North Staffordshire Railway

The following article is from an unknown newspaper of the time. It is an example of why the railway development of communications in the mid-19th century has been dubbed the internet of the age. Railway lines appear to have been built faster than Openreach installs Broadband

September 16th 1848
Opening Of The Line From Uttoxeter To Burton-On-Trent

A very important portion of this county, rich in attractions, but hitherto shut out as it were from the rest of the shire, through the want of public conveyances, has this week been rendered accessible for purposes of business and pleasure, by the opening of the railway from Uttoxeter to Burton-upon- Trent. Most of our readers are aware that the branch from Stoke to Uttoxeter has been worked for some weeks, so that there is now uninterrupted communication between the Potteries and the Midland Railway at Burton; and after the opening of the main line to Crewe, which is expected to take place in October, the stream of traffic between the east and west of the kingdom may be expected to flow through Staffordshire. To the Potteries the line to Burton is fraught with more advantages than may at first appear. Not only will the prices of many articles of food and luxury be sensibly affected by direct communication with the fine agricultural districts which produce them in abundance, but an outlet will be opened towards quarters in which the earthenware of Staffordshire has been superseded by that of the northern potters, in consequence of the superior advantages the latter have enjoyed in the matter of freights. The passenger traffic may not at present be very extensive, except perhaps by excursionists; but there is every reason to hope that at an early period the line will be much used for the conveyance of corn, coal, timber and earthenware.

We have so recently described the line from Stoke to Uttoxeter , 16.5 miles in length, that we shall take it for granted that our readers know all about it, and proceed at once to a notice of the 13 miles between Uttoxeter and Burton, which were opened for public use last Monday.

These 13 miles constitute the southern portion of the Churnet Valley line, and although double tracks of rails are laid, only one of them will be used until the completion of the entire undertaking of the North Staffordshire Company, next spring. To show the celerity with which the works have been prosecuted, we need only state that it is but twelve months since the first sod of the line from Uttoxeter was turned.
It is a peculiarity of this railway that it is carried upon an embankment its whole distance, with the exception of passing through one cutting. The materials for the embankment were obtained from side ditches, which in many places resemble canals running parallel with the railway. The embankment is of course, raised above flood level, the valley of the Dove, down which the line runs, being subject to frequent inundations. Owing to the nature of the strata, which are chiefly marl and gravel, the earthwork has not been particularly heavy. Generally speaking the gradients are about 1in 600 or 800, keeping the gradual fall of the valley. The cutting to which we have already alluded runs near the intersection of the road from Rolleston to Derby. It is about a mile and a quarter in length, and rather deep midway through, the sides exposing strata of red, yellow, green and white sand and marl, with an intermixture of gravel.

Another peculiarity is that although the line is crossed by several important turnpike roads, and many accommodation roads, it has only been necessary to erect two bridges. One of them is a three-arched structure of blue brick, for the use of the Rolleston and Stretton road, just where the line emerges at the northern end of the cutting, and the other a wooden bridge for foot passengers over the deepest part of the cutting , some half a mile or so nearer Uttoxeter.

The River Dove and some of its tributaries are repeated crossed – in two or three instances by viaducts of timber, or, as it is technically termed “wood gearing”. They appear to be of a very substantial description.

At present the only stations are those at Sudbury and Tutbury; but it is intended to open more as the principal points of traffic become developed. Both the stations and the lodges at the level crossings-of which there are several- are built of red brick, with ornamental tile roofing, and the Elizabethan style of architecture which has been adhered to throughout.

The junction with the Midland line takes place about half-a-mile from the previously existing station at Burton, which will serve the purpose of both companies.

We shall not be accused of exaggeration by those who know the country through which the railway passes, if we say it is almost unsurpassed in beauty and fertility, in scenes of historical association, and objects of interest to the antiquary. Entering the valley of the Dove at Uttoxeter, we find ourselves opposite Doveridge Hall, the seat of Lord Waterpark: an edifice not without architectural pretensions, but chiefly remarkable for its fine situation- the crowning point of a rising ground which overlooks the river and commands a fine open view of the vale and the town of Uttoxter. Farther on to the north, we see the woods and towers of Alton and Wooton and the landscape is bounded in the distance by the bold outline of the Weaver Hills. As we proceed down the line, Doveridge Church- an ancient structure of the early English style of the 13th century- comes into view on the left, its spire first peeping above the surrounding woods; the beautiful “river of the mountain and the mead” winds its way close beside us; while on the right is Woodford Bank, a picturesque property belonging to Lord Bagot. Farther on we gain a full view of the west front of Sudbury Hall, a very pleasing specimen of the domestic architecture of the 17th century. The design is attributed to Inigo Jones. Sudbury is one of the seats of Lord Vernon. It was a few years ago the residence of the Queen Dowager, and is now occupied by Henry Clay, Esq. Below Sudbury the valley widens, and Needwood Forest stretches away to the right. A point of the county of Derby, which juts into Staffordshire, is crossed by the railway, and we pop upon the sequestered village of Scropton, consisting chiefly of a few brick houses, with outbuildings of moss-covered timber, showing that in days of yore the adjacent forest furnished a ready supply of cheaper building materials than brick or stone. But that which gains attention most at Scropton is the quaint old church, with its weather-beaten tower, and the graveyard that lies in solemn stillness around. The remains of Tutbury Castle now rise before us. Nearer and nearer we approach, until the wooded height, topped by the ruins becomes perfectly enchanting. No picture of the place we have seen presents so fine a view as that which is gained from the railway, either for extent or general effect. Tutbury station is a little farther on, and those who leave the train there, and walk over the bridge that spans the Dove, through the town, past the fine old church, and to the summit of Castle Hill, will be well repaid, both by what they will see on the way, and the prospect that will at last meet their gaze.

The county below Tutbury is very fine on both sides of the line, with here and there the spires of churches seen above the tall ancestral trees amidst which the sacred edifices appear to be embossed. Near Horninglow the railway crosses the Trent and Mersey Canal, then the Burton and Derby road, and at last it terminates in a junction with the Midland, nearly opposite the Barrow Hills, and not far from the town of Burton. There is much in Burton which, as we have not left ourselves space to describe, we can only recommend our readers to “go and see”. “They will find the curious old bridge of thirty-six arches across the Trent well worthy of a visit; and if they refrain from quaffing the nut-brown beverage to which the town owes its celebrity, all we can say is, they have greater power of self-denial than we possess; and should any mishap afterwards befall them, the wires of the electric telegraph which are laid all the way to Stoke, will immediately transmit a message to their friends”.

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Last updated: 28 September 2016