Foxfield Railway

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Foxfield Railway
Wimblebury on the Foxfield Railway - 2009-04-26.jpg
Wimblebury seen working a train at Dilhorn Park
Locale Staffordshire
Terminus Caverswall Road
Coordinates 52°58′33″N 2°03′52″W / 52.97570°N 2.06454°W / 52.97570; -2.06454Coordinates: 52°58′33″N 2°03′52″W / 52.97570°N 2.06454°W / 52.97570; -2.06454
Commercial operations
Original gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Stations 2
Length 2 14 miles (3.6 km)
Preserved gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
1893 Opened
1965 Colliery closed
Preservation history
1965 Railway preserved
Foxfield Railway
Foxfield Colliery
Dilhorne Park
Caverswall Road
Crewe-Derby Line to Stoke-on-Trent
Blythe Bridge National Rail
Crewe-Derby Line to Derby

The Foxfield Railway is a preserved standard gauge line located south east of Stoke-on-Trent. The line was built in 1893 to serve the colliery at Dilhorne on the Cheadle Coalfield. It joined the North Staffordshire Railway line near Blythe Bridge. It is open at weekends and operates trains on Sundays, Bank Holidays and some Saturdays from April to October and Santa Special trains in December.


The Foxfield Railway was built in 1892-1893 to provide a link to the North Staffordshire Railway for the Foxfield Colliery. The railway was built by local labour provided by North Staffordshire Railway employees at weekends and supervised by the North Staffordshire Railway foreman plate layer Noah Stanier, using second hand material, again obtained from the North Staffordshire Railway.[1]


When the colliery closed in August 1965,[2] local volunteers formed the Foxfield Light Railway Society to preserve the line. At first, passengers were taken in converted trucks up the formidable 1:19 to 1:26 gradient out of the colliery site at Dilhorne, accompanied by a tank engine.

Eventually, new coaches were purchased and a station was built at Caverswall Road, Blythe Bridge, half a mile from Blythe Bridge station. The service runs for 2 14 miles (3.6 km) from there to the top of Foxfield Bank. The last half mile into the colliery is currently being relaid to suitable standards for passenger trains to be re-introduced.


The original line left the Crewe to Derby Line a little west of the station. The link has been lifted, but several abandoned wagons can be seen in the old sidings from passing trains. A station and depot have been built at Caverswall Road, half a mile north of Blythe Bridge railway station along Blythe Bridge Road.

Although located in Staffordshire, the railway has been used for the filming of sequences for the BBC Television series Cranford, which is set in Cheshire. The railway featured in the two-part Christmas special that was first broadcast in December 2009. Judi Dench, who played the part of Matilda 'Matty' Jenkyns, invited several of the main characters to ride on the train in an attempt to alter their opinions about the benefits of the railway being extended into the town of Cranford.[3]

The station at Caverswall offers visitor facilities such as a Buffet serving hot and cold food and drinks and a Real Ale bar "The One Legged Shunter". Also a museum building displaying a variety of artifacts relating to local railways and locomotives currently out of service.

The railway operates Sundays and Bank Holidays from April to October and Santa Special trains during December.

Locomotive fleet[edit]

The Foxfield Railway has the largest collection of standard gauge steam locomotives in Staffordshire, most of which are of industrial origins.

Operational steam locomotives[edit]

Steam locomotives undergoing overhaul or restoration[edit]

  • Robert Heath & Sons Ltd. 0-4-0ST No. 6 built in 1885, rebuilt in 1934. Undergoing overhaul.
  • Hawthorn Leslie and Company 0-4-0ST "Marston, Thompson & Evershed No. 3". (works number 3581 of 1924).[4] Undergoing long term overhaul.
  • W. G. Bagnall 0-4-0ST No. 2623 "Hawarden", built in 1940. Undergoing overhaul.
  • Avonside Engine Co. 0-4-0ST No. 1563 "John Paton". Undergoing long term restoration.
  • Peckett and Sons 0-6-0ST No. 1567 "Ackton Hall No 3", built in 1923. The only surviving example of an inside cylindered 0-6-0 Peckett. Acquired from the National Coal Mining Museum in July 2015. Dismantled for restoration.

