goods branch (CG 2nd February 1959) and the LNWR Coalport branch (CP 2nd June 1952, CG Coalport (East) to Stirchley 5th December 1960 thence to Hadley Jct. 6th July 1964). Both branches have been obliterated in the redeveloped areas of central Telford but are retained at their extremities for recreational purposes.

The walk began at the site of the former Randlay Brickworks, following the Stirchley branch to its terminus in a once much industrialised area. Here the opportunity was taken for minor diversions to view the remains of former blast furnaces, the Wrekin Chemical Works’ massive 203 foot fully intact brick Stirchley Chimney and the remains of a horse tramway bridge across the LNWR formation. Continuing south on the LNWR branch, more tramway bridge abutments were seen before reaching the restored platform of Dawley and Stirchley Station. From there the trackbed leads to a village named Aqueduct where the eponymous structure (on the former Shropshire Union Canal) was viewed crossing the old Bridgnorth to Wellington main road, now a footpath and cycleway. Due to road construction there was another short enforced deviation which led to an overbridge at the site of Madeley (Salop) station (OP from 1861 to 1915 and briefly in a failed experiment on certain Saturdays during 1925). Here the last few wagons of a biomass train heading for Ironbridge Power Station were seen disappearing down the former GWR Madeley branch, still quite busy. Back on the LNWR branch, more tramway traces were encountered before reaching Madeley Market Station, whose main building still stands. On the way down the 1 in 31 to Coalport, the impressive remains of the Lee Dingle Tramway bridge at a high level and its associated incline up to Meadowpit Colliery were seen.

After a pleasant lunch stop at the character-full All Nations, participants saw the Hay Inclined Plane, once part of the Shropshire Union Canal system for boat transfer. Two standard gauge tracks have been laid on it in modern times for display purposes only and are now distorted by landslips. At Coalport East, near the River Severn, no buildings remain but the route was followed to the very end where locomotives once reversed to gain access to the shed. Passenger trains ran to Wellington until 1952. The walk finished with a crossing of the Severn by the 1818 Coalport Bridge, viewing the well preserved and sympathetically extended Coalport (West) GWR station with two camping coaches. After a short walk along the GWR Severn Valley line to the War Memorial Bridge, we reached pre-placed motor transport waiting on the Coalport side of the river.

The participants would like to thank local members Dave and Helen Cromarty for a most interesting, well organised and very well researched walk and talk, enhanced by their encyclopaedic knowledge of the area, prints of old maps and photographs of how it was.

If any member might be interested in arranging a BLS walk (lots of work and an encyclopaedic knowledge is not mandatory!), please do contact the Head Lines Editor.