The Churnet Valley Railway is a remnant of the North Staffordshire Railway, built in the 1840s in a distinctive style.
After passenger services ceased, many structures were demolished or allowed to decay.
The C.V.R. has an ongoing campaign of restoration and rebuilding that is slowly putting things right.
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Leekbrook Station is currently at the northern limit of the Churnet Valley Line, until the Leek Extension is completed. It was built in the late 19th century to serve St. Edwards Mental Hospital. There was only ever one platform, where passengers and goods were transferred to and from the hospital tramway. The grade-II-listed signal box is being restored to control Leekbrook Junction, where the Churnet Valley Line meets the Stoke-on-Trent and Cauldon Lowe Lines.
Cheddleton Tunnel is 531 yards long and would originally have been double-track. The "down" track has been lifted, leaving the "up" track hugging the left-hand side. For some reason, different sources quote different lengths for the tunnel and some even refer to it as "Leekbrook Tunnel". I have opted for the sign next to the north portal as the official line.
Cheddleton Station is an original survivor of the North Stafforshire Railway, built in the Jacobean style, typical of the N.S.R. The building contains the ticket office and a small museum of artefacts from the railway. The original signal box was burnt down in the 1970s but has been replaced with this authentic N.S.R. example, rescued from Elton Crossing on the Sandbach branch.
Consall Station wasn't added to the railway until 1902. It was so squeezed for space, between the river and the canal, that one platform and its waiting room were built overhanging the canal. The current station is a replica, the original having disappeared in the 1980s. The original signal box was also lost but has been replaced with another authentic N.S.R. example, transplanted from Clifton.
London Bridge was named after the company that built it to carry ironstone over the railway to the Caldon Canal. "Consall Minerals Limited" had its head office in London and was known locally as the "London Company".
The original Kingsley and Froghall Station was demolished in the 1960s. Its replacement was completed in 2004 and includes a victorian tearoom. Early in 2010, the C.V.R. moved its administration offices from Cheddleton into the first floor. This was previously a holiday flat, which was not profitable. In 2007, a shelter was added as part of the restoration of the "up" platform, in anticipation of services to Oakamoor. It was used on a few special occasions, until the track was lifted in 2015.
Approaching Oakamoor from the north, the line used to pass through Oakamoor Tunnel, before crossing Mill Road on a level crossing. This is another tunnel for which different lengths; 462yds, 497yds and 550yds are quoted. The tunnel is currently disused and fenced-off. The former crossing-keeper's house has survived and is now a private dwelling. The crossing itself has gone but may be restored, if the C.V.R.'s ambition to run its tracks through to Alton is realised.
Oakamoor Station was another N.S.R. Jacobean-style structure. Unfortunately, in the 1970s, after years of dereliction, it was set on fire and then demolished. The platforms, however, were left and the site of the station building has been gravelled-over and is used as a car park. In places, where the gravel is thin, the remains of a tiled floor can be seen.
Alton Station was built in an Italianate style to please the Earl of Shrewsbury, who owned nearby Alton Towers. It is now owned by the Landmark Trust and can be rented as holiday accommodation. In late 2009, much of the site was cleared of trees, revealing the down platform and the bay platform, which had previously been lost in the undergrowth. Also revealed were the passenger walkways leading up the hill towards Alton Towers.
Denstone Station was built for another bigwig family, the Heywoods, who owned what is now Denstone College. They were obviously not as influential as the Shrewsburies, as their station was much humbler than Alton. Only the platforms remain.