2022 Travels – Penkridge

On a very cold and very early Saturday morning, 8th April 2022, I travelled to the historic Staffordshire village of Penkridge, five miles from Stafford. I had to catch three trains to get there, changing at Tamworth and at Stafford. I left Burton on Trent at 06:20 and arrived at Penkridge less than an hour later.

Due to short platforms at Penkridge, I had to make sure I was on one of the front four carriages of the eight carriage electric train when I boarded at Stafford. Fortunately, the platform at Stafford has the carriage number painted on it, so I knew which one to get on.

Stafford station

Penkridge railway station was originally opened in 1837. Local landowner Baron Hatherton allowed trains to run over his land, on condition that two trains per day stopped at Penkridge. When the station was threatened with closure in 1962, the Baron threatened to withdraw the right for trains to cross his land, and so the station was reprieved. In a normal virus-free year, the station sees around 250,000 passengers, probably commuters travelling to nearby larger towns and cities such as Birmingham, Stafford and Wolverhampton.

The station building survives at Penkridge, but seems to be unused. A subway connects the two platforms, with ramps up to platform level for step-free access.

I left the station and walked to the nearby church, St Michael and All Angels, the main church in the village. The railway station cuts through the graveyard, and there is a small and narrow walkway under the railway line.

Close to the church is a bowling club, and next to that is Penkridge Festival Garden, a very small area with benches. As it was so early in the morning, there were not many people around. The area around the church is the oldest part of Penkridge, with many historical buildings still surviving to this day.

Market Street is the main shopping street in Penkridge. Aside from a modern Co-op supermarket, the shops and businesses on the street are mostly independent.

The old market place is surrounded by more old buildings, including the Gothic House, a pub, a primary school and the old village gaol (‘jail’ in modern parlance). which has been preserved as a visitor’s centre.

I headed out of the village centre towards the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal which runs through the village.

Along the way, I passed the Haling Dene Centre, a huge hall which is now used as a community centre and for weddings, christenings and other such events.

Haling Dene Centre

The canal itself was busy, with a lot of boats moored up along the towpath. A few people were also out for an early morning walk in the cold sunshine.

I walked back up to the village centre via a residential area which had a stream running through the middle of it. To my surprise, I also so a tree with a tyre hanging from a rope. I haven’t seen one of those for years! I would have had a go on it, but the tyre was too small for me and I would probably have ended up getting stuck in it.

Further north from the centre of the village is the Penkridge Viaduct, also known as the Seven Arch Bridge. This was built in 1837 and carries the railway line over the River Penk. Close to the viaduct is the Penkridge Market, a thriving market which takes place twice a week, and also on bank holiday Mondays.

Soon, it was time to get the three trains I needed to get home. The train from Penkridge was packed with racegoers, all dressed up and heading for Aintree to see the Grand National (the train was on its way to Liverpool). My train from Tamworth to Burton was no less packed, this time it was Birmingham City fans on their way to Nottingham to see their heroes lose 2-0 to Nottingham Forest.

Thanks very much for reading. There will be no trip this coming weekend, seeing as it’s Easter, but I hope to be back on the rails in a couple of weeks. You can follow the blog on all the top social media outlets; all you need to know is at this link.

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