I have almost finished visiting every railway station in the county of Staffordshire, and on Friday 5th May, I went to Hednesford, a former coal mining town just north of Cannock.
It took three trains to get there from Burton on Trent; one to Tamworth, then to Rugeley Trent Valley, and then on to Hednesford. Whilst I was at Rugeley Trent Valley, the King and Queen made an announcement on the PA wishing us all a good Coronation Weekend, and King Charles III reminded us passengers to “mind the gap”.
Hednesford railway station first opened in 1859 by the Cannock Mineral Railway Company, who were taken over by the London & North Western Railway a decade later. It was closed as part of the Beeching Cuts in 1965 and the station buildings were demolished. In 1989, a new station was built on the other side of the bridge as part of British Rail’s re-opening of the Chase Line. It was originally the terminus of the line, but a second platform was added in 1997 when the line continued to Rugeley Town. Outside the station, there is a sculpture on the signpost, reflecting the mining history of the town.
I left the station to head to the Market Place, and the square in the middle of the town.
Close to the market square is a Davy lamp sculpture, in honour of the miners who worked in the area. Some of their names are inscribed on the wall around the sculpture.
I took a walk through the town centre to my next point of interest, Hednesford’s War Memorial. I have seen some impressive war memorials on my travels, but Hednesford’s is up there as one of the best.
Across the road from the War Memorial is Hednesford Park. First opened in May 1911, it has been extensively refurbished in the last ten years. One notable addition is an old signal box, Hednesford No. 1, which was moved to the park in 2014. It stood on its original location next to the railway line since 1877, but had to be closed when the line was electrified. It was saved from demolition at the last minute, thanks to a National Lottery grant, and moved to the park.
The park is one of the most pleasant I have been in, and I’ve been in a few parks over the years. I followed a pathway which had a series of notice boards every few metres, telling me about bees. I’ve forgotten everything I learned from them, though. The park also has a selection of sculptures, of which I found two of them.
The brick chair pictured above was created in 1999 by sculptor Rosemary Cripps, who crafted the whole thing with clay bricks, which were carved into the design, then carefully dismantled and hollowed out so the bricks would not fracture in the kiln when they were fired. Nineteen years later, in 2018 it was finally assembled in the park, although it has since succumbed to the graffiti which has blighted so many places recently.
Next to the park is the biggest Tesco supermarket I have ever seen. I paid it a visit to buy some lunch, and then headed back into the park to walk back around to the main entrance.
The next place on my itinerary was the Museum of Cannock Chase. Set in a former coal mine building, the museum is free to enter and has displays telling the fascinating story of the area, from its coal mining past through to the present, and also a display looking at the former Rugeley Power Station, which operated over two coal-powered stations between 1961 and 2016. The cooling towers were demolished in June 2021, and the site is being redeveloped. There was also a small toy display which brought back some happy childhood memories for me.
After leaving the museum, spending an hour in there, I took a walk around the nearby Hednesford Hills Local Nature Reserve, established on the site of the former coal mine.
Fans of motorsports will know about Hednesford Hills Raceway, located to the east of the local nature reserve. It is a short-circuit oval track which first opened on the site of an old reservoir in 1954, and has featured on BBC TV’s Top Gear.
I had a couple more places to visit nearby on my itinerary, but time was getting on, and I had to head back home. I arrived back at Hednesford station, expecting a half-hour wait for the next train to Rugeley Trent Valley, but one arrived just as I got there. That’s why there’s so few photos of the station on here.
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