This section of my website is a departure from my normal practice in that it contains many photographs not taken by me. I was keen to put online an historical record of the area around my home town, Stratford-upon-Avon, but I did not take any pictures here much before 1983. I am very fortunate to have assembled a collection of pictures from earlier times taken by some of the finest railway photographers this country has produced, and I am immensely grateful to these gentlemen for their permission to reproduce their images here. Please note that the copyright of these pictures is held by the individual photographers concerned and the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on anyone found to have stolen them, for whatever purpose. It has been an enormous pleasure for me see and prepare these photographs for this section, especially those showing the now-closed line south of the station at Stratford-upon-Avon. Any uncredited photographs are my own. This is very much a work in progress and this much material yet to be scanned and added to the section.

It is hard to believe in 2007 that the now truncated line from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon once continued to Honeybourne, Cheltenham and on to South Wales and the West Country. On summer Saturdays in the summer, the line was extremely busy and I can recall seeing as many as 6 northbound expresses in the 30 minutes between 18.30 and 19.00. Most of these would have been double-headed from Stratford because of the climb to Wilmcote, although more lightly loaded services may just have been banked as far as Wilmcote, where a crossover existed to return the assisting locomotive to Stratford. The rundown in services began at the end of the summer timetable in 1963 after which date the majority of West Country trains, including the line's most famous train, The Cornishman, were diverted to run along the Midland line via the Lickey incline. There were, however, many through freights on the line and frequent diversions, especially at weekends, still ran via Stratford. When the line closed in 1976 there were several freights each day, this route providing a good way to avoid the bottlenecks around Birmingham, keep slower class 6 and 7 trains clear of increasingly fast passenger services, and, for northbound trains, avoid the Lickey Incline



This photograph, taken on 16 August 1958, shows GWR 4-6-0 4973 Sweeney Hall leaving Stratford-upon-Avon with a Birmingham Snow Hill to Cardiff and Swansea train. The picture is full of long-gone railway infrastructure absolutely oozing with character, including the water tower which was fed by gravity from the Stratford canal at Wilmcote via a pipeline running under the towing path. Wilmcote was at the summmit of a stiff 1/75 climb and was sufficiently elevated to provide a sufficient head of water to keep the tank full in order to supply columns at each end of the station and in the adjacent shed and goods loop. Both the West and East signalboxes are visible, the former being the closer to the camera. This was locally known as The Palace, being kept in immaculate condition by its regular signalmen, and was often the venue for visits by important railway dignitaries. A 3 car DMU on a local service, can be seen in platform 3. The headshunt by the West Box was used to stable one or more banking engines, up to 6 or 7 of which would have been sent down from Tyseley on summer Saturdays. In the week, 2 Collet 0-6-0s or a Prairie tank shedded here would fulfilled the role. Brian Morrison
The scene just south of Stratford station had dramatically changed by 26 October 1974, as this picture shows only too well. The West Box has gone along with the water tower, siding, headshunt and associated signalling. By this time, there was no connection from the up main line to platform 3 because the local passenger service, the only user of the connection, had long since finished. The entrance to the station was controlled by Evesham Road Crossing Box, some 1/2 mile down the line, but through the relatively infrequent traffic in 1974, this would not have caused any capacity problems. I suspect that the running of this train may well have occasioned the special opening of this signal box on a Saturday, when it would normally have been closed at this time, as no trains were scheduled over the weekend. Diesel hydraulic 1025 Western Guardsman has just taken over an enthusiasts' special from steam locomotive 35028 Clan Line and was pictured leaving the station for the south. I imagine, at this late stage in the life of the Westerns that more photographers were out for this leg of the journey than for the steam section. Tom Heavyside
This picture, also taken on 16 August 1958, shows Stafford Road's Castle 5070 Sir Daniel Gooch preparing to leave Stratford-upon-Avon with the 11.15 Newquay to Wolverhampton train. The usual practice would have been for the locomotive to come onto the train at Bristol after being serviced following the southbound run from Wolverhampton earlier in the day. There is a strong possibility that a pilot locomotive would not have been required to assist this powerful locomotive up the 1/75 to Wilmcote; it is more likely that an engine would have come from the siding alongside the West box and give the train a shove through the reverse curves immediately outside the station and then up the bank. My parents did not live far from the station and I can well remember hearing these trains start from the station, accelerate along the short downhill stretch through Bishopton and then become slower and louder as the gradient began to bite on the climb north. Brian Morrison
