John Speller's Web Pages Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Narrow Gauge

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The Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway or “Potts” for short was an over-ambitious plan to build a line connecting the quarries at Nantmawr and Criggion via Shrewsbury to Market Drayton and then via the North Staffordshire Railway to Stoke-on-Trent and the Potteries. The line was built through extremely difficult terrain and at the time was the most expensive railway outside London ever built. The Shrewsbury to Market Drayton section was never completed. Since the Great Western and London & North Western Railways refused to allow the Potts to use their station at Shrewsbury General, the company had its own station at Shrewsbury Abbey, just to the north-east of the main line station. The line opened in 1866. Only a small section of the line was in Wales, the rest being in Shropshire. The section from Llanymynech to Potteries Junction, Shrewsbury was originally double tracked. The line was strongly supported by the North Staffordshire Railway who had visions of eventually obtaining access to North-West Wales, although this would have involved even heavier engineering work through the mountains. The line was poorly maintained and suffered several bankruptcies.

The section north-west of Llanymynech was taken over by Cambrian Railways in 1900, and subsequently passed to the Great Western Railway in 1922. Passenger service ended in 1951, and most freight in 1964, but freight traffic on part of the line lingered until 1988. Part of the line reopened in 2009 as a heritage railway under the auspices of the Cambrian Heritage Railways Trust.

The eastern section remained fallow until 1911 when it was taken over by Colonel Stephens as the Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Railway. Passenger service ceased in 1933. After abandonment by Stephens the line was taken over by the War Department in 1941, who ran it until closure in 1961.

Map of the eastern (Shropshire & Montgomeryshire) section of the Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway
Train at Shrewsbury Abbey in 1870 behind a Bury, Curtis and Kennedy 0-4-2 locomotive built for the LNWR in 1947
Map of the western (Cambrian/GWR) section of the Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway excerpted from the GWR system map
The station at Blodwell Junction illustrates well the rudimentary nature of the facilities provided on the Potts line. Image © copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License
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