Hadnall & District History Group
Notes from the meeting to discuss the railway in Hadnall
22 February 2007
What transport existed before the railway was built? The turnpike
road (Shrewsbury to Preston Brockhurst) had been constructed about 70
years earlier. Most people walked everywhere except those that
could afford a horse or carriage. Goods were transported by wagon
– a slow and unreliable method during winter.
Why was the Shrewsbury – Crewe line built? – It was the last of the
major routes in the area. The Industrial revolution had enabled a
huge manufacturing heartland to be built in the Manchester area and the
industries needed to get their products out into the World. At
that time ports on the west coast of Wales were being looked at as
quick ways of achieving this if they had good rail access.
Milford Haven was one such port. The LNWR could see that this new
line would link up with the Shrewsbury – Hereford line and a connection
could then be made to South West Wales.
Building the line. Little information about the building of the
line was forth-coming except that The Bibby family (Bibby Shipping
Line) would have contributed to the building of the line as it would
have speeded their journey to Liverpool and the company offices.
The line was reported to be built to the highest standards then
available and is in fact remarkably “straight” along its course.
Reports that Queen Mary visited Sansaw to see her brother may have
contributed to the fact that Yorton remains open still.
The design of Hadnall station matches very closely that of Prees
(demolished). Comparisons by photographs of the station in old
photographs and the current building reveal few changes. Passengers
entered the platform before buying their tickets on the right hand side
of the building. The cloakroom was on the left.
Mr Hollingsworth was the last station master and was a popular, if
authoritarian, figure. He was responsible for the station winning
best-kept station awards. An article on the award ceremony had been
sent to us and the photograph was displayed – unfortunately no-one
positively recognised either of the other two employees( Was the third
from the right Mr Lloyd?). Mr Hollingsworth was reported to have
retired to a cottage near Wood Farm to live with his daughter, but had
since died. John Pears was reported to have been the station
master in the 1871 census. Apparently there were a lot of Pearces
working on the railways locally.
Photographs of the station were displayed and the various buildings
discussed. In later photos a wooden(?) building near the bridge
was felt to have been the lamp hut, as it was detached from the main
building. In older pictures it appears to be beyond the
Shrewsbury platform on the north side. The steep ramp nearby was
remembered – was this for loading horses etc. One photo shows a
passenger train with a horse box after the engine. There was no
evidence of a cattle dock in any of the available pictures, though
photos have come to light since showing the cattle dock to be beyond
the signal box.
Many local inhabitants remembered that passengers crossed the track on
a wooden walkway under the bridge. A set of steps on the Hadnall
side of the bridge led down to the station area. From
photographs, the platforms were quite short and were judged to only
hold about 5 carriages- locals report that the engine always stopped
under the bridge!
The signal box appeared from distant photographs to be similar to the
existing box at Prees. Subsequent examination of photographs suggests
it was only 3 bays not four as at Prees. John Thomas was a
signalman at one point. The box was always kept immaculately
clean. As well as the signalman, there may have been a “box-boy” whose
job it was to record the train movements. Not all boxes on the
line were to the same design – Crewe Bank is a different design but
looked a more modern design.
It was reported that there were no accidents on the line due to signal
errors. It is known that there was a fatality on the line in
about 1907 when someone was hit on the line between the station and
Haston Bridge – reports are a bit vague as to the details.
Photographic evidence came to light shortly afterwards that there had
been a derailment in the yard when 73026 had come off the rails
possibly at the head of a goods train. This might be on a
Saturday, as there is a large engine (Brittania?) in the yard
too. The Crew Bank area was apparently bombed in the war but no
other war damage could be recalled. A local was reported to have
been involved in holding up a red lamp to stop trains after the event.
Plans of the station area were displayed – the early ones and 1901 all
show only one siding in the yard. No more recent map was to hand
details as photographic evidence suggested that by the Fifties there
were at least 3 sidings in the main yard area. Perhaps the
proximity of Shawbury Airfield necessitated the building of extra lines
during the War. Locals confirmed there was a lot of activity
then. The headshunt for the yard went nearly all the way to
Haston Bridge. In the plans, a loading ramp could be seen behind
the signal box in 1901.
What did happened in the yard? Certainly coal was delivered –
wagons from the Lilleshall Coal company and Boulton(?) could be
seen. Local farmers said that milk and sugar beet were regular
loads. The milk always went to Liverpool and Manchester.
Wood Farm always delivered its milk over the wall of the platform on
the Crewe platform. A wagon load of potatoes on their way to
Ludlow in 1943 were stolen over a weekend. Sugar beet was loaded
into open wagons. Other commons loads would include the
agricultural machinery need locally (one photo shows a tractor on a
wagon in the yard). Fertilizer was also a common load.
Listeners were reminded that demurrage might be payable if the load
stayed in the yard too long – unless the porter could be
“persuaded”! Some debate ensued as to why one photograph showed a
train of carriages and bogie vans(ventilated?) in the yard. It
was winter so it was possibly not a train there for some crop.
Perhaps it was only old stock being stored there before disposal – the
carriages were possibly LNWR/early LMS designs and so old.
One of the more interesting stories that is recounted concerns the fact
that Hadnall was the regular destination of engines from Crewe that had
recently had a major overhaul. Photographs showed trains of 1, 2
and 3 engines waiting on the headshunt line to return to Crewe (all
were seen to be facing Crewe, so must have backed down!).
Apparently in the Fifties and Sixties, this was a regular occurrence on
Saturday mornings. Engines were run in over the 30 miles from
Crewe Works down to Hadnall, waited there for an hour and then left
again at 12.25pm. One such “train” consisted of engines numbered 42462,
45436 and 45377.
What was the service like for passengers? The small platform
length would mean that main line services would be unable to
stop. The service was therefore always stopping trains. The
initial service from 1858 was 5 trains each way and would of course
have been in 4- or 6- wheel carriages with no toilets and hard
seats! The service in 1922 (from Bradshaw) saw no improvements –
still only one train on a Sunday. Service later did get better
with up to 16 trains per day given in some books. A poster for a
1934 day excursion to New Brighton was examined and the likely
“hardships” that would have meant for families taking this trip!
The train left Hadnall at 08.05 (from Minsterly) and arrived at New
Brighton at 10.20. The return journey left at 9.10 pm and would
have arrived back in Hadnall around midnight. What parents did
with their children over this period left some imagining!
In one photograph taken by a local lady around 1960 shows 45644 “Howe”
arriving in the station under the bridge – obviously about to stop
(porters on the platform) Perhaps it was on a running-in turn as
it appears quite clean and is a big engine to be on such a
service. Some details of the engine’s later history were given.
September 1950 Based at Perth
January 1957 Based at Longsight
January 1961 Transferred to Crewe
September 1963 to December 1963 Stored at Crewe (South)
November 1963 Withdrawn
January 1964 Cut up at Crewe
Some examples of tickets from Hadnall were shown and the costs remarked
Why did the station close? Probably it was too close to
Shrewsbury and with the bus service too few people used the
trains. Perhaps the other stations were lobbied for more
successfully – though this must surely not have been the case for
Yorton. Prees Station is miles from the village!
A very pleasant evening was spent discussing all sorts of issues
related to the railway in the community. Hadnall & District
History Group is very grateful to all those who attended the meeting
contributed information or sent along artefacts for us all to enjoy.
Any more related information would always be gratefully received, so
that a follow-up meeting may be possible at some time in the future.