John Speller's Web Pages Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Company

John Speller's Web Pages - L&NWR
Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Company
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The Shropshire Unions Railways & Canals Company had its roots in the eighteenth century and began as an amalgamation of several canals in Warwickshire, Cheshire and Shropshire in 1846. The newly formed company determined to convert all its canals into railways but suffered from a lack of funds for doing this and was leased to the London & North Western Railway in 1847 on the understanding that this company would complete the work. The canal between Wellington and Stafford was indeed converted to a railway, and so was the canal between Wellington and Shrewsbury, under the joint auspices of the L&NWR and Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway (later part of the the Great Western Railway). The L&NWR also built the Coalport branch over part of the former canal system, but neglected to do anything with the Middlewich branch, which might have formed a useful link to Britain's main salt-producing neighborhood. For the rest, however, the main object of the L&NWR proved to be to keep the Great Western Railway out of their territory. The Chairman of the Shropshire Union Company, the Earl of Powys, realizing too late the detrimental effects of this policy upon the Shropshire Union's shares, commented at the General Meeting of 1862 that the London & North Western Railway had "a morbid passion for unpopularity." However unscrupulous their behavior might have been, nonetheless, it was certainly a successful policy, and the L&NWR effectively managed to prevent the GWR from getting a direct line from Wolverhampton to Chester and Birkenhead, which might easily have been built over the canal. For this reason the L&NWR continued working the Shropshire Union Canal long after most other canals had been abandoned, and the LMS did not finally abandon the Shropshire Union Canal until during World War II in 1944. This might have proved to be a strategic mistake had not the railways been nationalized in 1948.
Map of the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal
Shrewsbury Station. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
The Shropshire Union Canal at Market Drayton. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Postcard of around 1914 showing Gnosall Station on the L&NWR's Wellington to Stafford line
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