Sunday, April 06, 2008

Progress Report 12 - The line gains an identity

Ever since its inception, the line has had no real identity. This weekend, after some deliberation and a little inspiration, the Peckforton Railway has been born.



It has been assumed that the copper mining industry which was located in the area became more lucrative, creating the need for the transportation of ore. In addition, the rise of the tourist trade seeking the health giving spa waters from the Peckforton Hills and visiting Beeston Castle led to the establishment of the railway. It was never highly profitable, but survived largely because it did not cost a great deal to build, its running costs were minimal, and the local landowners found it convenient to take them to the races.

The principal station for the Peckforton Railway is at Beeston Market beside the Chester and Crewe mainline Railway.

Beeston Castle and Tarporley mainline station.
Renamed Beeston Market & Tarporley on the opening of the Peckforton Railway

Interchange sidings are provided for transferring the copper ore and other goods. Now disused, a further siding ran to the canal.

After running beside the mainline for a short distance, the Peckforton Railway veers off towards Beeston Castle with a steady fradient to Beeston Castle station under the shadow of the castle itself and within easy walking distance of the village. A single goods siding is provided for local goods.

After crossing Peckforton Road via a level crossing, the railway runs parallel to the road. Passing beside Peckforton Mere and the entrance to Peckforton Castle, the line reaches the village of Peckforton where there is a halt.

The line continues through a cutting before a short branch runs off towards Peckforton Gap, originally to serve a non productive copper mine shaft, but later adopted by the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board to support the building and later maintenance of their reservoir and pumping station.

The railway then reaches Bulkeley station, where there are two sidings, one serving the local mill. Built originally as a corn mill, it was later converted to a timber mill, powered by steam and ultimately by electricity.

After crossing the A534 Wrexham Road, a further branch runs off to the copper mine complex and ore crushing plant. Fortunately, with the rising price of copper and the discovery of a series of rich seams in the area, the industry has survived to the present day, albeit as a low key industry.

The derelict copper mine at Bulkeley (in reality, the rich seam was not discovered)

The line continues through a further cutting to the terminus of the line at Bickerton Station where there a two goods sidings and a loop serve the local communities of Bickerton, Brown Knowl and Harthill. The local production of cheese still provides some regular traffic as does the tourism for those wishing to walk the Sandstone Trail and visit the maiden castle.

The model as it exists represents part of the line. The terminus station is a slightly cut-down model of the station at Beeston Market. The existing through station will be Beeston Castle. A new station will be built to represent Bulkeley and a branch will be added leading to the terminus of Bickerton.

See also A Tour of the Hypothetical Line

At first, a route was planned from the copper mine to Malpas Station, in the opposite direction.

However, the local landowners were keen for the line to run past their estates and the company realised that a connection to the mainline and a station beside Beeston Castle would attract tourist traffic.

For interest, here's a picture of cheese trains being loaded at Broxton Station

These two pictures 'borrowed' with thanks from Disused-Stations.org.uk

<< Go to Progress Report 11

2 comments:

Eric Hall said...

You need an extension through Broxton and into Wrexham to tap into the coal supplies around there - a cheap source of power for your copper smelters. And then an extension through Tarporley to tap into the urban population there and then out to the Chester-Northwich line. A much shorter route for Wrexham coal to reach the Manchester conurbation, a useful outlet for the agricultural produce of the area, and a source of income at weekends as city-dwellers come to walk in the hills and visit the castles. No point in having rolling stock and having it lying empty.

Ge Rik said...

Great ideas, thanks Eric. I did think of running the line on to Malpas (easier terrain than the steeper drop down to Broxton) when I originally planned the line, but thought the Crewe - Chester line would be better for transhipment. I like the idea of tapping into the coalfields around Wrexham. I was assuming that the ore would be taken in its raw state to somewhere like Alderley Edge for smelting - but it actually makes more sense for it to come from Alderley to Bickerton with the proximity of the coal.