A RAIL37 Churnet Valley Railway picture report

 30th August 2000

 I had cause to go to Stafford on 30th August and remembered that this was the last mid week operating day at Cheddleton for Summer 2000 - I had to visit. 80136 was on duty with visiting loco 48305 misbehaving and 44422 now out of ticket and withdrawn for overhaul. I arrived at 11.45 to find the car park quite full and much steam and hooting coming from the station where 80136 was preparing to take out the first train of the day.

 The trains run to Consall, perform a runround manoeuvre then run back to Cheddleton where they pass through to Leekbrook. Here the locomotive repeats its run round and hauls the train back to Cheddleton. I decided to miss this one and photograph it by the River Churnet on its return, but first a visit to photograph 80136 on the starting blocks and then the Cafeteria for something to eat.

 Elton Crossing signal box posing as Cheddleton box. Regrettably, the signal box was not open because there was nobody available that day to supervise access and ensure the safety of visitors.

 48305, on hire to the railway, waits at the shed door.

 The shed contains original NSR relics notably the battery locomotive which used to work at the Thomas Bolton copper works at Oakamoor further down the valley, this, together with NSR 0-6-0T No 2, is on loan from the National Rail Museum at York. (now removed).

 80136 departing from Cheddleton.

 The Cafeteria at Cheddleton.

 Class 25 "Tamworth Castle"

 Down to the riverside now which means a walk over the Churnet bridge and onto the Cauldon Canal towpath, past the Boat Inn and along the river bank to find a decent spot. The problem is that the train is coming from the South out of the sun and the river is between me and the line so a telephoto passing shot is the only possibility today.

 80136 arriving at Cheddleton from Leekbrook.

 The buffet car host, the late John Burgess.

 Consall station.

 At Consall the train performs its runround procedure which gives passengers time to get off and watch the proceedings or have a quick look around.

 Note the waiting shelter originally serving the up platform at Consall and how it overhangs the Cauldon Canal.

 The general condition of the stock is very good and very comfortable to ride in, not at all claustrophobic as modern unit stock appears to be these days.

 Cooler from a class 25 diesel?

 Cheddleton up platform.

 Arrival at Leekbrook which is the junction with Railtrack's line from Stoke-on-Trent to Cauldon Lowe quarries, the track is in situ and there is a threat to reopen the line for traffic in the near future. The Churnet Valley line is not accessible from the main line at this point in time but who knows what the future will bring! Once again the loco performs its runround jaunt but there is no possibility to disembark here. In the distance can be seen the derelict signal box which once controlled this busy junction, the Churnet Valley Line ran North through Leek and past Rudyard Lake to join the Stoke-Manchester line and South for Alton Towers, Uttoxeter and the West Coast main line. Alongside the track is a wire fence behind which once ran an electric tram to Cheddleton Hospital.

 All in all a very good day out with some magnificent stock and scenery, the staff are all friendly and the ride down the valley most entertaining.

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