2020 Travels – Longton and Stoke on Trent

For once, the weather was kind to me on my travels today. It was a warm and sunny August day as I headed for Longton and Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire.

My journey began at Burton on Trent station, as usual. The station was a little bit busier than it normally is at that time, with people taking advantage of the fine weather and heading out and about. I boarded the train to Derby, which was already delayed by a couple of minutes. I thought I would have plenty of time to make my connecting train to Longton, but it was delayed even further by the time I got to Derby, and I only had four minutes to get my next train. By a stroke of luck, my train from Burton had been re-routed to the same platform that my next train was going to depart from, so I only had to step off one train, walk for ten seconds and get on the other train. Which was also delayed by two minutes.

The train passed through stations I had previously visited; Tutbury & Hatton, Uttoxeter and Blythe Bridge before arriving at Longton.

Longton railway station opened in August 1848 by the North Staffordshire railway. It is located on an embankment, and there are stairs to street level from both platforms. A large cantilevered bridge passes over the streets below. Part of the local industrial history, a bottle kiln, can be seen from the platforms. On platform one, some greenery has been planted to make the station look more presentable. The station is unstaffed, with a ticket office located at street level having been unused since the 1990s.

Longton itself is one of the six towns which merged to form the present city of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910. Its most prominent feature is the large retail area, Longton Exchange, located near to the station, with many famous large retailers having shops there. Culturally, Longton was the site of famous rave venue Shelley’s, which was closed in 1997. The main industry in Longton, as in most of the Stoke area, was pottery. Some ceramics factories are still in operation in the area, as well as the Gladstone Pottery Museum.

From the station, I walked up King Street to Victoria Road, where I stopped off at the local park, Fenton Park. It’s a beautiful and well-kept park, which seems to be popular with dog walkers.

After a half-hour walk around the park, it was time to go. I was headed for Stoke, from where I would get the train back to Burton. I stopped off at the local Asda for a sandwich, and then I walked to Hanley Park, a large municipal park in Stoke dating back to the Victorian era.

Hanley Park was officially opened in 1897. It has many features, including children’s play areas and also the distinctive pavilion and bandstand, both fine examples of Victorian architecture.

The park was quite busy when I visited, with locals taking in the summer sunshine. The pavilion has a cafe, which was open for business today. A canal (the Caldon Canal) runs through the park, which is an unusual feature. I had a pleasant stroll around the park, and stopped off to eat my lunch on one of the benches.

Across College Road, there is another park called Cauldon Park, which was originally part of Hanley Park until the road was built through it. Cauldon Park’s main feature is a large fountain.

Cauldon Park fountain.

After my day in the parks, it was time to head home to Burton on Trent. It wasn’t as simple to get to Burton from Stoke as it was to get there. I had to change trains twice. Off I headed to Stoke on Trent station to catch my first train.

Stoke-on-Trent railway station was first opened in October 1848, replacing a temporary station at the site. It has changed very little on the outside since it was built, retaining its Victorian feel. The inside the station feels vast and cavernous, with a distinctive glass roof. Over the main entrance is a memorial arch dedicated to those who died during the First World War.

From Stoke, my train travelled to Stafford station, via Stone. I have added Stone to my list of stations to visit, as I liked the look of it from the train. The train soon arrived at Stafford, a station I had previously visited in April 2018 on a day trip to the town. From there, I caught my next train to my old favourite station, Tamworth. Regular visitors to the blog will know that I always get lost in Tamworth station. I’m staring to figure out the layout, though, and I easily found my way out of the station (although I did follow a family out, so that helped). I had about 45 minutes between trains, so I headed to the Tamworth Castle grounds for a quick look around there. I previously visited Tamworth back in February, and you can read about that here.

Tamworth Castle.

As you’d expect on a day like this, the town centre and pleasure grounds were quite busy. There was a funfair on the grounds as well. As much as I would have liked to have gone on the rides, it was time for me to make the final journey of what was a long and tiring, but very pleasant day out.

Tamworth station in all its glory.

You’ll be pleased to read that I successfully made it to platform 3 on the upper level with no problems at all. I’m getting the hang of this place. After a short wait for the train, I climbed aboard and rode the one stop to Burton.

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