I am so glad that it wasn't only the main line expresses that were photographed in the 1950s. DMMUs, so often ignored and indeed despised by the more blinkered enthusiasts of time were vital to the railway and have only recently been given the attention that they deserve. Here is a 3-car Western Region suburban unit forming the 15.05 Birmingham Snow Hill to Stratford-upon-Avon service arriving at its destination on Sunday 10 October 1958. At least two passengers can be seen on their feet ready to alight once the train had stopped in the platform. As always, the infrastructure holds as much interest as the train, with the gasworks and gasholders prominent in the right and middle background, the engine shed visible below the gasworks and the East Box, which controlled all the signals, visible at the extreme left hand edge of the picture. Michael Mensing
In almost total contrast to Michael Mensing's photograph of the DMU arriving at Stratford shown above, here is the scene from as near to the same spot as it was possible in the winter of 2006. The working is one of the regular Railhead Treatment Trains which ran in November with the intention of blasting leaf debris from the rails to improve adhesion. The arrival was timed at 12.31, just after the 12.27 passenger service to Stourbridge Junction has departed and on a sunny day this was just late enough for a well-lit picture. Here is Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) 98959 running as 3J87, the 09.03 from Bescot passing evidence of recent engineering work just beyond the platforms at Stratford-upon-Avon station on 21 November 2006.
The 09.03 MPV RHTT from Bescot is booked to stand at Stratford-upon-Avon for several minutes, perhaps to allow the crew a PNB at the station. Here is MPV 98959 standing in platform 1 awaiting reversal. I find these highly complex and technologically advanced vehicles quite interesting, more so than a couple of locomotives topping and tailing a few water tanks. After all, it is not difficult to find locomotives to photograph, but these vehicles tend to appear only in the weed-killing and Autumnal leaf-fall seasons. Stratford-upon-Avon station is liberally decked with advertisements for the current Royal Shakespeare Theatre season, during which all of the Bard's plays are being performed.
After the booked stop and reversal at Stratford-upon-Avon, 3J87 returns to the Birmingham area. It looks as if this unit has not seen much in the way of cleaning since the start of the season - the constant spraying clearly takes its toll... The time of this photograph is 12.36 when the sun is pretty much into the lens for a northbound shot, so much so that I had to take the picture one-handed so as to shield the lens from direct illumination.
Turning around from the picture shown above, this is the scene as MPV 98959 leaves Stratford-upon-Avon en-route to the West Midlands. The pile of sleepers just visible beyond the train roughly marks the site of the proposed steam centre it is hoped to build here. This would apparently be a major attraction for the general public and would include a turntable to avoid the need for either a trip to Hatton and Dorridge for reversal via a triangular junction, or tender-first running. There would also be a servicing facility operating as an outpost to the museum and workshops at Tyseley. The planning application for this site was recently withdrawn to allow for the plans to be re-drawn. The original submission made insufficient allowance for parking and for adequate access and egress to and from the site. Anyone who has tried to leave Station Road in order to head away from Stratford-upon-Avon at a busy time will know the problem faced here...
The sole remaining Hastings Line gauge DEMU, 1001, made its 3rd visit to Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday 4 July 2015. I had photographed the previous visits so had no intention of missing this trip as it arrived at the terminus. The arrival time was just after 11.30 and 1Z40 was booked to run into platform 3, the one furthest over from the station buildings and car park. The best option for an arrival shot is from the extreme end of platform 1 after the train has crossed over from the down main line. On this occasion there was a short wait outside the station to allow 172335 to start its journey to Stourbridge Junction from platform 2 where it had been standing alongside 168001 waiting to leave for London Marylebone at 11.37. Unlike the previous occasion that 1001 came to Stratford, 8 March 1997 there was a little bit of brightness although a complete lack of semaphore signals. This shot is now impossible because of the new lift and bridge which is approaching the end of the construction process. It does seem likely that it will be possible to use the new bridge for a shot of something arriving into platform 1 although I can't be sure at this stage.