Stored steam locomotives[edit]

  • North Staffordshire Railway 0-6-2T No. 2 built at Stoke works in 1923. On static display in the museum building. Transferred from the National Railway Museum to Foxfield and arrived at the railway on the 21 April 2016.
  • W. G. Bagnall 0-6-0ST No. 2 "Florence". Withdrawn at end of 2015 for overhaul.
  • Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST No. 933 "Henry Cort". built in 1903. On static display in the Museum building awaiting overhaul.
  • Kerr Stuart 0-4-0ST No. 4127 "Moss Bay". built in 1920. On static display in the museum building.
  • Kerr Stuart 0-4-0ST No. 4388. Stored in the yard awaiting overhaul.
  • W. G. Bagnall 0-6-0ST No. 2221 "Lewisham". built in 1927.[5] Stored awaiting overhaul after its boiler ticket expired in late 2007.
  • Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. 0-4-0F Boots No. 1. (works number 1984 of 1930).[4] Offsite on long term loan to West Somerset Railway
  • Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST No.1803 "Ironbridge No. 1". built in 1933. Awaiting overhaul, on display in the museum.
  • Peckett and Sons OY Class 0-4-0ST Works No. 2081 "No. 11". built in 1947. Awaiting overhaul, on display in the museum.
  • Sentinel Waggon Works 4w No. 9535. built in 1952. On static display in the yard. However, restoration is being considered.
  • Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST No. 2107 "The Welshman". Built in 1890. Stored at Foxfield Colliery awaiting restoration. On Loan from the National Coal Mining Museum

Operational diesel locomotives[edit]

The Foxfield Railway also has an extensive accumulation of industrial diesel locomotives, of which three are operational.

  • W. G. Bagnall 3150 0-6-0DM, Wolstanton No 3[4]
  • W. G. Bagnall 3207 0-4-0DH, Named Bagnall[4]
  • Thomas Hill 111C 4wDH (Rebuilt from Sentinel 4wVBT)[4] The loco is now operational after an extensive restoration through 2013/2014.

Diesel locomotives undergoing overhaul or restoration[edit]

  • Andrew Barclay 486 0-6-0DH Clive, ex Meaford Power Station Locomotive No 4 (In process of being returned to working order) Bodywork repaint in BR warning yellow as per Central Electricity Generating Board livery completed 5th November 2016. Lettering saying CEGB, Meaford Power Station and varnishing to take place in Spring 2018 and the frames will be blacked with red wheels. New engine mounts currently being furnished.
  • Yorkshire Engine Company 2868 0-6-0DE Ludstone. Restoration started in 2015, which mainly focused on cosmetics, and the prevention of further corrosion to the locomotive. Mechanical work is now underway.[4]
  • John Fowler 22497 0-6-0DM No. RT1. Privately owned, joined the railways diesel fleet on 01/03/2017, currently undergoing a major restoration since she last run in 1987.
  • Ruston & Hornsby 408496 4wDM )'88DS') Shanks No 444 Undergoing long term restoration which began in February 2017. Engine lifted out in November 2017 along with most of the cab.

Non-operational diesel locomotives[edit]

Non-operational electric locomotives[edit]

The Foxfield Railway also has one industrial battery electric locomotive. The locomotive is currently non-operational due to a lack of batteries or overhead lines on site.

  • English Electric 1130 4wBE/WE (built 1939)[4]

Passenger carriages[edit]

The railway has a collection of carriages from a wide range of years which are used to take passengers up and down the line.

  • Operational passenger carriages
    • Mk 1 Corridor Second (SK) No. M25607.
    • Mk 1 Brake Corridor Second (BSK) No. 34672.
    • Mk 1 Tourist Second Open (TSO) No. W4762.
  • Passenger Carriages undergoing overhaul, restoration or light work
  • Stored passenger carriages
    • MR 6w Luggage/First/Third class compartment carriage no. unknown (body only). Awaiting restoration.
    • MR bogie third class compartment carriage No. 01101 (body only). Stored awaiting restoration.
    • Mk 1 Corridor Second (SK) gangwayed carriage No. M25225. Stored at Dilhorne Park awaiting major restoration. Unlikely to be restored.
    • LMS Theatrical Scenery Van No. 37519 (converted to the passenger carrying Bass Belle Observation Bar Car). On static display but eventually planned to be overhauled to working order.
    • LMS third class gangwayed vestibule coach No. 27249. awaiting overhaul
  • The NSR Rolling Stock Restoration Trust

