VOLUNTEERS are planning to resurrect part of a disused railway line into a public footpath, cycle route and bridle way.
The group, Friends of Cheadle Railway, is forming a committee to carry out the project, which would see the disused line, which goes from Cheadle to Cresswell, become more accessible for walkers, horse riders and cyclists.
The main access to the route will be from the Master Potter estate and Glebe Road in Cheadle.
The first stage of the project will be to clear and resurface the route up to Totsmonslow.
A meeting will be held at the Anchor Inn in Teanford on Tuesday, July 4, 7pm, and anyone interested in helping with the project is invited to attend.
Leading the group, keen cyclist Darryl Worthington said: “Over the last few years different councillors have tried to open this old disused railway as a footpath to no avail.
“So having spoken to Cheadle town councillor Gary Bentley, Staffordshire county councillor Mark Deaville and the leaseholder of the land, Moorland and City Railways (MCR), who all support the project, we thought it must be possible to get this overgrown but ideal route from Totmonslow to Cheadle open.
“It would give lots of people the opportunity to walk, cycle, and ride horses along this lovely traffic-free pathway.”
Cheadle town councillor for the area, Gary Bentley, added: “I have often seen people trying to navigate the overgrown path and I want to thank Darryl and the group for spearheading this idea to bring the path into a proper use for the public.”
The long-term lease for the line is currently held by MCR, which had originally proposed to bring it back into use as a railway.
However, this project is supported by MCR director David Kemp.
He said: “When we first got involved with the line, the idea was to look at the possibility of reopening it, but there doesn’t appear to any great interest from the local authorities.
“I think that what is now being proposed may well be the best use for the line, certainly for the time being, and it would be worth doing.
“The advantage is that it doesn’t necessarily stop it from reopening as a railway line, if that option arises in future, as it’s not being broken up, no-one is building on it and the bridges aren’t being removed.”
The proposals are welcomed by Cheadle residents who regularly use the line.
Mr Beardmore, who is also race director for the Cheadle 4 Road Race, said: “This would be ideal for runners because it is safe, there is no traffic and, as long as a good surface is put down, which is being proposed, it could be used by the club for training runs.”
Mrs Beardmore added: “We sometimes lead walks for the group and it will be an ideal route for us.”
Project group volunteer Neil Plant, aged 68, from Park Avenue in Cheadle, said: “It’s a brilliant idea for the community and everyone should get behind it.
“It’s good for Cheadle and a lot of people will want to use it.
“I know Cheadle U3A have expressed support, as their members would benefit from it, as well as other groups from Cheadle and surrounding areas.”
Barry Barnett, president of Cheadle U3A, welcomed the project.
He said: “It is an excellent idea, I’m a regular walker and cyclist, with a bizarre interest in cross country skiing, and I have skied on that route in the snow.
“The U3A has a cycling group which promotes cycling in and around Cheadle.
“The traffic situation on the roads is horrendous and the more help given for people to be able to get around by walking or cycling the better.”
Staffordshire County Councillor Mark Deaville said: “We all love our countryside, pathways and green spaces which is one of the things that help make Staffordshire such a great place to live, work and visit.
“I’m very pleased to be able to support the ‘friends of Cheadle railway’ group’ who are helping to maintain the old railway line from Cheadle to Creswell.
“The group have already overseen some work on the four mile stretch of railway which they are hoping will become a valuable local amenity for recreation purposes used with the permission of the railway owners.
“I’m looking forward to working with the group and have agreed to provide a small amount of local community funding towards the project.”