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The Wellington – Market Drayton – Nantwich Branch Line

These photographs below are by Geoff Fletcher who lived at Peplow until he left the area in 1963. Geoff revisited the site of Hodnet Station many times after it closed to passengers to photograph different phases of its gradual decline and eventual oblivion. The last time he visited, the trees and vegetation had grown up so much on the station side of the bridge that no comparison photos were possible.

Geoff writes: “The Wellington – Market Drayton – Nantwich branch line began life on 7 June 1861 when Parliament approved the Nantwich and Market Drayton Railway. A year later on 7 August 1862 the Wellington and Drayton Railway was incorporated, both companies being GWR supported. The 11 mile stretch from Nantwich to Market Drayton was opened first on 20 October 1863, and four years later on 16 October 1867 the Market Drayton to Wellington section of just over 16 miles was completed. Thus, Hodnet and Peplow stations dated from that time. The line lasted almost exactly 100 years. It was closed to passenger services on 9 September 1963, and fully closed four years later in 1967, a victim of Dr Beeching’s short-sighted policies. The lifting of the track was completed in 1970, killing the line forever. My father was the signalman at Peplow box and subsequently at Hodnet box in the 1940’s, and I was brought up with the railway as a constant companion – hence my interest and regret at its demise.”

Six photos of Hodnet station taken on 25 March 1967 around the time of the cessation of goods through traffic. Most of the main track layout is still in situ apart from some short lengths of sidings, as are the buildings and signals etc. The platform edges have been lifted, the station and goods shed are derelict and vegetation is taking over.

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Three photos dating from early 1975. By then the station building has been gutted by fire, the tracks lifted and long gone.

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Geoff also provided this image of a section from an 1898 map which shows the station layout and some other interesting details such as the Workhouse and Auction Market, plus at least four pumps. The box was on the up line side towards Peplow (Wellington to Drayton – Down Line / Drayton to Wellington – Up Line).

Hodnet Station Map 1898

Please note: all the above photographs are copyright Geoff Fletcher who has kindly made them available to the Hodnet website. Anyone who wishes to use any of them for any purpose should contact Geoff direct – email.

Images of the railway in action can be found on the following pages: