My home town of Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire, UK is famous for a few things, most notably the beer brewing industry and the home of Marmite, the yeast extract spread that divides the nation.
However, until 1949 it wasn’t the only railway station in town. Part of the Derbyshire & Staffordshire Extension line ran from Burton station (the station is officially called “Burton-on-Trent”, even though the proper name of the town is “Burton-upon-Trent”) to Tutbury & Hatton station. Stations were located at Horninglow, Stretton and Rolleston-on-Dove, and they all closed to regular passenger services on 1st January 1949.
Burton on Trent Railway Station
After the invention of the steam engine, railways were springing up all over Great Britain in the early 19th Century. In 1839, it came to Burton upon Trent, in spite of some opposition, when the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway built a line from Derby to Hampton-in-Arden, from where trains would reverse towards Birmingham. The original Burton station consisted of a small timber building and an adjacent level crossing. It soon proved popular, and there were frequent traffic jams on the approach to the station from Cat Street, which was later renamed Station Street, as brewery drays and passenger horses and carts vied for space at the station. A more substantial two-storey building was later constructed, though the level crossing remained.
Meanwhile, the local breweries began constructing their own railway lines in order to move goods to and from their sites around the town. At one point, more than 30 level crossings were to be found in and around Burton, which began to cause traffic problems in the mid-20th Century as vehicular traffic increased. Most of the brewery lines closed by 1970 and the tracks were uplifted. Very little, if any, of the brewery railways remains. It is possible to see today, via Google Maps, where some of the lines were located. For example, Worthington Way in Burton which leads from Station Street to the High Street was a former railway line which ran past what is now the library on to sidings where the Meadowside leisure centre is now located. Evershed Way, a link road opened in the 1990s from St. Peter’s Bridge to Shobnall Road was also the site of a former brewery railway line.
In 1881, it was decided to build a new railway station a couple of hundred yards south of the first station, which was completely demolished. A bridge over the railway line was constructed, linking Station Street to Borough Road. The new station was a grand building with a canopy over the front entrance. A staircase, the same one that exists today, led down to an island platform which had buildings running the full length of the platform, including waiting rooms, toilets and a WH Smith newsagents stand. The station opened in 1883 and had regular services towards Derby, Birmingham and was also the terminus of services to Lichfield and Leicester, until those routes were closed in the 1960s.
In 1970, as the town of Burton on Trent was in the midst of massive change due to old brewery buildings being closed and demolished throughout the town and new, more modern developments taking place, it was decided to demolish the old Victorian station and replace it with a new one. The magnificent old station buildings were all flattened, and a new brick and concrete building took its place, with its distinctive lift shaft tower poking out of the top of the building. In the early 2010s, a renovation took place which involved the clearing of asbestos and some pretty hanging baskets being hung up, as well as improvements for disabled access and lighting. In 2019, a new bus bay and taxi rank was constructed outside the station on the site of the former car park, enabling easy access for buses and taxis.
Horninglow Railway Station
The first station heading north from Burton on Trent was Horninglow, around a mile from Burton station. It opened in 1883 adjacent to a level crossing which crossed Derby Road. The level crossing was unusual because there was a set of turnstiles, similar to the ones found at a football ground, where pedestrians could cross the road. There were two platforms and a small brick and timber station building. A signal box was also located at the station, but this was demolished in 1966, shortly after the final freight train travelled on the line. As mentioned before, the station was officially closed to passengers in 1949, but the line remained in use for the occasional excursion train and freight trains. The station building was converted into a cafeteria upon closure and remained there until the 1990s, when it was finally demolished and replaced by housing. Houses on Albion Terrace currently occupy the station site.
Of the site today, a few clues remain as to the location of the railway station. The station master’s house was painted white and is now a private residence, surrounded by part of a small industrial estate. Another clue is a slight hump in the road next to the old station house. It’s not a speed-calming measure; it is actually where the railway line crossed the old A38 Derby Road.
The line continued further north from Horninglow, following the path of what is now Princess Way, the main road into Stretton from Burton. At the time the line was open, there were mostly fields between Horninglow and Stretton, but many housing developments have been built since then and the area is more suburban than it used to be.
Stretton & Claymills Station
Stretton and Claymills station was opened on the line in 1901. “Claymills” is actually called “Clay Mills”, but the railway companies referred to it as one word. Clay Mills is most famous for the Victorian pumping station which dealt with Burton’s sewage until it closed and was replaced with a more modern facility. The pumping station remains in full working order and is a popular tourist attraction in the area.
The railway station consisted of two platforms, and timber-built station buildings with waiting rooms and a booking office. Access to the station was via Bridge Street in Stretton. The station, along with the others on the line, was closed in 1949. It remained standing for fifteen years until it was finally demolished in 1964. In 1920, a gravel loading dock was installed on the other side of the bridge. The remains of this are still intact and are now part of the Jinnie Nature Trail which begins a few yards from the site of Stretton & Claymills station.
The site today is a hard-surfaced path leading from Main Street in Stretton to the Jinnie Trail entrance. There is a small section of railway track next to the path, with a plaque explaining where the station used to be. The bridge is no longer there, but the road still bears the name Bridge Street. As at Horninglow, the station master’s house still exists and is now a private dwelling situated to the left of the entrance to the path which leads to the station site.
From the Stretton and Claymills station site, the route of the old railway line continues across Bridge Street and onto the Jinnie Trail entrance. The Jinnie Nature Trail is a nature trail leading from Stretton to Rolleston. It is popular with dog walkers and joggers, and contains many original features of the railway line and the station at Rolleston on Dove.
Rolleston-on-Dove station opened in 1894 and consisted of two platforms and timber station buildings, much like Stretton and Horninglow stations. The main booking hall building consisted of the booking office, gentlemen’s and ladies’ waiting rooms and toilets. A small waiting shelter stood on the other platform.
The station boasted goods facilities, including a milk dock for local farmers to distribute their wares by train. Livestock, coal and other goods were also handled at the goods yard. A crane was located on the site, and an outline of the location of that can still be seen at the station site today.
The station was closed to regular passenger services on 1st January 1949 along with Horninglow and Stretton stations, although excursion and freight trains continued to use the line until the 1960s, when the track was lifted and the station was demolished. The station master’s house can still be seen on South Hill, a road which runs past the former station site. It’s a privately-owned house today.
Thanks to local volunteers, the former Rolleston-on-Dove station site is well maintained and retains many former features. The platforms are still there, with the former trackbed being filled in. A replica running-in board has been erected, similar to that which was on the platform in the station’s heyday. A bench has also been installed on the platform, along with information boards telling the story of the station’s past. As mentioned before, the Jinnie Trail leads from the station up to Stretton.
Across Station Road at the end of the Jinnie Trail, a small mound can be seen just beyond a field that is usually full of horses. This is where the track carried on, over a bridge which has since been demolished. The track continued over the fields and diverged near the River Dove. On the west line, there stood a bridge which has since gone, except for the pillars which remain upstanding in the river. The western section of the line continued towards Tutbury & Hatton station, which remains open today, and the eastern part of the line continued towards Derby, via Egginton Junction station, which closed in 1962.