Cannock Wood Colliery and Paddy Train – Part 1 B.J.Bull
When the Editor asked me to write an article on the Cannock Wood Paddy Train had no intention of writing what may appear to some to be a history, however scant, of the Cannock & Rugeley Colliery Company, its railways, locos and rolling stock. However, as my knowledge and documentation of the ‘Paddy’ is rather limited, I hope that members will excuse my ‘padding out’ the article with what I hope will be interesting information. The area at Rawnsley where the first shaft was sunk in about 1863 was owned by the Marquis of Anglesey and not surprisingly the first locomotive when it arrived from the Lilleshall Company of Oakengates, Shropshire, was numbered 1 and named ‘Marquis’. The Marquis of Anglesey already had powers to construct a railway from the Cannock Mineral Railway at Hednesford to Cooper’s Lodge, where a section was to strike off almost at a right angle to Heathy Leasons to join the Birmingham Canal Navigations, owned by Littleworth Tramway. This canal had been protected under the Cannock Extension Canal Act of 1854. The canal was completed to Hednesford Basin by the summer of 1862 and it is probable that the tramway was completed about that time. It was probable also that the Littleworth Tramway opened together with the Hednesford to Cooper’s Lodge section, (known as the Cannock Chase Railway), on October 7th, 1862. Both the Cannock Chase Railway and the Littleworth Tramway were constructed by the LNWR. The Marquis sold his undertaking to the LNWR under an agreement dated June 29th, 1861. The arrangement was later sanctioned by the LNWR (Additional Powers) Act of 1863, which empowered the LNWR to agree with the Marquis of Anglesey, (or owner) for the transfer to it of the Cannock Chase Railway, thus the line became the property of the LNWR and later the LMS and finally British Railways until the final closure of the pit in June, 1973. Until 1867 when the first Cannock & Rugeley Co. locomotive arrived, the line was worked by LNWR locos only between Hednesford, the Colliery and Cooper’s Lodge Junction. Between Cooper’s Lodge and the Littleworth Tramway down to Hednesford Canal Basin both the CRC locos and Cannock Chase Colliery Co. locos worked across from Chasetown and Chase Terrace on the Cannock Chase and Wolverhampton Railway, which had an end-on junction with the Cannock Chase Railway at Cooper’s Lodge. No passengers were carried on any of the above mentioned railways and indeed a further line was to be built before passengers were eventually carried on the Cannock Chase Railway. The Littleworth Tramway took the Cannock Chase Railway and the coal from Cannock Wood Pit close to the Norton Branch of the LNWR. The LNWR secured powers under the LNWR Act of 1880 to build a connection from the Littleworth Tramway to the Norton Branch. An agreement was made, (of which the RPS has an office copy), on December 6th, 1880, with the Cannock Chase Colliery Co., under which the Littleworth Extension was built and the Company guaranteed minimum traffic receipts, and worked the line from Littleworth Junction to the connection with the Norton branch. Subsequently the CRC Co. also worked some of their coal traffic through from Rawnsley to Littleworth Junction. By the 1880s other locos had arrived at Cannock Wood to join ‘Marquis’. The second arrival was a Lilleshall 0-6-0ST similar to the first, numbered 2 and named ‘Anglesey’. Yet another Lilleshall 0-6-0ST and named ‘Rawnsley’ also arrived in 1873. This loco was unusual in the respect that it had been built as a 2-2-2 passenger engine of Beyer Peacock design for the Paris Exhibition. However, it would appear that Lilleshall could not sell the loco as they altered it drastically in rebuilding to an 0-6-0ST and never again built a main line passenger locomotive. Other loco arrivals were ‘Beaudesert’ and ‘Cannock Wood’ both built by Fox Walker of Bristol in 1875 and 1870 respectively. The original 0-6-0ST ‘Cannock Wood’ ‘Cannock Wood’ which was numbered 6 did not last long, being re-sold to the Brymbo Steel Co. in 1907. ‘Beaudesert’ lasted until the early 1960s however. ‘Birch’ In 1888 the one and only Cannock and Rugeley built loco came out of the workshops. She was a 2-4-0T with outside cylinders and named ‘Birch’, possibly after the Colliery Engineer or Manager. As far as I know, no workplates were affixed. ‘Harrison’ The next loco arrival was named ‘Harrison’ and this had a chequered history. She was supplied as a 2-4-0T named ‘Hope’ by the Yorkshire Engine Co. of Sheffield in 1875 to the Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway. From the ill-fated PS & NW Railway she was sold to the East and West Junction Railway, eventually being sold by them to a dealer, B.P.Blockley of Bloxwich near Walsall. He sold the loco in 1905 to see further use at Cannock Wood. In 1916 she was rebuilt as an 0-6-0T and she retained this wheel arrangement until her demise in 1955. An agreement of October 6th, 1908 between the LNWR and the Colliery Company permitted the Colliery Company to run trains over the Cannock Chase Branch for the purpose of carrying miners and other employees. By the time such events came to be photographed by enthusiasts a three coach set was provided by the Company, leaving a platform in the Colliery yard just below the screens for the journey down to Hednesford. The platform itself was brick-built with bricks from the associated brickworks, each brick bearing the initials CRC (some of these bricks have been brought down to Chasewater, as have the bollards at the back of the platform). According to the enamel sign, (also now at Chasewater), the Paddy left each day at 4.30pm for Hednesford. Paddy coaches at Pool Pits Junction, Hednesford in 1949 The three coach set comprised of a Maryport & Carlisle Railway six-wheel 3rd class coach with five compartments, built by the Metropolitan Wagon & Finance Co., in 1875, a Great Eastern Railway six-wheel passenger brake built at Stratford, London, in 1894, both the above having been preserved by the RPS since 1960, when following the discovery of these priceless relics by the RPS members in the wagon repair yard at Rawnsley, the National Coal Board kindly donated both vehicles, and a third vehicle, of which I do not have a clear photograph, which had a ‘birdcage’ roof and was possibly most likely to be of South Eastern & Chatham Railway origin. The entire body of this coach was bought by a farmer for use in storing foodstuffs, etc. and remained at his farm quite close to the colliery, albeit in worsening condition, from about 1955 until ten years or so later, when it was burnt up.