I don't often take multiple shots of trains as I'm not keen on the "photo-journalism" approach because, as the saying goes, less is usually more, but on this occasion I did hang around for the passengers to disperse a little and then take a few static images. Here is 1001 standing in platform 3 at Stratford soaking up the warm and rather high sun before its departure to Tyseley for refueling and presumably some attention to the on-board services. To me, this unique train is of far more interest than a mundane locomotive-hauled working although, judging by the lack of postings on various email groups, my view isn't widely held!
There was just enough time for a walk along the island platform to take a final shot of 1001 complete with its "Warwickshire Wanderer" headboard. The sun was into a big clear patch of sky by now and I joined the orderly queue on the platform end for my turn to take this image in the rather restricted available space. The ECS movements to and from Tyseley was shown as running along the Noth Warwickshire Line but as is often the case this didn't happen and both runs were via Solihull.
The returning ECS from Tyseley to Stratford, 5Z41, was a few minutes late leaving and was routed via Solihull and Hatton North Junction instead of the booked route though Henley in Arden. This didn't bother me too much as I had planned to go either to Wilmcote or Stratford Parkway to make sure that my photograph of 1001 was in a recognisable location rather than in open countryside; I don't really see the point in taking an unusual or one-off shot in a spot that could be anywhere in the country. Anyway, I went for the latter option as although there is an attractive footbridge at Wilmcote it is, to say the least, very well photographed and perhaps slightly clichéd. Just after I arrived at the Bishopton Lane roadbridge 172102 with an unidentified sister unit arrived for its booked stop at the station. This meant that 1001 was on the way from Bearley Junction and it soon came into view as it coasted down Wilmcote Bank, just a couple of minutes late.
The first run of a class 172 DMU to Stratford-upon-Avon with passengers on board took place on Tuesday 30 August 2011 when London Midland gave its staff, friends and families the chance for a run from Birmingham Snow Hill before the new trains enter service from 5 September. Here is 172345 arriving at the terminus's platform 1 spot on time at 10.30 with the first run of the day which didn't seem to have generated a lot of enthusiasm amongst those eligible to travel; I doubt that there were more than a dozen or so passengers on board although there was a second run at lunchtime with a much longer layover at Stratford which may have been more interesting to potential passengers . The view from this footbridge has changed a little in the last twenty-odd years; here is a picture of a class 114 unit taken in 1990.
The first passenger carrying class 172 to visit Stratford-upon-Avon had a break of around twenty minutes before returning to Birmingham Snow Hill. This gave the passengers the chance to visit the coffee shop and other facilities on the platform and for the crew to record the event. The driver of 172345 poses for a photograph beside his cab before returning north on 30 August 2011. There have been almost daily mileage accumulation runs of these units to Stratford for some time now and it is is good to be able to take a few photographs while they still are clean and shiny. My final picture of 172345 was taken as it left the station, passing the new London Midland station sign and running-in board.
As I mentioned above, there have been many mileage accumulation runs of class 172 DMUs to Stratford-upon-Avon. Just after the first passenger carrying train had left the station two twin coach sets, 172211 + 172213, ran in on a such a duty. All the other units of the type that I have seen have been three coach sets and having differing capacities will enhance the flexibility of the type in commuter and outer suburban use as they can be couple into various formations. This train stayed in platform 1 for about fifteen minutes and is seen again just prior to departure along the North Warwickshire Line to Tyseley.
