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The North Staffordshire Railway was a British railway company which had its roots in an early scheme to build a small plateway from the base of the Cauldon Canal up to Cauldon Quarries. Both of the two aforementioned things are still in use, with the Cauldon Canal joining up with the Trent and Mersey Canal at Etruria.
As well as the canals, other schemes were being promoted. The Staffordshire Potteries Railway promoted a route from Macclesfield to the mainline at Colwich plus a spur to Crewe and The Churnet valley scheme promoted a line from Macclesfield to Derby. After these two companies applied for the necessary powers to build the lines, Parliament suggested a pause of a year 'to afford time for consideration and for maturing some more complete scheme for the accommodation of that important district'.
This was advantageous to the SPR who formed the North Staffordshire Railway company.
1846 The company was incorporated by Acts of Parliament with authorisation to build three railways: 
1847 The following year the loop line through Burslem was authorised and in 1848, the Ashbourne branch.
The various lines were opened as follows:-
1875 See 1875 Number of Locomotives.
1921 Under the Railways Act 1921, the NSR was one of the eight major companies designated to form the LMS Group.
1923 The NSR was absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Along with the Caledonian Railway, the amalgamation into the LMS was delayed from 1 January 1923 to July 1, 1923 due to certain legal requirements not being completed by the due date.