Stoke–Leek line

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Stoke–Leek line
Leek Brook
Wall Grange
Stockton Brook
Milton Junction
Bucknall and Northwood
Stoke on Trent
Fenton Manor tunnel (
106 yd
97 m
Fenton Manor

The Stoke to Leek line is a mothballed railway route, which up until 1988 was used by BR freight trains to reach the quarries at both Cauldon Lowe and Oakamoor.

The line is made up of two sections; The first section is the remains of the former Biddulph Valley Line, which used to run from Stoke-on-Trent to Congleton, with the section from Stoke to Milton Junction being intact. This used to be a double track section, but was rationalised to single track after the loss of the passenger services.

The second section is the former single track connecting line to Leek from Milton Junction, passing through the villages of Milton, Stockton Brook and Endon before meeting the Churnet Valley Line at Leek Brook Junction for the 1 mile run into Leek. The section from Endon to Leek Brook though used to be double-tracked but was singled at the same time as the first section.

Both of these lines were part of the North Staffordshire Railway network that was constructed in the second half of the 19th century. The Biddulph Valley line was authorised on 24 July 1854, with passenger services commencing in 1864. The Milton to Leek was authorised during 1863, with the passenger and goods service commencing on 1 November 1867.

Possible re-opening[edit]

With the end of freight traffic from Cauldon & Oakamoor in 1988 the line went out of use, but was designated as a strategic freight site.[1] In 2009, Moorland and City Railways Ltd (MCR) obtained a 150-year lease on the Cauldon Lowe Branch from Network Rail with the intention of reopening the line for quarry traffic.[2] This would require the use of the Stoke–Leek line as well, and negotiations have been ongoing since 2010 regarding the return to service of the line.

In January 2012 the Churnet Valley Railway (CVR) stated its intent to run a heritage service to Endon from Leek Brook as the first stage of this, following the clearance of vegetation along the line in 2011 that enabled a comprehensive survey to be undertaken of the trackbed and structures along this section. The CVR then began planning the replacement of sleepers, but were forced to stop as a local resident made a village green application for the trackbed, claiming that the line had become a village green through its lack of use as a railway for a number of years and that many locals used it as a recreational area already. This was eventually rejected by Staffordshire County Council, as none of the criteria for village green status was met.[3]

Negotiations have continued between MCR (plus CVR) and Network Rail in order to agree operating conditions for the planned heritage services on a restricted number of dates to Endon. In early 2013 it was announced that the CVR would be looking to take a tenancy out on part of the former station building to open a tea room to create a presence within the village and signal its commitment to returning trains to the station.

It has been proposed that the line could be reopened following the government's plans to expand the network.[4]

This line has been identified by Campaign for a Better Transport as a priority 1 candidate for reopening.[5]

In March 2020, a bid was made to the Restoring Your Railway fund to get funds for a feasibility study into reinstating the line between Stoke and Leek. This bid was unsuccessful. [6]


  1. ^ "Strategic and Supplementary Freight Sites". Network Rail. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "New rail link 'best thing in years for Moorlands'". The Sentinel. 15 October 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Agenda item: Application to Register Land along the Disused Railway Line at Endon as a Town or Village Green". Staffordshire City Council.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Restoring Your Railway Fund: bids received