Stratford-upon-Avon station has seen the occasional locomotive naming take place over the years. One that I missed entirely was on 14 September 1987 when 37672 was named Freight Transport Association while standing in platform 1. One wonders that if a similar event took place today would the assembled photographers be quite so well dressed? Chris Morrison
I mentioned in the caption to the picture of 5070 that a Castle might not need the help of a pilot locomotive all the way to Birmingham. Here is the proof. Stratford's Collett 0-6-0 2257 is here seen at the rear of the main portion of the northbound Cornishman on 23 May 1959. I did like this engine and its sister 2210, both of which were shedded at Stratford. They had a lovely exhaust note when being worked hard and could accomplish a good turn of speed when required. The train locomotive on this occasion was coincidentally 5070 Sir Daniel Gooch, the same Castle as in the picture above. The DMU on the left of the picture, in the "Cold Store" siding is no doubt waiting for the express to clear the section so that it can pull forward before reversing into one of the departure platforms, probably No. 3, to form a northbound connecting service. The building on the extreme right of the photograph is Stratford's municipal gasworks, feeding the well-known and sadly now demolished gas holders.Michael Mensing
Here is a photograph of Stratford's other "Baby Castle", 2251 coupled inside Castle Class 4-6-0 5089 Westminster Abbey. The train is is the 11.15 Ilfracombe to Wolverhampton Low Level climbing Wilmcote bank on 27 June 1964. The help of the Collett 0-6-0 will be appreciated on this 1/75 gradient and also on the 1/150 of Danzey Bank, but then the crew of the train engine will be in for a bit of a shaking as the longer-legged Castle gets into its stride on the run into Birmingham. Most mainline expresses to the South West on this route had ceased at the end of the summer timetable in 1963 but the line through Stratford-upon-Avon was still used for some summer Saturday trains over the following years. Michael Mensing
By way of contrast to the photograph above, this beautiful picture shows 7019 Fowey Castle, with a flat-sided tender, making a lot of visible effort on the climb to Wilmcote with a relief to the northbound Cornishman on 15 June 1957. The locomotive appears to be completely steam tight and the driver, on this dry evening, clearly had confidence in his engine and fireman to tackle the bank unaided. Wilmcote Bank is relatively short and there is a downhill stretch at Bishopton before the gradient starts to bite and keen drivers really made the most of this - I can remember listening to trains leaving the station in the early 1960s and being fascinated to hear them rapidly pick up speed once away from the reverse curves before becoming much louder and slower as they climbed away. Michael Mensing
Turning around from the photograph of Sweeney Hall at the top of the section, this shot saw 4980 Wrottesley Hall approaching the station with the 10.35 Paignton to Wolverhampton train on 16 August 1958. Stratford's prairie tank 5163 has reversed out of the headshunt adjacent to the East signalbox and once the Halls's train has cleared the pointwork it will buffer up to the rear coach and bank it to Wilmcote. Thos area just south of the station was locally known as "The Cutting" and several footpaths straddled the line, all of which were regularly blocked when a long freight was held outside the station or made to reverse into the refuge siding. It was not unknown for impatient walkers to literally risk life and limb by attempting to cross the line by clambering between wagons. Brian Morrison
This exceptionally rare photograph of a diesel-hauled train arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1964 shows D5695, latterly 31265, in the station on 11 June of that year with a special train from Bury St. Edmunds. The overall canopy roof on platforms 2 and 3 is still intact; it was later removed prior to a visit to the town by HM the Queen as it was by then in a pooor state. The DMU in platform 1 is a service from Birmingham terminating here - if it had been going further south the repeater signal on the platfrom would have been in the "off" position. I should like to repeat my plea for any similar material; it has been virtually impossible to find photographs of diesel locomotives around Stratford and I should be most grateful to hear from anyone who knows of such pictures - particularly if they show timetabled freight services. R.J.Buckley
A much more recent rare visitor to Stratford-upon-Avon is seen here. D9000, Royal Scots Grey came to the town on the early morning of 9 December 2000 with a railtour from Shirley, on the North Warwickshire Line, to the Lindum Fayre at Lincoln. When I was a young enthusiast in the 1960s, I would no more have dreamed of a seeing a Deltic here than Sir Nigel Gresley or Mallard. In fact, there are now very few classes of locomotive, steam or diesel, not to have visited the town. The train, reporting number 1Z55, is here seen at 08.15, just before departure to Lincoln via Hatton West to North Junctions and thence Birmingham, Water Orton, Hinckley, Leicester and Nottingham. I did also take a  colour transparency of D9000 but the lighting was a little difficult with the sun rising and illuminating the other side of the train. After returning from Lincoln, the train departed from Stratford shortly before 10pm and I did stand outside my house, about a 5 minute walk from the station, to hear it roar away up Wilmcote Bank and back to Birmingham.