In 2008 a small group was formed with the aim of restoring the two surviving North Staffordshire Railway 4-wheeled coaches, with a long term aim of recreating a proto-typical Victorian train that would have once operated in the local area. The Knotty Trust, as it has become known as, was registered as a charity in 2009 and in 2012 received a £30,000 grant for the completion of the first vehicle (no. 127).[6] This was completed at Stanegate Restorations, who have become a major supporter in the recreation of a Knotty Train.[7] Since then the collection has grown to include other former 'Knotty Coaches' that have been discovered, as well as other historically important vehicles.

Number Type Status Notes
28 First (FY) Awaiting Restoration Owned by the NSRC, based at the Churnet Valley Railway. Given to the KCT on a 99-year loan in 2014, and so an appeal has now been launched for this vehicle's restoration.[8]
61 Third (TY) Operational The second vehicle to have to have been restored by the KCT. Entered service in August 2014, after a visit to the CVR to launch the "Project 28 Appeal".
127 Third (TY) Operational The first vehicle to have to have been restored by the KCT. Entered service in August 2014, alongside 61.
Brake Third (TB) Under Restoration One of three newly discovered vehicles found in woodland alongside Rudyard Lake, though no number has presently been identified. These vehicles were recovered in October 2014, with the Brake Third being sent away immediately for restoration to begin at Stanegate Restorations.[9] Plans for conversion into an 'Accessible Brake Coach' were announced in November 2014 ahead of the Warley Model Railway show, which will include disable access to the vehicle.[10]
First (FY) Stored One of three newly discovered vehicles found in woodland alongside Rudyard Lake, though no number has presently been identified. These vehicles were recovered in October 2014, and put into store whilst other projects take priority.[9]
First (FY) Stored One of three newly discovered vehicles found in woodland alongside Rudyard Lake, though no number has presently been identified and only half of this vehicle really exists following numerous years in the open. These vehicles were recovered in October 2014, and put into store whilst other projects take priority.[9]
MR Six-wheel Composite Luggage (CLZ) Stored One of two former Midland Railway vehicles donated to the KCT. One of only three survivors, the other two having been restored at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and National Railway Museum respectively. No recognisable number has been found on the body to date. This vehicle is planned to be restored once a fully operation Knotty Train is operational.
1108 MR Bogie Third (T) Stored One of two former Midland Railway vehicles donated to the KCT. This vehicle is planned to be restored once a fully operation Knotty Train is operational.
NSR Brake Van Stored The sides from an original NSR Break Van was found being used as a barn on Kingsley Moor, including the original painted Knotty emblem. These have been recovered and are now stored at Foxfield.
4384 LMS Covered Carriage Truck (CCT) Stored Donated to the trust to assist with the eventual restoration of the CLZ.
731945 LMS Goods Brake Van Stored Frame only. To be modified for use with the ABC.
DB 993867 Shark Brake Van Operational On loan to the KCT. Has been painted in fictitious Victorian Brown livery to operate with 61 + 127 until the ABC is complete.

As of December 2014, the Knotty Coach Trust had 3 main projects underway.

  • Project 28 - Restoration of First Class no 28
  • ABC Appeal - Restoration of former Brake Vehicle, including provision for disabled passengers
  • Shed Project - The KCT has always wished to build accommodation for the restored train. Originally plans were proposed for a new shed at the former colliery, but in Autumn 2014 the Foxfield Railway agreed for the KCT to take charge of plans for a new two-road shed at Caverswall Road. This will see sufficient storage spaces created to keep the KNOTTY HERITAGE TRAIN permanently under cover & available for viewing access to the public when not in operation.

Freight wagons[edit]

The railway also has a selection of freight wagons, in order to preserve what remains of Britain's industrial history.

These include the ubiquitous '16 ton' mineral wagons which were associated with coal trains and the railway in the 1960s, and also examples of 21 ton hopper wagons also used for coal traffic.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]