Tuesday, 27 November 2012



(this update also appeared in the MCRUA Newsletter and on MCRUA's Chairman's Blog)

The Middlewich Rail Link Campaign is continuing its efforts to promote the re-opening of the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich line to regular passenger trains, along with the building of a new station in Middlewich.

Congleton MP Fiona Bruce is preparing to present the campaign’s petition in Parliament.

Sterling work by campaign members saw to it that close on 2000 signatures were obtained as people in Middlewich and surrounding areas showed their support for an idea which will go some way towards sorting out the town’s horrendous traffic problems and also mean that this Cheshire town, which is often cited as a ‘typical commuter town’ gets a much-needed facility to allow the large number of townspeople who work in Manchester to get to work without having to use their cars.

An added bonus, of course, to re-opening the Middlewich line would be improved access to Crewe for everyone using the Mid Cheshire line.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to Councillors Parsons, Edwards and Hirst for all their hard work on the petition, and to Harry Boardman for his continuing efforts on the campaign’s behalf.

The Middlewich line proved its worth yet again during the flooding which affected much of the country this Autumn, with diverted Virgin trains using the line after flooding put the Crewe-Chester line out of action at Christleton.

The question many are asking is this: where would these diverted trains go if the Middlewich line was not there?

Dave Roberts

Monday, 1 October 2012


The official handover of MRLC's petition calling for a passenger train service and a new station for Middlewich took place on Saturday September 22nd in the Bull Ring, Middlewich.
Middlewich's MP Fiona Bruce is seen accepting the petition from Cllr Mike Parsons.
Also in the photograph are (left to right): Cllr Paul Edwards, Cllr Sonya Edwards, Town Mayor Cllr Simon McGrory, Cllr Keith Bagnall Cllr Andrew Malloy (Knutsford) and Deputy Town Mayor, Cllr Bernice Walmsley.
The fact that Sonya and Bernice are 'in uniform' is explained by the fact that the handover took place during Middlewich's second Wartime Weekend, as can be seen from the banner in the background.
The petition will enable Fiona to raise the matter of the Middlewich line in Parliament, and MRLC would like to record its appreciation of all the hard work put in by everyone who helped obtain the signatures, and in particular to Cllr Peter Hirst.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012


(ARCHIVED 25/09/2012)

Councillor Mike Parsons writes:

Hello all,

Just to let you know that the Petition we raised to reopen the Middlewich branch line to passenger traffic and provide a station at Middlewich is now complete. We have raised the target of 2,000 signatures (bar a few!!) and it is my pleasure to invite you all to the official handover next Saturday (22nd. Sep.), at 10.30 am. in the Bull Ring.

Fiona Bruce MP has kindly offered to come along and formally receive the Petition in front of the press and I would like to see as many of the local traders and residents who have been involved with this present for the photograph. If you could, therefore, please pass this message on to anyone you know who  has helped to promote the campaign (it is impossible for me to know who they all are), I would be most grateful, as I would hate anyone to be left out.

So come along and bring as many with you as you can.  We need a real good show of unity and strength for Fiona to take to Westminster and me to take to the meetings I have managed to get organised with Cheshire East Officers. We've won the fight to beat off the Incinerator; now let's go out and win the fight for our station!

See you Saturday.



Thursday, 30 August 2012


The Knutsford Guardian recently carried a report explaining why Knutsford Town Councillor Andrew Malloy was urging residents of Knutsford to sign MRLC's petition calling for the re-opening of a station in Middlewich, and the introduction of a passenger service on the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich line:

'A KNUTSFORD councillor is backing a neighbouring town’s campaign to reopen a railway line that has been closed to passengers for more than half a century.
Clr Andrew Malloy believes the plans to upgrade the Northwich to Sandbach line would improve rail services in Knutsford.
The Thorneyholme Drive resident is encouraging Guardian readers to sign a petition which will be presented to Parliament by Fiona Bruce MP in the autumn....'

(excerpt reproduced with permission)
To read the rest of the report, please follow this link:

Councillor Malloy has, of course, correctly identified another advantage of re-opening the Middlewich line to passenger trains - the opportunity for passengers living in Knutsford and other stations on the Mid-Cheshire line East of Northwich to travel direct to Crewe (and thus to destinations all over the country) without first having to journey into Stockport or Manchester and change trains (their only other even vaguely realistic current option being a lengthy journey to Chester and a change of train there for Crewe).

