Steam on the last remnant of the “Potts”
15 November 2009
Five years ago, I had explored some of
the railway remains south and west of
Oswestry - including that former
extremity of the "Potts", the Nantmawr
branch (see "Cambrian Ramblings").
Yes, the rails were still in place - and
within a year, they had been cleared of the 30-odd years-
worth of undergrowth by an offshoot group of the Cambrian
Railways Society. Their efforts would bear fruit in November
2009, when the top end of the line, north of the "white gates"
that I had visited, would see steam - and, for the first time
ever, a passenger service.
Weather and other activities meant we weren't
there for the official re-opening, but the sun was
shining today - how about a visit?
"Passenger service" is perhaps a misleading
description - but a ride in an ex-GWR "Toad" brake
van, in the company of an ancient Beyer Peacock
(1827 of 1879) seemed just about right for this wonderfully rural
little line. There's only half-a-mile of track in use at present
(some legal work is required before trains can operate back to
Blodwell Junction), so for the £5 fare we got two trips
down the line. Great fun, and very atmospheric on this
mild, still and sunny afternoon.
As well as plans to get back to Blodwell,
there is work going on north of today's
operating limit, where track is still being
cleared for perhaps a further ¼m of
operation, and a platform is planned. To
the east of the site, nature trails and
picnic sites are being created in the old
quarry workings - perhaps before long the
Nantmawr branch will be a popular
summer venue for families. Well worth keeping an eye
(The branch has a most intriguing history - it was originally
constructed by the Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway.
That ill-fated undertaking's line from Shrewsbury closed in 1880, to
be revived some 27 years later by Colonel Stephens as the Shropshire
and Montgomeryshire Railway - but operation of the Nantmawr
branch had by then passed to the Cambrian. Thus it eventually
became part of the national network - and the last remnant of the
Potts, an unlikely survivor)
Geoff’s Rail Diaries