Following on from the initial announcement at the start of the year, the Churnet Valley Railway’s supporting body the “North Staffordshire Railway Company (Ltd) 1978” have kindly provided an update to show the amount of work that has been completed so far in 2015.
The first two projects talked off form part of the Heritage Lottery Funded “Living Landscape Partnershp” and includes the repairs to the landslip South of Cheddleton station, where a UK first is being trialed in collaboration with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, with the use of Willow Spiling planted in an Engineered Log Jam on a railway embankment. Such style repairs have previously been completed on various roads, predominantly in Scotland, but this is the first known occasion that such a repair has been attempted on a railway embankment.
"The engineered log jam is substantially complete now, and the first pieces of willow have been planted with further willow to be planted in the winter. The opposite riverbank requires sloping back, which is envisaged to happen sometime in the Autumn. The work was designed and supervised by Nick Mott, Senior Ecologist of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, one of the many partners in the "Churnet Valley Living Landscapes Partnership" of which this project is being completed under by the NSRC.
Further work needs to be done to improve the drainage of the railway at this point in-time though in order to consolidate the ground and prevent further slippage. Both the CVR & NSRC are currently drawing up plans and making grant applications to enable this to happen as soon as possible. Once complete the situation will then be monitored for 6-12 months, before rebuilding the embankment behind the log jam to the height and strength required to reinstate the former Down Main line into Platform 2.
The contractors were Moorlands Specialist Excavations of Cheddleton. The bulk of the wood used in building the log jam came from the Scott-Moncrieff estate of Basford Hall and from "Pointon and Sons" who also contributed towards the cost of the project. Large trunks complete with root balls have been placed alongside the riverbank, and vertical trunks have been pushed into the river bed to anchor the log jam in place until such time as it consolidates naturally with soil and vegetation; effectively forming a new riverbank further away from the railway. Some trees from CVR car park were also used and this has enabled the railway to clear the boundary of the car park and make available space for the construction of the water tank base to supply the water column currently being refurbished for use on Platform 2 at Cheddleton (another CVLLP/HLF project). This is an excellent example of partnership working not just within the CVLLP but also outside, with the railways' neighbours. The hedge which moved towards the river when the embankment slipped will be layed later this year/early next year by a working party from CVLLP's Boundaries project, another one of the 28 projects supported by HLF and managed by the CVLLP.”
"Elsewhere other parts of the Cheddleton Heritage project continue apace. The most visible is the completion of the roadside fence and cycle route alongside the railway on Station Road and Basford Bridge Lane, connecting the Potteries to the Peak District through the “Pedal to the Peak” project utilising the newly upgraded canal towpath alongside the Caldon Canal from Etruria to Cheddleton.
This has been made possible by the use of regional and national development funds through the CVLLP, Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Moorlands Patnership, Cheddleton Parish Council, Cheddleton Cautionary Lands Trust, The Ironmongers Company of London, Peak District National Park Authority and Heritage Lottery Fund. Cycle racks have been purchased for all 3 railway stations along with pumps destined for Cheddleton and Consall stations and an additional repair station at Froghall. With the provision of high quality bike-locks at each station it is hoped to encourage more cyclists to use the train to see parts of the valley other wise inaccessible to them.
With all these projects now slowly coming to fruition, it is hoped to soon make a start on the previously announced forge building that is to be constructed to house the recently acquired Massey Open Reach Hammer, and the previously donated forge from Thomas Boltons."
We are grateful to NSRC Chairman Pete Green for providing such a comprehensive update of the numerous projects ongoing at present, and look forward to hearing of further updates later in the year. A selection of pictures are available for viewing on the Churnet Valley Official Facebook Page, and the dedicated Volunteer Page that showcases the efforts of all the volunteers throughout the various departments. If you wish to join in any of these working parties then please feel free to get in touch.