This photograph was taken at the July meeting of the MRLC committee and shows:
(left to right) Fiona Bruce MP, Harry Boardman, Stephen Dent, Wayne Jones, Cllr Mike Parsons and
Cllr Peter Hirst with the petition which will help Fiona raise the matter of the Middlewich line in Parliament.

Friday, 24 August 2012


The Middlewich Guardian of August 15th 2012 carried this story on the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign:

Here's the full text of the article, reproduced with permission:


by David Morgan

FIONA Bruce MP has said that reopening Middlewich’s railway station is her priority for the town.
Campaigners have now collected more than 1,600 signatures in a petition urging for the Northwich to Sandbach line to be upgraded for passengers.
Fiona has agreed to present the petition to Parliament in the autumn.
She said: “This is a tremendous number of signatures which shows the strength of support for the reopening of Middlewich Station to passengers among local people.
“I pay tribute to the retailers of Middlewich in particular who have worked so hard to obtain this number of signatures in a relatively short period.
“This will enable me apply to the Speaker of the House of Commons to present this petition to Parliament in the autumn and it would be wonderful if we could reach the target number of 2,000 signatures by then.”
Reopening the line through Middlewich would cost around £2million and a feasibility study released in July 2009 revealed that the benefit would be five times greater than the price.
Cheshire East Council has recently been awarded £3.5million from the Government for its local sustainable transport fund Middlewich Rail Link Campaign members are hoping that a portion of that money can go towards the project.
Clr Mike Parsons, ward member for Middlewich, has requested a meeting with cabinet members Clr Rod Menlove and Clr Jamie Macrae.
Harry Boardman, a member of the Rail Link Campaign, added “There are substantial benefits to the region as a whole from opening this line.
“It would provide cross county connectivity unseen by Cheshire for more than half a century.”
Cheshire East Council had not commented as the Guardian went to press.
Middlewich Rail Link Campaign's petition is available to sign at the library, the Victoria Buildings and various shops in Wheelock Street.

Facebook feedback:

Chris Koons:
This is SUCH an important issue for Middlewich & the surrounding area... If I could nip back over from Kansas to go in and sign the petition myself, I certainly would. If you are still in the area or even pass through Middlewich sometimes, this is your chance to make your voice heard!
PLEASE take just a minute to stop in at one of the petition stations (Middlewich Library, the Victoria Buildings aka the rates office, or various Wheelock St shops) and sign it. Or if, like me, you're too far away to sign it yourself, please pass this along to your family and friends who are still there.
Wouldn't it be absolutely fantastic if it has the support of everyone in Middlewich?
What a great and convincing thing that would be for Fiona Bruce to take to Parliament in the autumn!

Donna Parkinson:
We in our house have a feeling that the Middlewich line is being used for 'un-p.c.' reasons at the moment. Movements in the night, helicopters flying around. What is it actually used for at the moment?

Dave Roberts:
As far as I (personally) know, it's used for normal railway purposes - i.e. for diversions (particularly when the Crewe-Chester line is closed), empty passenger stock movements and freight as and when required. The line always did carry trains throughout the night (most lines do, in fact).

Thursday, 16 August 2012


This picture, originally published in the Middlewich Diary, shows the King Street railway bridge as it was in 1975, just after it had been damaged by a lorry which destroyed one of its parapets.
The full story is told here.

Incidentally, the stretch of track seen in this picture is the same one shown here.

Monday, 13 August 2012


The town of Ilkeston, Derbyshire, has similar aspirations to those of  Middlewich
by Dave Roberts
Here's a link to a story from BBC Derby in which the town of Ilkeston in Derbyshire, which has the dubious distinction of being the largest town in the country without a railway station, sets out its stall and identifies another possible source of  funding for new local stations.
This is further welcome proof that, at long last, government is recognising the need for local communities to be reconnected to the railway network.
Ilkeston's case is very similar to ours. In fact it's a story, which can be repeated all over the country, of small towns which have grown considerably over the last few decades to house scores of would-be commuters who find themselves without train services to get them to and from work and have had to resort to their cars, creating appalling road congestion.
In Ilkeston as in Middlewich, a new railway station is an idea whose time has come.


