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Macclesfield, Knutsford & Warrington Railway


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One of the railway schemes that the Overend and Gurney crash did away with was the Macclesfield, Knutsford & Warrington Railway. It was to link the three cities in its title, but it failed to raise the capital needed, had to request an extension and do away with the Knutsford-Warrington section. Finally in 1873 it was sold to the MS&LR, and quietly died.

 

I've become interested in modelling this line in the 1900s-10s period. The Cheshire Lines and the NSR were to have running powers over the line, which are two of my favorite lines. What would the most common traffic have been on the line?

 

Was there to be a junction with the Manchester-Crewe line? It would be nice to have the LNWR put in an appearance.

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The line wouldn’t have a strong traffic logic, none of the three towns are ‘cities’ even today. Dyestuffs from Warrington to Macclesfield silkworks , coal, salt, agriculture, cattle traffic. I grew up in the area. 
 

Dava

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3 minutes ago, Dava said:

The line wouldn’t have a strong traffic logic, none of the three towns are ‘cities’ even today. Dyestuffs from Warrington to Macclesfield silkworks , coal, salt, agriculture, cattle traffic. I grew up in the area. 
 

Dava

Beer coming up from Burton seems rather likely, it would be the most direct route to the Mersey.

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1 minute ago, GWRSwindon said:

Beer coming up from Burton seems rather likely, it would be the most direct route to the Mersey.

Maybe, plenty of local brewers but exports possible.

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Just a few thoughts, but Macclesfield was the original home of 'Hovis' bread - does that give any inspiration for traffic? Great opportunity for some bogus but plausible private owner liveries?

 

More significantly, there were and are extensive sand quarries around Chelford and environs. The current products and uses are silica sand primarily for float glass, and the Gawsworth sand for construction, horticulture, sports surfaces and the like. Of course back in your timescale the float glass process hadn't been invented, and cinders were good enough for sports grounds, but I imagine you might justify sand going both up towards St Helens (Pilkingtons etc) and perhaps the other way down towards whoever made bottles for the Burton brewers.

 

Thinking of beer (as you do) I believe Bass was shipped all over the country in the cask, to be bottled by local 'franchisees'. I imagine ships out of the Mersey would have taken a lot, both as exports and to be consumed on board. After all, that's how we got India Pale Ale, isn't it.

 

Dava mentions dyestuffs - perhaps traffic not only to the silk industry in Macc, but also to textile industries in Derby, Nottingham (silk and lace I think) via the NSR and GN, and perhaps Leicester (especially hosiery, I seem to remember). Dyestuffs, and indeed silk, are relatively small volume, high value goods - well nick-able. I wonder what rolling stock would be appropriate, and what class of train, to meet security considerations?

 

Quarrying in the hills above Macc, at Kerridge (flagstones) etc, might have fed in, if the line you are thinking of had ended up like the proposed extension of the LDEC (Chesterfield - Buxton - Macc and onwards) which has been discussed somewhere on here. I think there were several different schemes over the years for a line in the broadly Macc to Warrington direction. It's still quite difficult to get across Cheshire South East to North West, even by road. If your line does extend east from Macc up into the hills, I suppose you postulate an interchange with the Macclesfield Canal, which I think ended up being owned by the MSLR/GC - at any rate there was a 'Great Central' wharf just north of the Hovis Mill. (The canal is half way up the hillside in Macc, whereas the railway is in the valley bottom, but that didn't worry Victorian railway promoters, so it shouldn't worry you. It does strike me, though, that railway speculators had their own special interpretation of 'Rule 1'!).

 

Also, the North Staffs and the Great Northern were quite cosy and the GN was involved in the CLC - : might part of your line have offered an alternative to the Midland route for traffic from Nottingham and environs to the big GN warehouse on Deansgate (Manchester). 

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Sorry, got interrupted there. Just a couple of other thoughts.

 

Your railway must cross, and therefore could have some interchange with, the Manchester Ship Canal. Does that suggest any traffic? Especially giving Derby/Leicester/Nottingham better/alternative access to the Atlantic trade. And also, the LNWR was necessarily on good terms with the North Staffs (end on junction at Macclesfield) and your line might give the LNWR enhanced access to the aforementioned East Midlands cities. (For example, Scottish traffic off the WCML bound for the East Midlands without having to fight through the congestion in the Manchester area. And if your line is built in the 1870s it would be in direct competition with the new Settle-Carlisle for East Midlands- Scotland traffic. So anything to/from the East Midlands via the S&C could equally plausibly use your route?

