2023.10.02 Stafford Common Branch

Until I started researching Stafford for this one, I'd never heard of Stafford Common. The Stafford Common branch was all that remained of the former Great Northern branch from Stafford to Uttoxeter, offering a through connection to the Great Northern system at Derby. The line closed beyond Stafford Common in 1951, though an RCTS last train ran to Uttoxeter and back in 1957.

The main reason for keeping the branch open, apart from some local goods traffic, was the existence of a major RAF maintenance depot a mile or so beyond Stafford Common station and yard. Documentation of the branch in the late 'fifties is rather confusing: the WTT refers to Stafford Common, the signal box diagram just shows what appear to be two dead end sidings, and the Sectional Appendix refers only to the Air Ministry Sidings.

By 1958 the branch consisted of a short double track section, worked as up and down sidings under the control of No. 5 signal box, and ending at Venables Ground Frame. It is not clear exactly where this was, or what the track layout was there. From there the branch to Stafford Common and beyond was worked by one engine in steam. There were two sidings served directly from Venables, one for the Venables timber yard and one for the Lilleshall coal company.

A little further on there was a junction with a short branch serving goods sidings in the town: a small yard at Doxey Road, and another serving the gas works and associated sidings.

Stafford Common is of interest as a centre of the salt industry. with no less that three salt works, each having its own private sidings. It is clear that the line was singled beyond Venables Ground Frame, but it is not clear what track remained at Stafford Common. Photos suggest that the sidings and works access remained unchanged.

The WTT tells us that there was still enough traffic to justify two services to Stafford Common SX and one on Saturdays, the first also serving Doxey Road.

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