Saturday, 11 August 2012


Passengers on a UK Railtours' special excursion train were treated to the sight of Middlewich in the summer sunshine on the morning of the 11th August 2012, as the train made its way from Basingstoke to Buxton.
Neil Cundliffe was out and about with his camera and was able to get these excellent shots of the train as it negotiated the Middlewich Loop. They are reproduced here with his permission.

Here's the train on the loop line at Middlewich, just passing the colour light signal which would have stopped it there in the event of another train coming from the Northwich direction. At this point the lines though Middlewich are designated 'UP' and 'DOWN' in the traditional fashion. The UP line is the one on the left, heading in the direction of Sandbach, Crewe and, ultimately, London. While everyone else goes 'down' to London, trains always go 'up' to London. Notice how shiny the rails are; always evidence that the line is being put to good use. Compare Neil's shot with this one taken four years earlier

Here the train is leaving the Middlewich Loop and heading for Northwich, where it will leave the branch line  and head East along the Mid-Cheshire line to Altrincham, Manchester, then via Hazel Grove, New Mills Central and Chinley to its ultimate destination in classic limestone territory at Buxton. This train was 'topped and tailed' - i.e. it had a locomotive at either end (in this case nos 66213 and 66153), making for ease of operation - when it was time for the train to make its way back home, all the driver had to do was walk from one end of the train to the other. Evidence that the train is moving away from the camera in this photograph is provided by the red lamp on the locomotive. Like motor vehicles trains always carry white lights at the front and red ones at the rear. And a train would never enter the loop from this direction.

Neil's dubbed this photo 'Up Close and Personal at Whatcroft' and its easy to see why. Here the train is making its way through the picturesque scenery of Whatcroft, just before running through the outskirts of Northwich to join the Mid-Cheshire line at Rudheath.

For the record, the train started from Basingstoke at 5.49am, reached Crewe at 11am, Middlewich at around 11.25am (or, according to DB Schenker's running information, at precisely 26½  minutes past 11), Northwich at 11.45am and Buxton at 1.58pm.
It was due to leave Buxton at 4.50pm and arrive back at Basingstoke at 11.39pm.
The journey back was by a slightly different route, and passengers were not treated to the experience of Middlewich by Night.

Facebook Feedback:

Jenny Hatton: In over thirty years I have never ever seen a train on that line - I thought it was shut!

Diane Russell: There are trains using this line every day. Mostly goods trains, but there is sometimes a Virgin passenger train, if it gets diverted.

Jenny Hatton: I may have to take some sandwiches and camp out next to it - seeing is believing!

Diane Russell: I live about fifty yards away from it, so I can see them from my kitchen window.

Dave Roberts: The shiny rails are evidence that the line's being used quite frequently at the moment. Neil, who took the photos, tells me he lives close to the line and frequently hears trains rumbling through, particularly at night.

Bill Armsden: On a quiet night with the bedroom windows open and a breeze in the right direction, I can hear trains rumbling along the track.

Diane Russell: You can more or less set your clock by them, Dave. One about 5pm most days, and then again between 10 and 11pm, and just lately there have been quite a few during the night. I have got used to them now, and it's quite nice hearing them going past, even in the night.

Dave Roberts: It brings back memories for me. When I was young and lived across the road in King Street I'd often hear trains running in the night - steam trains from 1959 to 1968 and then diesels. I sometimes hear trains in the night now, but they're mostly on the West Coast Main Line, which isn't too far away.

Friday, 10 August 2012


There was a forty year gap from 1968 to 2008 between steam hauled trains on the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich line.
The Middlewich Diary tells the story:

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


The Salt Siding in 1969 ( the track nearest the camera). The points are for additional sidings used to store salt and chemical trucks when Middlewich Station Yard was full. The black inverted 'v' shape to the left is the canopy over the loading bay at Seddon's Salt Works (run jointly with Simpson's, the salt packing and merchandising firm which shared the premises). The connection which can just be seen beneath this went off to serve Murgatroyd's Salt Works and the old Brunner Mond/ICI alkali works. Beyond the bridge just visible in the far distance is the site of Middlewich Station.

