As part of my mission to visit every single railway station in Staffordshire, I made huge strides towards the finish line on Wednesday 23rd March. It was an unseasonably sunny and warm day, a far cry from the storms just a couple of weeks ago as I made the three-train trip from Burton on Trent to Landywood, a small village not far from the border with the West Midlands county.
The journey began smoothly enough from Burton to Tamworth. I even managed to find my way to the correct platform at Tamworth, but when I got to Tamworth, I discovered that a faulty train was causing disruption and cancelled trains at my next destination; Rugeley Trent Valley. I considered heading back to Burton and calling the whole thing off, but I decided to carry on to Rugeley Trent Valley and see what would happen.
Rugeley Trent Valley station was opened in September 1847 on the north-eastern edge of the town of Rugeley. The original station buildings are now privately owned by a local business. In fact, the station is surrounded by an industrial estate. From the mid-1960s until 1998, only local services towards Stafford and Rugby called at the station, but trains now regularly travel to destinations as far away as Crewe and London Euston from the station. There are three platforms at the station, and all lines are electrified. Due to the short platforms, only the front four of the eight car trains used by the train operating company, West Midlands Trains, can be used at Rugeley Trent Valley.
The disruption I mentioned earlier was causing havoc with the trains by the time I got to Rugeley Trent Valley. My scheduled train had been cancelled, but there was the possibility that a delayed earlier train would call at the station. I constantly refreshed the National Rail app on my phone for information and the dot matrix display kept updating the expected time. Eventually, an announcement over the PA confirmed that train had been cancelled. The next one was due forty minutes later, so I left the station to explore what was around the area. I then had a bright idea; I could walk to Rugeley’s other station, Rugeley Town, and catch the train to Landywood from there, thus ticking off Rugeley Town from the list.
The walk took about twenty five minutes, even allowing for Google Maps sending me the wrong way at one point. I didn’t have time to stop and admire the delights that Rugeley surely has to offer on this occasion, but I could always come back some other time.
Rugeley Town railway station originally opened in June 1870 and was closed in the Beeching cuts in 1965. A new station, was built and opened close to the site of the original in June 1997, as part of the re-opening of the Chase Line. It is as basic as railway stations can be, with no buildings apart from waiting shelters. A footbridge spans the platforms, with no easy step-free access between the platforms. I arrived in good time for the train which took me three stops to Landywood.
Landywood is part of the wider parish of Great Wyrley, just south of Cannock. I was headed down to the south of the area to walk the Wyrley and Essington Branch Local Nature Reserve path. It follows an old canal branch up to a new residential suburb, where it comes to an abrupt end.
The path was much shorter than I thought it would be. There is another section which runs southbound from Landywood towards Bloxwich, which I might add to my ever-growing list of places to visit.
Close to Landywood station is a park with paths and an open water area with stepping stones across it. Many local people were taking advantage of the clement spring weather in the area, having a stroll or walking their dogs.
In case you’re wondering if I crossed the stepping stones, of course I did. I have no photographic evidence of this, as I was worried that either I or my phone was going to fall in, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I decided to head for home, as there was a train due half an hour later, and there is only an hourly service from Landywood station. I inadvertently explored the shopping parade and local amenities on the way to the Co-op supermarket to buy some lunch, as I couldn’t find the entrance to the Co-op. This was after I had started heading the wrong way from the Stepping Stones, although that was my fault because I got left and right mixed up on my itinerary.
Everything was resolved and lunch was duly purchased. I walked back to the station to eat it and wait for the train back to Rugeley Trent Valley.
A small halt station was opened at Landywood in 1908, but this was short-lived and closed in 1916. The present station was built and opened in 1989 as part of the first phase of the re-opening of the Chase Line. Landywood’s platforms are staggered, with a footbridge next to the road connecting the two platforms. A previous station further up the line, Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay railway station, opened in 1858 but was closed in the Beeching cuts in 1965.
The journey back to Burton was less fraught than the journey to Landywood, thankfully. Thank you very much for reading.