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The Grand Junction Railway - 175th Anniversary

July 4th 1837 was the date Crewe was put on the map.

The Grand Junction Railway Company having surveyed the area to ascertain the best route through Cheshire to link Birmingham with Manchester and Liverpool decided that it should be built through the Midland Gap at Whitmore descending to the Cheshire plain through Madeley and Betley to the township of Crewe and ultimately on to Warrington and Earlestown where it formed a junction with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

The station, which was named Crewe, but was actually in the parish of Monks Coppenhall, was classified as a first class station and as such, every train was required to stop there despite the fact that the local population was extremely small, only 148 souls in 1831 and 203 in 1841, four years after the railway had arrived. The reason for the classification was because it was here that it crossed one of the main roads in the area, that being the one linking the two important market towns of Nantwich and Sandbach.

History was soon to change the nature and importance of Crewe station. In June 1840 plans were afoot to move the locomotive works from Edge Hill in Liverpool to Crewe and land was being purchased for that purpose. It was also at about this time that Crewe became a junction with the opening to traffic of the Chester and Crewe Railway in October 1840 thus establishing its importance which was further enhanced by the opening in August 1842 of the more direct route to Manchester via Wilmslow and Stockport. Other routes followed: the North Staffordshire Railway branch to Kidsgrove in 1848 and the London and North Western Railway branch to Shrewsbury in 1858. By 1846, the new locomotive works had been opened and it was on the route which was to become the West Coast Main Line to Scotland.

The township of Crewe grew rapidly, because of the relocation of the locomotive works, from the figures previously mentioned, to a figure in 1851 of 4571, 8159 in 186, and 17810 in 1871.

To accommodate the population, the railway company had to provide housing, schools, churches and other social amenities.

In 1846 the London and North Western Railway was formed by the amalgamation, with the Grand Junction Railway, of the earlier smaller companies, and in 1862 the locomotive repair and building facilities at Longsight and Wolverton were centralised at Crewe thus ensuring the works future.

The above facts and their subsequent story can be seen on display at the Crewe Heritage Centre together with a further display by the Manchester Metropolitan University in September (further details to be announced). There is also a display at Stafford Station giving a history of the early years of the station and its subsequent development.

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