Although the line between Sandbach and Middlewich looks as though it might, at one time, have been double-tracked, appearances are deceptive.
There is double track, electrified for part of its length, at the Sandbach end of the line which once served Murgatroyd's Chemical works at Tetton (latterly Brenntag and now largely demolished) but the 'second line' seen here is actually a long siding, installed in the early 20th century, which once ran from Middlewich Station all the way to Tetton to serve the Middlewich Salt Company's works (later to become Cerebos Salt), with connections to other works, as noted above.
British Salt Ltd, which opened in 1969 next to the Cerebos works is still served by a rail connection from the.Sandbach direction, although this is currently not being used.
The legacy left by the now lifted Salt Siding - i.e. the wide formation between Sandbach and Middlewich - gives us the tantalising possibility of a double track railway between the two towns one day, should traffic demand it.
Our sister site, the Middlewich Diary, carried a couple of articles on the Salt Siding last year:


Monday, 6 August 2012


Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association

John Oates, Chairman of the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association, sees   'strong economic benefits for Mid-Cheshire' along with the obvious benefits for Middlewich and for travellers from stations on the Mid-Cheshire line, particularly those living East of Northwich who will, for the first time in sixty years, be able to take advantage of direct journeys via Middlewich and Sandbach to Crewe, giving them the opportunity to use the West Coast Main Line without having to travel via Stockport or Chester or use their cars.
Here's a link to the relevant section of the 'Chairman's Blog' on the MCRUA site.
John would be particularly interested in comments from the Middlewich and Northwich areas, so please post your comments directly onto the MCRUA site (the method for posting comments on the association's site is somewhat easier than the slightly ponderous one imposed on us by Blogger).

Sunday, 5 August 2012



If the yellow 'comments' box is not already visible after a posting, click on the word(s) 'comments' or 'No comments' in blue (there will be a number in front of it if there have been previous comments). Click on this and enter your comment in the box. On the drop down list below marked 'Comment as: Select profile' select 'Name/URL' and type your name in the top box (you do not need to enter anything in the other box). Then click on 'continue' and then 'publish'. You should get a message saying 'your comment will be visible after approval'.
All comments are moderated to prevent spam.
We have tried to make it as easy as possible to add comments, and this is as easy as Blogger allows us to make it.
You can also add comments on our Middlewich Rail Link Campaign Facebook Group and on any of the other groups to which we post links

Saturday, 4 August 2012

ON THE MIDDLEWICH BRANCH 2003 with Charlie Hulme

The remains of the  up platform at the original Middlewich Station in 2003. The signal box stood where the grey radio frequency sign is in the middle of the photograph. A new colour light signal now occupies the same position. 
Charlie Hulme runs the excellent and highly regarded North Wales Coast Railway website. The Middlewich branch has close connections with the North Wales Coast route because it is  used by diverted London-Holyhead trains when engineering work makes the Crewe-Chester line unavailable.
In 2003 Charlie took a trip on one of these diverted trains and published a very interesting report, which our sister site, The Middlewich Diary, provided a link to, together with a direct link to the North Wales Coast Railway site itself.
There have been many changes since Charlie travelled along our line. The route has been completely resignalled,  many sections have been relayed with new track (including the 'old station' section as shown in Charlie's photo, above) and Albion Chemicals (formerly Murgatroyd's, BP, and Hays Chemicals, later Brenntag) has been largely demolished.
That little diesel shunter, though, as can be seen from the Middlewich Diary entry, survives in preservation and can now be found shunting passenger coaches in Swanage...



Our picture shows the 'Limestone Cowboy' special train on the Middlewich Branch line, passing the site of the original Middlewich Station on August 25th 2011. Photo: Vernon Perkins/Middlewich Rail Link Campaign

