The Churnet Valley Railway in north Staffordshire runs for eleven miles from Kingsley and Froghall to Leekbrook, near to Leek. Cheddleton is one of the stations on this route and is the original station on this preserved railway with a charming grade two listed station. Sitting on this station platform, the chugging of the trains on this lovely railway line takes me straight back to a time of steam trains.
Les Richards must have been an early volunteer with the Churnet Valley Railway, as it wasn’t until 1996 that the regular service along the short stretch of line from Cheddleton to Leekbrook began. Cheddleton station closed in 1965 and a local campaign to preserve the railway began in the 1970s with the Cheddleton station building only just saved from demolition in 1974. Since 1996, the Churnet Valley Railway has gone from strength to strength and is now a well-used and well-loved railway.
I am sorry that I haven’t been able to find an obituary for Les Richards, who gave so much of his time to the Churnet Valley Railway as he feels like a man worth knowing more about. I assume his fellow volunteers erected the memorial bench at Cheddleton station to say that his ‘presence and support is greatly missed by all’ and that is certainly a sentiment we would all like said of us.