Another Western to visit Stratford was 1052 Western Viceroy. This one came at the head of a Plymouth Railway Circle Railtour on 29 March 1975 and was photographed during a photostop in platform 2 having come north from Cheltenham. The two aspect repeater signal on platform 1 is worth a second look. The station was on a slight curve with a high roadbridge immdediately on the end of the platform. This made sighting difficult fro drivers so this repeater was added. This device always fascinated me on my frequent visits to the station in the early 1960s - a signal moving without wires creaking? Whatever next! Westerns were never seen at Stratford on timetabled services, but I am told by one of the signalman from the Evesham Road Crossing Box that occasional visits were made by the class in the 1970s on trains from Birmingham used for brake tests around Toddington. Sadly, I didn't see any of these and as far as I am aware, no photographs exist of them. In fact, I have been quite unable to find any photographs at all of diesel-hauled freight in the immediate vicinity of Stratford-upon-Avon in the 1970s and should be most grateful to hear from anyone that either has or knows of any.The late Bert Wynn
This photograph was taken from a similar position to that of Western Viceroy shown above, but some 19 years later. It shows 47738, named Bristol Barton Hill, with the Royal Scotsman stock standing in platform 2 prepraring to leave with an early morning departure for Perth. I lived within sight of the line when this shot was taken on 29 April 1994 and had seen the train rolling in during the previous evening. A few enquiries at the station established the departure time which, being 07.30, needed a sunny morning to make the most of the picture. This was the first visit of the stock to Stratford-upon-Avon and it becamse quite a regular over the next 2 years, before the terminus was taken off the list of destinations. 645
The annual Global Gathering music festival took place at Long Marston airfield over the weekend of 26-28 July 2013. Chiltern Railways ran several additional services from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon and the most interesting of these was 1Z18, the 09.18 from London formed of 67023 hauling the blue & grey slam door stock. The scheduled arrival time at Stratford was 10.55 and the train should have run into platform 2 but the preceding train formed of a Chiltern class 165 had gone into there some fifteen minutes earlier and wasn't due to leave as ECS until 11.00. There was little chance of 1Z18 going into platform 1 as this would be needed by the Stourbridge Junction trains so the only option was P3. This was initially a bit disappointing but I changed my mind when I thought about it; I didn't have a picture of a locomotive-hauled train going into this one. I did take a picture of 37418 standing there but this was way back in March 1994. All in all I was quite happy with this image of 67023 with it's full load of some 600 passengers arriving at Stratford; more so than the one taken of the return, 1Z62, when it passed Stratford Parkway with DVT 82305 leading in an unwelcome period of bright sunshine. The exhaust smoke of 67023 can just be made out under the Bishopton Road bridge.
The 14th annual Global Gathering festival at Long Marston airfield took place place over the weekend of 25-27 July 2014 and Chiltern Trains provided several additional and strengthened services from Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon which included a 1Z18 09.18 departure from the London terminus. This utilised the locomotive and coaching stock from 1H21, the 07.44 Banbury to Marylebone which would otherwise be stabled at Wembley for most of the day. The locomotive on the blue & grey coaches was 67023, the same one used last year which went into platform 3, and my 2014 photograph was taken as the train arrived into platform 2 at Stratford about 2 minutes early. This wasn't the shot I had had in mind but a London Midland class 173/3 was in platform 1 waiting to depart for Stourbridge Junction a few minutes later so I had to stand a bit further along the platform than I should have liked. The return from Stratford was timed for 15.12 but with the DVT leading and the sun in completely the wrong place for photography I made do with this view, although I did take an image showing the revamped station forecourt area and another from the adjacent road bridge which wasn't completely satisfactory thanks to heavy shadows from the station vegetation.
A new bridge combining passenger lifts and stairs has recently opened at Stratford-upon-Avon station; not replacing the listed GWR bridge although the latter is rather overshadowed by the new contruction. The new bridge is of the standard modern design but with some welcome embellishments such as brick facias and wooden valances to reflect the Great Western character of the station as seen here just before completion. This is marked contrast to similar examples at Shirley and Henley-in-Arden which are less sympathetically finished. I hadn't been onto the station for a while and was curious to find out if any photographs of trains arriving at the station were available from the new structure so with there being little of any interest around, apart from the sun, on 16 February 2016 I walked down to have a look as 2D12, the 09.40 from Leamington Spa, pulled in platform 2. A perfectly reasonable shot is on offer so all that is now needed is a slightly more interesting working to visit here. As the Global Gathering Festival seems unlikely to take place this year the chance of a Chiltern class 68 coming seems rather remote and diesel-hauled trains here are rarer than hens teeth so long wait is likely. I intended to return later in the day when the sun on the other side for an arrival into platform 1 but the sun had faded by the optimum time so another visit will be in order at a later date.