by Robin Lord 
At a meeting of the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign on Tuesday 31st July Councillor Mike Parsons announced
that we have now collected over 1600 signatures for the petition asking that the Northwich to
Sandbach line be re-opened along with a station in Middlewich.
Fiona Bruce MP for Congleton said “ that would be enough signatures to present the petition to
Parliament, but  as Parliament is now in recess it would do no harm to collect more signatures in
the period before Parliament returns in September.
“I have been in touch with Michael Jones Leader of the Cheshire East council and told him that the
station in Middlewich is my priority for the area. Mike has been with me on a visit to Middlewich”
A big thank you from Councillor Peter Hirst is due to the retailers in Wheelock St who between
them have collected about two thirds of the total so far collected. Mike Parsons Cheshire East
Councillor for Middlewich Ward said “We will invite the Wheelock St. retailers to come and meet
Fiona Bruce when we present her with the petition.”
Mike also said “Cheshire East Council has been granted £3.5M by the government from the Local
Sustainable Transport Fund and I have written to Rod Menlove and Jamie Macrae, Cheshire East
cabinet members, to request a meeting to discuss using some of that money for the Middlewich Rail
Harry Boardman a member of the committee added “There is also £100M allocated by government
to station improvements and a further £100M for 'transport for all' in the plans for 2014/19 and we
will try to get a share of that money as neither Sandbach nor Northwich have facilities for the
disabled, Amazingly it is not yet compulsory to provide such access to stations”.
“There are substantial benefits to the region as a whole from opening this line, it would make it
much easier for Knutsford residents to get to Crewe thereby taking a load off Manchester Picadilly
and it would provide cross county connectivity unseen by Cheshire for more than half a century.”
There is plenty of time left for Middlewich residents or others with an interest to sign the petition,
forms are availble in the library, the council offices and many of the shops in Wheelock St. the more
we get the sooner we are likely to succeed".

Friday, 3 August 2012


Photo supplied by The Middlewich Guardian
(First published in the Middlewich Guardian 25th July 2011. Reproduced with permission)

by Katie Durose

CELEBRITY record producer and rail enthusiat Pete Waterman has become the new patron of a campaign to re-open Middlewich railway station.

MP Fiona Bruce has been working closely with the Middlewich Rail Link Campain (MRLC) since Cheshire East Council announced in October 2010 that it was 'not a priority' for funding.

Pete was invited to a debate in the House of Commons to discuss how he could help the project.

Vernon Perkins*, secretary of the MRLC, said, 'we are lucky to have living on our doorstep the most recognisable media personality on the subject of trains.

'Then there is the wealth of industry knowledge that Pete possesses.

'We know he owns locomotives, but also built up the Crewe-based maintenance company, LNWR.

'I am sure that Pete can help us talk to the right people - the likes of  Network Rail, the Department for Transport and Northern Rail.'

Middlewich lost its passenger train service in 1960, but the campaign group are hoping to reopen the service
between Sandbach and Northwich via Middlewich.

The costs of reopening the line would be around £2m, but according to a feasibility study released in July 2009, the benefit would be five times greater than the price.

MP Fiona Bruce says, 'Pete Waterman is the ideal patron for the campaign - not only for his huge enthusiasm and knowhow of trains, but aslso as the appointed chairman of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, which is determined to put this region firmly on the map in terms of investment and opportunities.'

Talking to Fiona at the House of Commons, Pete said, 'I am very pleased to become the campaign's patron and am looking at how I can provide support'.

* Since this article was first published, Vernon Perkins has left the campaign.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


Middlewich Station in 1989

Welcome to Middlewichstation.co.uk, the new website for the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign, which has been putting forward the case for a passenger train service for Middlewich for twenty years now,
That case has been proven time and time again, and our task now is to see to it that the powers that be act on the information which MRLC and the Middlewich Railway Steering Group have accumulated with the help of  highly respected railway consultants over the years.
The name of this site has been carefully chosen so that when our aims are achieved and Middlewich once more has a railway station and a passenger train service connecting it to the rest of the railway network (and
thus to the rest of the country) the site can, without having to change its name, become the official site of The
Friends of Middlewich Station (or whatever the support group for the station decides to call itself once the
station is up and running).
That journey from campaigning group to friends of a thriving and well-used railway station begins now, and we hope you'll want to come along for the ride.
Information on the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich railway and its past, present and future, will be added  to this site as the days, weeks, months and years go by.
To start with, here are some links to articles about Middlewich Station in years gone by on our sister site
The Middlewich Diary:


(follow the links on the Middlewich Diary to other local railway related articles)

Here's a link to the 'Projects' page on the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association website, which has further
links to documents relating to the Middlewich line re-opening proposals, including the consultants' report (pdf document)


(Editor's note: As this site is brand new, you will appreciate that we are still experimenting with the formatting
and layout, with the object of making the site easy to read and navigate. Please bear with us until things settle down. Thank you!)