Built in 1893 to link the Foxfield Colliery in the village of Dilhorne to the North Staffordshire Railway at Blythe Bridge, 3 ½ miles away the railway takes a round-about route from the colliery due to the requirements to keep the railway as far away as possible from Dilhorne Hall. Starting off heading in the wrong direction and completing a 180 degree turn whilst climbing over 100 feet in just over 2/3 of a mile created the well known Foxfield Bank which, with gradients as steep as 1 in 19 is the steepest standard gauge adhesion incline in the country. The rest of the 3 mile journey meanders across rural Staffordshire countryside with sharp curves and steep gradients giving a challenging line to operate. The railway was built at weekends by North Staffordshire Railway workers supervised by Foreman Platelayer Noah Stanier.
When the colliery closed in 1965 the site was taken over by a mineral processing firm who wanted to retain the railway to transport the minerals by rail. At the same time the Foxfield Light Railway Society was formed to operate trains over the line at weekends with the agreement of the owning company. Commercial traffic never started but the Society obtained its first steam locomotive in 1967 and ran the first train on 14th May 1967 making it one of the earliest standard gauge preserved railways in the U.K. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and is now well established as a railway that the, often overlooked, industrial locomotive can be seen in a suitable environment.
The collection has grown over the years from an engine and a few wagons to over 30 locomotives, many of which are unique including the sole surviving North Staffordshire Railway steam locomotive ‘North Stafford No.2’ and the grand old lady ‘Bellerophon’ – star of the BBC’s ‘Cranford’ (well, if you ignore Dame Judy Dench). Alongside the locomotives the railway is also home to a wide selection of rolling stock ranging from a collection of the ubiquitous 16 ton mineral wagon used for demonstration coal trains, right through to the beautifully restored ‘North Staffordshire Railway’ coaches dating from the 1880s which operate once a month on special ‘Knotty Heritage’ days.
The Railway is entirely volunteer run and we are always looking for new recruits to help in operating, maintaining and developing the railway to ensure its survival for future generations to experience the thrill of steam working hard to earn its living.