Nantwich and Market Drayton Railway

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Nantwich and Market Drayton Railway
West Coast Main Line
Market Drayton Junction
Coole Pilate
North Staffordshire Railway to Stoke
Market Drayton
Wellington and Drayton Railway to Wellington

The Nantwich and Market Drayton Railway was a standard gauge railway line which began as a single line branch in the early 1860s and rapidly became part of the Great Western Railway's double track Wellington-Crewe line. It carried through-freight and local passenger traffic until closure in the 1960s. Market Drayton was renowned for the manufacture of gingerbread, hence the line acquired the nickname "Gingerbread Line".

Junction Diagram


This company was provisionally formed in 1860, as the Market Drayton and Madeley Railway, after changing its name to Nantwich and Market Drayton Railway on / or before 3 April 1861, and incorporated in June 1861. The first Chairman was Reginald Corbet, of nearby Adderley Hall.

The single track line was built from the LNWR Crewe and Shrewsbury Railway line just south of Nantwich to a terminus at Market Drayton, a distance of ten miles. Construction started in 1862 and the line opened in October 1863.

Proposals were for the railway to be worked by the LNWR, but instead the Great Western Railway took on this role and worked the nominally independent line until it was taken over by the GWR in 1897.

The line was doubled during 1866-7, to match the Wellington and Drayton Railway which opened in October 1867, thus providing a link for the GWR between the midlands and the northwest.

The North Staffordshire Railway line from Stoke to Market Drayton opened in January 1870, joining the line at Silverdale Junction, just north of Market Drayton.

An engine shed and turntable which had been built at Market Drayton were no longer needed when the Wellington and Drayton Railway opened, as locomotives were then based at Wellington, so they were sold to the North Staffordshire Railway.

During 1934-5 unmanned halts were opened at Coole Pilate and Coxbank.

Passenger service was withdrawn in 1963. Freight service continued until 1967, the line providing a relief route during the electrification of the London-Crewe line. The lifting of the line was completed during 1970.


Passenger traffic was modest, typically about six local stopping trains a day in each direction. Most ran between Crewe and Wellington, some continued to/from Manchester to the north and Worcester or Wolverhampton (for Paddington) to the south, or included through coaches for the extended routes. During the line's latter years excursion trains were seen, and during its final year the "Pines Express" between Manchester and Bournemouth used the line.

Freight traffic was much more significant. Typically there were about twenty trains a day in each direction, of which two would be local goods, and the remainder would be through traffic, either non-stop over the line or stopping only at Market Drayton. Principally these carried manufactured goods from the Midlands to the NorthWest, also fruit from the Worcester area. There was little coal and mineral traffic.

Preservation/Future Use[edit]

On New Year's Day 1992, The Market Drayton Railway Preservation Society (later renamed Nantwich & Market Drayton Railway Society 18 years in 2010) was set up in order of preserving of what remains of the old railway line between Nantwich and Market Drayton on the Cheshire/Shropshire Border.

A new site would have to required for Drayton Market as the old site no longer exists as it is now a supermarket with other parts of the line via Coxbank and Audlem changing slightly since the old line's heyday.

As of April 2012, the society currently holds meetings most-monthly to provide talks about how a part or 2 of the line could be preserved.


  • Yate, Bob (2005). By Great Western to Crewe. Usk: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-639-6. 
  • Lester, C.R. (1983). The Stoke to Market Drayton Line. Usk: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-293-5. 

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