Nantwich was the nearest to Manchester that the Great Western Railway ever succeeded in building a line, and they had to rely on running rights over the London & North Western Railway from Nantwich through Crewe to Stockport and Manchester for their Paddington to Manchester London Road expresses. The branch line from Wellington (Salop) to Market Drayton and Nantwich thus also formed part of the Great Western's main line to Manchester. There was also a connection at Market Drayton with the North Staffordshire Railway's line to Stoke-on-Trent, but though the GWR and NSR had mutual running rights between Wellington and Stoke, neither company seemed interested in exercising them in a meaningful way.
The line from Wellington to Nantwich was built as two separate lines. The 15 mile 40 chain Wellington & Market Drayton Railway was incorporated under an Act of 7 August 1862 and opened on 16 October 1867. The 10 mile 60 chain Nantwich & Market Drayton Railway was incorporated under an Act of 7 June 1861 and opened on 19 October 1863. Both lines closed to passenger traffic under the Beeching Axe on 9 September 1963 and to goods traffic in 1967, after which the track was removed. The lines made use of the GWR/LNWR joint station at Wellington and the LNWR station at Nantwich. Admaston was on both the Market Drayton branch and the main Wellington to Shrewsbury line, but there was no station on the main line.