RealTime Trains showed that a 2Z01, operated by London Midland, was to visit Stratford-upon-Avon on 21 May 2015 as part of a run between Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury. It was obviously going to be a multiple unit of some sort although probably the not ubiquitous class 172 as it was timed for 75mph running and as a Sprinter. A friend saw it near Solihull saying that it was a 2 coach class 170; a type that I hadn't photographed at the terminus although I do have a single shot of 170508 on the North Warwickshire Line at Edstone Aqueduct. Always happy to take a picture of a "new" class at Stratford I walked down to the station, arriving about 5 minutes before 2Z01's booked time of 09.54 and with time to take a picture of the new and nearly completed footbridge complete with lift access for any disabled (or possibly lazy!) passengers. It good to note that some concession has been made to the GWR heritage of the station with brick facing and wooden valances rather than the more utilitarian examples of a similar same type found at Henley in Arden and Shirley. Anyway, 170504 rolled into platform 2 from Hatton North and West Junctions, narrowly missing a patch of sun, and came to a stop before the crew changed ends and took the train towards Shrewsbury via Henley and New Street. Another "Z" was due into Stratford later the same day, this time steam locomotive 5043 on what I guess was a test run of some sort. I bet that there were more folk around for that...
Few diesel-hauled charter trains visit Stratford-upon-Avon these days so when I saw from RealTime Trains that such a train from Leeds was coming down on 25 August 2014 I was reasonably keen to have a look. It was routed along the North Warwickshire line and if the light had been better a trip somewhere over that way, maybe to Edstone would have been in order. However, the weather on this Bank Holiday Monday was dreadful with glowering skies and intermittently heavy rain which managed to make its presence felt as 60059 entered platform 2 at the terminus. As far as I know only one class 60 has been here before; 60016 back in February 2004 on an engineering train which, as the station was closed I had to photograph rather unsatisfactorily from the car park. Today's picture of 60059 is a bit messy thanks to ongoing preparation work for the new bridge incorporating lifts which is to be sited directly in front of the GWR structure. A 3 car class 172 was just out of sight in platform 1 having arrived from Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge a few minutes earlier. It's lucky that wasn't a longer train.
If I thought that the weather was bad when 60059 arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon on 25 August 2014 then it was a lot worse when it left at 16.15. The sky was much darker and the rain a lot heavier when I arrived at Wilmcote station for a photograph but I decided to get a bit wet and take my shot from the platform to include the attractive station footbridge, despite its rather dodgy colour scheme, in the picture. I heard 1Z61 climbing the 1/75 of Wilmcote Bank and the train soon appeared through the murk and rain on its way back to Leeds, this time running via Hatton North Junction and Solihull. If the weather had been clear and sunny I would have gone to the former where it would have been interesting to have had a comparison picture to this one of 60096 leaving the Stratford branch in March 2006.
Saturday 9 April 2016 saw a locomotive-hauled train scheduled to visit Stratford-upon-Avon from Skegness. The original plan was for a steam locomotive to work the inward leg with a diesel, left on the back of the stock after the ECS move, powering the return. The slightly scary combination of West Coast Rail and Network Rail managed to change the plan several times during the preceding week, with the eventual, allegedly final, schedule showing the steam to be removed at Duddeston Junction (Saltley) and a WCRC class 47 bringing 1Z62 to Stratford. Even on the day things changed with the locomotive swap taking place at Landor Street where 47760, which had run from Rugby, came onto the front. OK, a maroon 47 doesn't make for the greatest image but we don't get many locomotives at Stratford so I walked down to the station for a shot from the new foot and lift bridge. I was watching 1Z62's progress and saw, oddly, that it had run through Hatton station on the up main line where it stood before reversing at Hatton South Junction, running though the Stratford branch platform and so back onto its booked route. The reason for the unusual manoeuvre was a track circuit failure somewhere around Hatton North Junction. This all meant that the far more attractive 47580 was now leading, albeit with a tail-light on the bracket, and it managed to arrive at platform 2 in the last of the sunshine before thick cloud made everything a lot duller. With a half-decent shot of 47580 in the bag my plan to go out for the return working could be abandoned.
