When I started the East Midlands Ranger Area challenge in February 2019, I soon discovered that some railway stations would be easier to visit than others. Some of them have a regular hourly or half-hourly service, some have more trains at peak time (morning and afternoon) than they have during the day, and then there’s stations like Polesworth in Warwickshire.
In 2005, the West Coast Main Line was upgraded and electrified. Polesworth station was located on this line, and closed for the whole of that year. A footbridge over the tracks was removed to facilitate the installation of overhead cables, but was never replaced due to the cost being unjustified. Since then, only one train per day calls at Polesworth. At the time of writing, it is the 0650 London Northwestern service towards Crewe on weekdays, and one at 0722 on a Saturday morning.
Now, I have to be honest here. The original rules of the East Midlands Railway Area challenge I set myself were that I had to be on a train which stopped at the station. With the best will in the world, there was no way I could be on a train at ten to seven in the morning travelling towards Tamworth. So, I hatched a plan to get the train to Tamworth, then catch a bus to Polesworth station. As far as I am concerned, I have visited Polesworth station and I can cross it off the list. Call it a kind of rail replacement bus service.
Polesworth railway station originally opened in 1847, but passenger numbers declined in the 1980s, and services were reduced. It formerly boasted goods and livestock facilities, station buildings with a booking office and waiting rooms. All of those have now gone. The station now sits at the end of a suburban residential street. The gate is kept locked, and I assume that someone comes to open it in case there are any passengers waiting to catch the morning train.
Polesworth itself is a small village in Warwickshire, just a few miles east of Tamworth. It is a former coal mining village, though the mines have all since closed. The River Anker runs through the village, as well as the Coventry Canal, which was my first destination after leaving the railway station.
It was a sunny and peaceful walk up the canal to Pooley Country Park, a park and nature reserve established on the site of an old coal mine. The park is bisected by the noisy M42 motorway, and the main railway line also runs past it, so it is not the best place to go for a quiet, serene walk.
The centrepiece of the park is a giant 40ft monument called “Gold Leaf – Buried Sunlight” which was installed in 2011 at a cost of £100,000. It is a long walk up a big hill to the top, but it is well worth it.
I headed back down the canal to Polesworth, from where I would catch the bus back to Tamworth. I had a bit of time to spare, so I had a bit of a wander around the village, which was fairly quiet.
I stopped off at a shop near Polesworth Abbey to get some lunch, then had a walk over the bridge over the River Anker to Queen Elizabeth II Park, a public open area with paths, bridges and a children’s play area and skate park. I walked to the bus stop outside the fire station and waited for a bus which never arrived. Fortunately, another one was due not long after, and that one did turn up, so I got on it, rode it to the railway station, and then got off.
I need not have worried about missing my train, because it was nearly twenty minutes late, thanks to a late running freight train. Apart from that, it was a very good day out, and I recommend a visit to Polesworth. Just don’t get the train there, unless you like early mornings.
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