Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway

Gauge: 2ft 6in (760mm)

The Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway was an 8¼ mile line in Staffordshire, connecting Waterhouses with Hulme End. It acted as a feeder line for traffic from the Manifold Valley to the standard gauge railway at Waterhouses, using transporter wagons to the carry standard gauge wagons. Opened in 1904, it lasted until 1934.

On closure, the route was taken over by Staffordshire County Council and a paved footpath opened in 1937.

The passing of the Light Railways Act in 1896 allowed the building of branch lines in areas were the costs had previously been un-affordable. The Leek, Caldon Low and Hartington Light Railways Order was made in 1898, and the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway was constructed under this order.

The line’s engineer was Everard Calthrop, who also developed narrow gauge railways in India, in particular the Barsi railway which opened a few years earlier. The rolling stock on the Leek and Manifold railway resembled that on the Barsi. Calthrop was keen on the use of transporter wagons for carrying standard gauge wagons, and thus eliminating the need to transship goods. Many of the stations on the line had short lengths of standard gauge track so that wagons could be offloaded, and the transporter wagons used for another load, thereby reducing the number of wagons needed. One of the main traffic flows was milk from Ecton, initially in churns, but in later years in standard gauge tank wagons.

There was a passenger train service, though lightly used owing to the sparsely populated valley. However at holiday times, the valley attracted a large number of tourists, and all items of rolling stock were pressed into service.

Express Dairies closed its Ecton creamery in 1932, removing most of the goods traffic from the line. New motor bus services served the villages which were some distance from the line itself. With the loss of traffic, the railway closed on Monday 10 March 1934.

Number / NameManufacturerTypeNotes
1 E.R. CalthropKitson and Company of 19042-6-4TScrapped 1937
2 J.B. EarleKitson and Company of 19042-6-4TScrapped 1937