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2. The Potteries Railtour 1952

This tour took place on Saturday 26th of April 1952 and explored the byways of south Cheshire and north Staffordshire.

The reporting code was W575 and the train consisted of four express bogie coaches hauled throughout by Aspinall 2-4-2T no 50703 of Warrington Dallam shed. It was assisted over one section by Stanier 2-6-2T no 40201.

The tour commenced at Crewe just after quarter past two and here we see 50703 blowing off impatiently before departing for the first leg of the journey to Sandbach. This loco survived less than a year after this photograph was taken, being withdrawn on March 31st 1953 and cut up at Horwich Works where it had been built in 1893.

The special arriving at Sandbach - its first port of call, where a reversal will take place.

50703 has now run round her train and is ready to continue, chimney first, towards Stoke-on-Trent by way of Wheelock, Lawton Junction and Kidsgrove Central.

A stop was made at Wheelock to explore what was left of the station. It was closed as long ago as 1930 by the LMS. The trackbed at this location forms part of a footpath named 'The Wheelock Rail Trail'.

The safety valves on 50703 have lifted indicating that she has got her breath back and is ready to continue her journey towards Kidsgrove. The participants make their way back to their seats.

Passing Lawton en route to Kidsgrove

Taking water at Kidsgrove Central. There was an allowance of five minutes in the booked timings for this task, from 15.17 to 15.22 then away via Harecastle tunnel to Stoke-on-Trent and Stoke Junction for the route to Leekbrook and Cauldon.

Assistance was obviously required for the run to Caldon and it was provided in the shape of Stanier 2-6-2T no 42201.
This is the train at Caldon (or Cauldon) Quarry awaiting deparure back to Leekbrook Junction.

We are now back at Leekbrook. 42201 has come off and the L&Y veteran has run round and is being made ready for the next part of the journey. This will be via Leek to North Rode, the junction with the Manchester to London main line, where yet another reversal will take place.

Another stop for water was made in Leek Station. Note the fine gas lamps on the platform.

From North Rode the train changed direction again and ran down the main line to Congleton Upper Junction where it turned left to take the loop line to Stoke Junction. A photo stop, shown here, was made at Biddulph.

The rest of the tour was Stoke, Newcastle under Lyme, Keele, Leycett, Alsager East Junction (reverse) then via Alsager Station back to Crewe where the day ended at 8pm. All for the princely sum of thirteen shillings and sixpence!

All photographs are from the MLS collection.

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Last update December 2023. Comments welcome: