THE SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE RAILWAY
NORTON JUNCTION & RYDERS HAYES CROSSING
Situated roughly half way between Pelsall and Brownhills stations and originally known as Ryders Hayes this Norton Junction in South Staffordshire was by far the largest of the many that carry the name on the British rail network. It became so large because of enormous production of coal from the mines at Norton canes and Cannock Chase. Wagons were brought down to the marshalling yard at the junction on National Coal Board lines, with coal board locomotives, to be marshalled into trains of the right length to make thier journeys onward on the national rail network.
Today the sidings south of the junction have become a housing estate with the gardens of Fairburn Cresent in the north eastern most corner actually sitting on the former NCB alignment to Cannock Chase with the alignment north from the other side of the A4121 continuing as the Beacon way, although where encroached upon by the Industrial Estate it uses the canal path that formerly ran alongside the railway.
To the east the alignment is still visible from the air and appears to be an unnofficial footpath ending at the point just beyond where another coliery line traversed the alignment north south, on the bank of the Rushall Canal. To the east of this is an Industrial Estate and Royal Oak and in the north eastern quadrant of the cross made by the alignments is a housing estate, Clayhanger Village. The whole area having been built on the site of the Clayhanger Colliary.
RYDERS HAYES CROSSING
A hundred metres or so south of the end of Norton Junction sidings was a footbridge allowing a long standing footpath to cross the railway, and another hundres metres brought one to a level crossing for Ryders Hayes Lane, which was in reality little more than an access to the farm of the same name. The alignment alough intact and protected is severely overgrown with an unofficial footpath running along it.
Today the lane has become a road leading to a housing estate some of which is built on the site of some of the sidings. The lane continues between two houses over the former track alignment but today beyond this crossing point is only a footpath across a field as the farm no longer exists.
Equally the foot bridge has gone but the footpath still crosses the alignment, so any reopening would have to replace this for safety reasons, and as the paths meet a short way into the field, one or other crossing point might be allowed to be diverted via the other crossing point. Which ever point is decided the bridge would be situated there.
30 metres further south again, a concrete barrier has been built at some time. Whilst only a couple of feet high, which the fit could jump on and off the unofficial path just goes through the fence into the field and back into the alignment the other side.