 

Now of course in real life the Midland (who would lose out in the scheme I've suggested above) was actually a partner in the CLC, while the LNWR had no reason to like the Cheshire Lines at all at all (although it was OK with the NSR). But if your line had actually been built, the politics might have evolved differently and we are back with Rule 1!

 

Final thought - some sort of NW-SE route across Cheshire really should have been built, and if it had been I suspect the industrial geography of Cheshire would have developed in a different way. (Also, all those overpaid Premier League footballers in the 'golden triangle' would have a railway line at the bottom of their infinity pools - tee-hee!)

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In fact several minor railways had been authorised in the past: in most cases their powers had long since lapsed, but the routes had been surveyed and were therefore presumably practicable. As well as the Newark and Ollerton Railway, there were two currently authorised schemes, the Macclesfield and Warrington Railway and the Lincoln and East Coast Railway.

 

From this article (Conception)

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancashire,_Derbyshire_and_East_Coast_Railway

 

Also, LDEC Book review

 

https://www.blurb.co.uk/b/4280589-the-lancashire-derbyshire-east-coast-railway

 

The Lancashire Derbyshire & East Coast Railway was built to fulfill the desire of tapping the rich coalfields in the East Midlands; the plan being to construct an 170 mile long railway from a deep-water dock on the Manchester Ship Canal at Warrington, to new docks on the Lincolnshire coast at Sutton-on-Sea, thus allowing an outlet on either coast for the export of coal. As time was to prove, this ambitious plan would be whittled down to the the central section from Chesterfield to Pyewipe Junction near Lincoln and a branch from Langwith Junction to Beighton, thus allowing the company access to Sheffield via the Sheffield District Railway. The remaining sections would never be built and gradually sections would succumb to closure. Although the route would have a passenger service that lasted in parts until 1955, it would always primarily be known for the movement of coal. Take a pictorial journey along the LD&ECR over the decades, to see what was, and what now remains of the line, that became known as "The Dukeries Route"
 

So there nearly was a railway linking the towns

 

Brit15

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There was also to be a junction with the as-then planned Manchester South District Railway (MSDR) at Alderley Edge to and from the Macclesfield direction . This would have gone north via Styal, Northenden and Didsbury before joining the as built portion of the MSDR in the vicinity of Withington and West Didsbury station, providing an alternative route to Manchester. Another ‘might have been’...

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On 23/10/2020 at 02:07, Jim76 said:

There was also to be a junction with the as-then planned Manchester South District Railway (MSDR) at Alderley Edge to and from the Macclesfield direction . This would have gone north via Styal, Northenden and Didsbury before joining the as built portion of the MSDR in the vicinity of Withington and West Didsbury station, providing an alternative route to Manchester. Another ‘might have been’...

In that case, I don't think the Midland would protest too strongly to the MK&WR, as now they have a more direct link from Manchester to the Potteries. The LNWR's objection is the thing that you have to just ignore. I'd like to include a junction with the Manchester-Birmingham line at Alderley to add some interest, even though it certainly wouldn't have happened.

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It strikes me that the M.K&W would have been much more useful to the NSR than anyone else. I have always wondered what prospects the MS&L saw in it. Macclesfield was right at the end of its (joint) branch from Marple - it would be crazy to route Knutsford or Warrington traffic that way. Or at a minimum, very circuitous. 

 

The MS&L/GC got behind some fairly ambitious schemes, most of which came to nothing, but I have never seen the logic behind this one at all. At least not from their POV.

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11 hours ago, Poggy1165 said:

It strikes me that the M.K&W would have been much more useful to the NSR than anyone else. I have always wondered what prospects the MS&L saw in it. Macclesfield was right at the end of its (joint) branch from Marple - it would be crazy to route Knutsford or Warrington traffic that way. Or at a minimum, very circuitous. 

 

The MS&L/GC got behind some fairly ambitious schemes, most of which came to nothing, but I have never seen the logic behind this one at all. At least not from their POV.

I suppose the hope was for traffic originating at Liverpool/Warrington headed for the Potteries and points further south. Whether that would have materialized, I'm not sure.

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