A Virtual Stroll Along the Mickle Trafford-Shotton Railway

newton lane bridgeWelcome! We commence our journey of exploration along the disused Mickle Trafford railway on a sunny day in October 1997, looking in the direction of Mickle Trafford.

Wreathed in deep shadow from the surrounding mature trees, here we see the bridge that carries Newton Lane over the bed of the old railway. Its dimensions are typical of the many other bridges on the line, several of which we shall encounter in the course of our stroll.

It seems difficult to imagine how a cycletrack, a footpath and a two-lane busway are all to be made to fit into the limited space available under these bridges without severe compromises- buses naturally having priority over walkers and cyclists.

The only bus stop along the course of Phase I of the busway- between the Mannings Lane Park & Ride site and the city centre- is planned to be situated in close proximity to this bridge. To avoid the Newton area turning into one large car park as a consequence of this, severe new parking restrictions and other 'complimentary measures' (details of which have not yet been made publicly available) are apparently to be introduced throughout this residential area.

In addition, neighbouring allotments and other open green spaces are being snapped up by developers- such as the grounds of the nearby New Scene Youth Club, for which a planning application for a housing scheme was submitted in May 1999.

Our next page shows a steam train passing beneath this bridge back in 1955 and here is the same area photographed in July 2000, showing how the environment around Newton Lane Bridge had radically improved thanks to the construction of the SUSTRANS cycletrack...

In sharp contrast, however, on the right we can see the Newton Lane bridge as featured in one of the council's 'artist's impressions' of the CDTS busway as they imagine it would appear "five years after opening"- a dreary, utilitarian environment whose only function would appear to be to shift shoppers from the Manning's Lane Park & Ride to the city centre and back again.

What appeal is a place like this likely to have for Chester's hard-pressed families, desperate for a place to relax, breathe clean air and give their children somewhere to be, just for once, safe from a growing horde of speeding motorists?

busesJust in case you were experiencing difficulty in visualising just how much space two buses side-by-side actually take, here is a rather fuzzy photograph taken at the Upton Park-and-Ride site which appeared in the Chester local press at the end of August 2000 to accompany an appeal by Anne Jones of the Society for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) for the retention of the route as a haven for walkers and cyclists.

Visualise how much space would remain once a concrete roadway wide enough to accomodate these two monsters was laid- and go here for some 'artist's impressions' of how it will look- not a pleasant sight!
And what would be left for the rest of us? Precious little it seems.

Part two of our railway stroll will also commence here at Newton Lane Bridge, taking us as far as the edge of Mickle Trafford

13th September 2002: A remarkable view of the cycleway taken on a sunny Friday evening from the top of Newton Lane Bridge, when over 400 people assembled to celebrate the refusal of Cheshire County Council to fund the busway- and also to show their support for the preservation of the cycleway / footpath as it is...

Amazing. Learn more here or read the press releases...

Railway Stroll Introduction | Woodlands Drive | CDTS Letters | Site Front Door | Chester Walls Virtual Stroll