Wood Anemone The Churnet Valley - A Brief History
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1179
The Cistercian Order founds Croxden Abbey.
C1200
Bloom smithying of iron is recorded at Hestewelle, now known as East Wall.
1214
The Cistercian Order founds Dieulacres Abbey.
1244
Dieulacres Abbey is permitted to build a bridge over the 'Chirnete'. This is the earliest recorded instance of the river name, although it's probably much older than this, being most likely a Celtic word of unknown meaning.
1290
The manor of, 'Hounds Chedle', is gifted to Croxden Abbey.
1297
Most of Leek is destroyed by a fire.
1319
The great animal plague, probably anthrax, which was affecting much of Europe, found its way into North Staffordshire, wiping out large numbers of cattle.
1349
The Black Death kills about a third of the population of England.
1361
The Black Death (second pandemic) breaks out in Oakamoor killing, especially, large numbers of children.
1538
Henry VIII dissolves the monasteries and the Croxden and Dieulacres Abbey estates are broken up.
1573
A water-powered hammer mill is established on the Churnet at Oakamoor.
1593
A furnace is built in Dimmingsdale to smelt the local ironstone. The site is now known as Oldfurnace.
1608
The furnace in Dimmingsdale is closed.
1709
A stone bridge is built across the Churnet at Oakamoor.
C1750
A forge is established at 'Cunshall' - the place is now called Consallforge.
1762
Trustees of the Blythe Marsh to Thorpe turnpike road, which passes through Oakamoor, meet for the first time.
1770
Copper smelting begins at Whiston.
1776
Construction of the Caldon Canal and first Caldon Low tramroad begins.
1778
The main line of the Caldon Canal to Froghall Old Wharf, the Norton Green branch and the first Caldon Low tramroad open.
The bridge across the Churnet in Oakamoor is widened to turnpike standards - you can still see the join.
1785
The Froghall Tunnel is dug and the Caldon Canal is extended to its current terminus.
The second Caldon Low tramroad opens, replacing the awkward and dangerous first line and using the new wharf at the new terminus of the canal.
1790
The first phase of iron working in the valley ends.
1792
A brass wire mill opens in Oakamoor.
1797
Acts of Parliament are passed authorising the construction of Rudyard Resevoir, the Leek Arm of the Caldon Canal and canals from Froghall to Uttoxeter and Ashbourne. The plan for the Uttoxeter Canal is intended as a spoiler for the proposed Commercial Canal, which would be a serious rival to the main line of the Trent and Mersey. The problem is, they are now expected to build it.
1801
The Leek Arm of the Caldon Canal and the feeder from Rudyard Reservoir open.
1804
The third Caldon Low tramroad opens, replacing the steep and dangerous first and second lines.
1807
Ten years after the first Act of Parliament, construction of the Uttoxeter Canal finally starts.
1808
The first section of the Uttoxeter Canal, between the Caldon Canal at Froghall and Oakamoor, is opened.
Construction of the Woodhead Tramroad begins, to carry coal from the Woodhead Colliery, near Cheadle, to the Uttoxeter Canal at East Wall.
1809
The Uttoxeter Canal reaches Alton.
1811
On Tuesday the 3rd of September, the Uttoxeter Canal finally reaches Uttoxeter. The Ashbourne Branch is never built.
1812
Construction of the Woodhead Tramroad runs out of money and a half share is offered for sale. There are no takers.
1815
Construction of the North Stafford Railway, a.k.a. Consall Plateway, begins. The intention is to link Consallforge with Lane End, Longton. It reaches Weston Coyney by 1819 but is never completed.
1827
Alton Wire Mill opens and the Woodhead Tramroad is finally completed.
C1840
What traffic there was on the North Stafford Railway, mostly between Consallforge And Lime Wharf Bank, dwindles to nothing and the line is abandoned. Part of the line in Chase Wood is now a footpath, with many of the stone sleepers still in place.
1847
The Caldon Low Railway opens, it uses modern railway technology and replaces the worn-out third tramroad.
The North Staffordshire Railway buys out the Trent and Mersey Canal, including its Caldon, Leek and Uttoxeter branches.
1849
On the 15th of January, the Uttoxeter Canal officially closes, having lost money since the day it opened.
On the 13th of July, the North Staffordshire Railway Churnet Valley Line opens, built partly on the line of the canal.
1852
A Cornish miner, mining for coal in the valley, finds haemetite. The ironstone boom begins.
1859
A dam is built across the Churnet north of Leek to create Tittesworth Reservoir.
1877
An attempt is made to repair and reuse the Woodhead Tramroad. It is not successful.
1890
The Whiston copper smelter closes.
1920
Limestone traffic via Froghall ceases and the Caldon Low railway closes.
1923
The last ironstone mine, "Cherry Eye", closes.
C1930
The last remnant of the Uttoxeter Canal, Froghall Lock 1 and the mooring basin below it, fall into disuse.
1939
Commercial traffic on the Leek Arm of the Caldon Canal ends.
1944
The Leek Arm of the Caldon Canal is officially abandoned.
1948
The canals are nationalised.
1957
Leek Basin is filled in by the local council.
1961
An attempt is made to close the Caldon Canal.
1963
Oakamoor wire mill closes.
1964
The railway north of Leek closes.
1965
The railway south of Oakamoor closes.
The last deep coal mine in the Cheadle Coal Field, Foxfield Colliery, closes.
1968
The Caldon Canal becomes a "remainder" waterway.
1970
The railway from Leekbrook to Leek closes. Leek is now cut off from the national rail network.
1972
Restoration of the Caldon Canal begins.
1974
The Caldon Canal reopens.
1983
The Caldon Canal is upgraded to "cruising" waterway.
1988
The railway line to the sand quarry at Oakamoor closes. This was the last section of the former North Staffordshire Railway still in use.
1989
Consall Nature Park and visitor centre open.
1994
Opencast coal mining of the Cheadle Coal Field ceases.
1996
The Churnet Valley Railway begins to operate between Cheddleton and Leekbrook Junction.
1998
The Churnet Valley Railway is extended to Consall.
2001
The Churnet Valley Railway reaches Froghall.
2003
The Froghall tunnel is refurbished and reopened with a lowered water level, improving access to Froghall Wharf and the junction with the Uttoxeter Canal.
2005
On the 23rd of July, Froghall Lock 1 and the mooring basin below it on the Uttoxeter Canal are reopened.
2010
On the 13th of November, Moorland & City Railways reopen the quarry line from Leekbrook to Cauldon Lowe.
2014
On the 24th of March, Thomas Bolton Limited goes into administration, signalling the end of copper working in the valley.
2015
Outline planning permission is granted to reinstate the railway from Leekbrook to a new station in Leek.