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: Demise of the line
previous: Formation of the Loop Line

Route of the Loop Line
 

the route of the loop line - 1902 map
the route of the loop line - 1902 map
 


 

A journey on the Loop Line:

As the train turned sharp right on leaving the main line at Etruria, it commenced its tortuous climb of over one mile, with gradients as steep as 1 in 41 and with several reverse curves, towards Hanley. Little wonder that loads were always limited, and the engines worked very hard.

On this section to Hanley the observant traveller would be treated to views of the large Shelton Iron & Steel Works, at close quarters and there would usually be several of the 'fussy' little four wheeled saddle tanks shunting around....
 

The Shelton works at night c.1924
The Shelton works at night c.1924

"Dubsy" - Loco crane operating at Shelton Steel Works - built by Dubs & Co
"Dubsy" - Loco crane operating at Shelton Steel Works - built by Dubs & Co



Leaving Hanley
with its station in a deep cutting and on a very sharp curve, yet more reverse curves and steep gradients took the train to Waterloo Road; there would be further views of the steel works to the left, with Hanley Deep Pit Colliery, and Walker's Oil Refinery to the right.......
 

Hanley station "in a deep cutting and on a very sharp curve"
Hanley station "in a deep cutting and on a very sharp curve"
photo: Trevor Ford - taken in the early 1960's not long after the line closed 

Century Oils developed from a partnership founded in Stoke-on-Trent in 1874 the brothers William and John Walker.

The genesis of the Walker business came from the discovery of commercially exploitable deposits of crude oil in the seams of a local colliery. The Walker Brothers distilled crude oil at a refinery built at Cobridge.

The Century Oil Works was located the heart of the potteries where an abundant supply of of coke and coal was required to fire the kilns, and much coal tar was available for processing. Walker's produced a range of products including axle grease, engine oil, paraffin, lamp oil and candles. Their tar wagons would have commonly been seen in local goods trains on the Potteries Loop Line of the NSR.

Brook Street (now Century Street) around 1890
Brook Street (now Century Street) around 1890
the loop line bridge in the bottom right

Brook Street was crossed by two railway lines - the main main North Staffs Railway 'Potteries Loop Line' and a mineral railway line which ran to a coal wharf on Waterloo Road and also to Burslem.
To the right of Brook Street was Walkers Century Oil works


Passing the awkward and confined junction that served the colliery needs, the line plunged into the short Cobridge Tunnel, and commenced its descent towards the Pinnox Valley. Immediately on leaving the tunnel, the passenger was treated to the vista of literally dozens of the distinctively shaped bottle ovens, because every 'Pot Bank' has several, and there were 'Pot Banks' on almost every street corner.
As the train left Cobridge it passed the large colliery and brickworks complex at Sneyd........
 

Sneyd Colliery wagons at the coking plant at the Shelton works
Sneyd Colliery wagons at the coking plant at the Shelton works

 

Pot Banks and brick works "on almost every street corner"
Pot Banks and brick works "on almost every street corner"

 

Burslem station was comparatively large with distinctive buildings, as befitted the 'Mother town', and on leaving it the line was carried on a high embankment, and then viaduct, as it wound and strode across the Pinnox Valley then, commencing its 1 in 90 climb towards Tunstall. The Pinnox Branch joined on the left just before the viaduct, and if one now looked below there would be seen the Whitfield-Pinnox Mineral Railway, and the extensive colliery sidings for the exchange of traffic with the main line......

 

Burslem station on the Potteries Loop Line
Burslem station on the Potteries Loop Line
photo: Trevor Ford - taken in the early 1960's not long after the line closed 

 

On leaving Tunstall the line continued to climb out of the valley, sometimes on grades as steep as 1 in 76, as it wound its way behind Tunstall Park Road, past the awkward, if not unique Newfields Junction, and on towards the straight section beyond Pitts Hill, to Newchapel & Goldenhill.

To the right were good views of Chell, Turnhurst and Newchapel, with its small but distinctive church spire last resting place of the famous canal protagonist and engineer James Brindley dominating the skyline.

After Newchapel & Goldenhill the line turned left, and started its 1 in 40 descent for over one mile, towards the Cheshire Plain, and in a deep cutting for much of the distance. Here it severed in to two, the old Clough Hall ironworks and colliery site and if one was lucky, one might get a brief glimpse of one of the Birchenwood Coking Plant locomotives, high up on the cutting side. Finally, at a high elevation and overlooking much of Kidsgrove, the line wound its way through the town, to rejoin the main line, just over seven miles from Etruria.

The Loop was a difficult line to work in terms of gradients and curvature, and with the six station stops, journey time was the best part of 30 minutes.

 

preface to "The Potteries Loop Line" - A.C. Baker



next: Demise of the line
previous: Formation of the Loop Line