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Rail Around Birmingham
& the West Midlands

Rail Around Birmingham & the West Midlands

 

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Stratford upon Avon (Old Town) station 1955 (Hugh Ballantyne)
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Stratford upon Avon (Old Town) Station

1873 - 1952

The history of what became known as Stratford upon Avon (Old Town) involves several railway companies on a route which progressed in fits and starts from a single-line track between Stratford and Blisworth constructed between 1866 and 1873. Constructed by the oddly named East - West Junction Railway (as the line provided a link between Blisworth - East - with the Birmingham to Euston mainl line - West), the line was so poorly patronised that the two daily trains each way were temporarily suspended in 1877! So poor were the EWJR (having earlier escaped the Receivers only on the basis of a reasonable trade in goods traffic), along with other independant operators in the region, that in 1909 they merged to form the Stratford upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway who themselves, in 1923, were absorbed into the LMS. Indicative of the lack of financial opporunties for the line, the GWR - never a stranger to a hostile takeover bid for a local competitor - ignored the EWJR apart from offering exchange sidings facilities with their Birmingham - Gloucester line at Stratford despite the EWJR offering 'competition' to the GWR's Stratford upon Avon station a short distance away. Considering the above, 'Old Town' station, and indeed the line, did extremely well to remain a going concern until its final demise in 1952, with regard to the former, and 1965 the latter. Above we see the station in 1955 (photo: Hugh Ballantyne) with an SLS Special visiting the site providing at least some passenger interest. Interestingly, the Queen Mother also used the station in 1964 for which the platform was especially resurfaced some 12 years after passenger services had ceased!

 
Stratford upon Avon Old Town station remaining platform
Stratford upon Avon Old Town station remaining platform
 

Above-left we are taking a similar view to that of the 1955 photograph and can see that the Blisworth platform has been left in situ, by one of the few local councils who have a concern for their region's history, as a momento of what once stood at the site. As can be seen, the track has long-since been lifted and the site cleared during the 1990s for the construction of the A4390 Seven Meadows Road. In this shot we are looking East with the railway having bridged the river Avon a couple of hundred yards ahead of where the photographer is standing. Above-right we are in the same spot but have turned 180 degrees: the track from here followed the road and then swept to the left just out of shot and followed the perimeter of Straford Racecourse.

 
Stratford upon Avon Old Town station site
Stratford upon Avon Old Town station site
 

Above-left we have climbed over the platform to look East and above-right we are looking West towards the point where the line crossed the GWR's Birmingham - Gloucester line and beyond, to the line's conclusion at Broome Junction where it joined the now defunct Midland's Gloucester line South of Redditch. To the right of this shot, interestingly, was a skyline dominating silo operated by the Ministry of Food which did provide some goods traffic for the site, especially during wartime. As can be seen, other than the preserved platform, nothing remains at the site to indicate a railway ever passed through.

 
Stratford upon Avon Old Town station track momento
 

Above we see a 'tribute' to the site's former function: a short length of track and buffer stop. To the immediate left of the shot is the A4390 with the remaining platform the other side of that road. I was extremely pleased to see some nod in the direction of a site's railway history being made by a local authority. It is a shame that more examples of such an approach to heritage isn't taken by more councils.

 

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