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Cheshire's Steepest Railway - Here on The Ridge!

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rail incline on bulkeley hill once used to bring material up to service the reservoirbulkeley hill pumping stationhouses

Many of our readers will have seen the rail incline at Bulkeley Hill but do you actually know its local history?

The rail incline on Bulkeley Hill was once used to bring materials up for both the construction and maintenance of the reservoir (some 210 m above sea level).

After the water was pumped into the elevated reservoir, it ran in a 27-inch pipeline to The Potteries.

The 'Bulkeley Hill Narrow Gauge Railway' comprised a 350 yards (320 m) long 2 feet (610 mm) gauge rope-hauled incline.

With a grade of nearly 1:1 in one section, it is known as 'Cheshire's Steepest Railway' and continues to be a challenge for local runners on The Ridge (our thanks to Nick Holmes who has advised us that the fastest recorded time to run up the railway is just 2mins 03secs!)

The expansion of house building in the 1930s and the increasing demand for water (particularly with the domestic installation of baths and water closets) required new sources of water to be sought.

The Staffordshire Potteries Water Board was granted permission in 1937 to build drinking water pumping stations at Peckforton and Tower Wood in Cheshire with a reservoir right here on the Sandstone Ridge at Bulkeley Hill.

From there, the water was piped to a large reservoir at Cooper's Green near Audley for distribution to Tunstall and the Potteries.

Interestingly, there are three catch points for derailing any runaway vehicles – now there's a thought!

At its bottom station, five reused Lancashire boilers are available as diesel storage tanks for the pumps.

Our images also show

  • the Pumping Station and
  • the Pumping Station houses on Stone House Lane which were originally built for the workers of the Pumping Station

Click on each image to enlarge.

An interpretation panel is sited at the top of the incline.

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