Most of the locomotive-hauled test trains that visit Stratford-upon-Avon do so late in the evening meaning that some after dark photography can be practised. On Monday 29 July 2013 an unusual set of timings saw 3Q55, with DBS 9701 and 31285, arrive in daylight at 19.45 and indeed on a sunny evening. Here is the train arriving into platform 1 at the terminus spot on time and just about managing to dodge most of the shadows. This view will soon be a thing of the past as planning notices have been issued giving notice that a new, additional, bridge with lifts for disabled (and possibly lazy!) passengers is to be built roughly in the area of the two square gravel patches on the island platform.
This test train, 3Q55, had originated from Derby and was headed for Didcot via Nuneaton, Coventry, Nuneaton, Washwood Heath, Stratford-upon-Avon, Leamington Spa, COD Kineton and Oxford. It left Stratford right on time, 19.56, with quite a healthy noise from the elderly 31285 after a break to allow the driver to change ends. I am always happy to record another working with a class 31 in charge as they surely won't be doing this sort of work for many more months. The light was lovely although the sun had just dropped enough for the shadow from the platform to encroach slightly on the train's wheels.
Whenever a test train is scheduled to visit Stratford-upon-Avon I keep an eye open in case Colas locomotives are allocated as this is one colour scheme I had yet to photograph at the station. On 4 October 2016 1Q48 from Derby to Tyseley was due to make 2 visits to the terminus and 37219 and 37175 in top-and-tail mode were reported as providing the power. The first visit was around 16.30 and although it was booked to run into platform 3, the worst possible for photography, I hoped that with no trains using platform 1 at that time and with a clear sky promising sunshine it might be routed into that platform. It wasn't and ran as booked and this shot was about the best possible in the circumstances. I didn't have a long lens with me but some judicious cropping did the job although having to compromise between shadows on the front of 37219 and its nose appearing to clip the fence was unfortunate. Even so it was better than the light on the wrong side view for which it was barely worth pressing the shutter release. Just to complete the story I took a third image as 1Q48 left Stratford for the next part of its journey around parts of the East Midlands.
As I mentioned above 1Q48 made 2 visits to Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 October the second being due to arrive just about 22.30. Following the poor results earlier in the day I dug out my tripod and went back to the station to have a crack at a time exposure under the platform lights. This time 1Q48 was due to arrive into platform 2 and it did so meaning that there was a good chance of obtaining a decent image after the driver had changed ends and switched on the cab and headlights. The station lights here are quite bright and the exposure used on ISO 200 was 1.3 seconds at f5.6 in contrast to the lighting in the days when I used 100asa medium format slide film when about 15 seconds was needed. After a decent interval allowing several bracketed exposures the train pulled out of the station for the final part of the day's itinerary to Tyseley LMD.
The Structure Gauging Train visited Stratford-upon-Avon during the evening of Friday 28 October 2016 running as 1Q06 from Tyseley and was routed via the GWR main line to Hatton North Junction where it was to turn right and join the Stratford branch. The locomotive was Colas Rail's 37219 which, unfortunately from a photographic point of view, was on the south end of the formation. Local passenger services were disrupted due to track damage at Hartlebury and several train were cancelled. Just in front of 1Q06 was 2D63 from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford which was 48 minutes late and arrived at the terminus just before I did. It ran into platform 2 and was soon turned round, its 6 coaches leaving as 2Z86 to Worcester Shrub Hill. Platform 1 contained a 3 coach class 172 which screwed up the chances of a decent shot from there as 1Q06 stopped in platform so the only choice was this just after it had stopped. The driver turned off the headlight before his train came to a halt which made a poor image even worse. I moved over to platform 1 for a shot of the DBSO where the lighting is much better and with some attractive interplay of light and shadow in the platform-side trees.
Stratford-upon-Avon has seen more test trains in recent weeks than for the past 2 years and another one appeared in the schedules for Tuesday 29 November 2016. Once again it was 1Q48 from Derby RTC to Tyseley via parts of the East and West Midlands and was due to make 2 visits to the terminus, the first being at 16.30. I went down for this early run for 2 reasons the main one being that the sky would not be completely black and thus give an attractive quality to the light and second, the next visit was at 22.40 and a cold night was forecast! Colas Rail's 37219 and 37421 topped and tailed the 3 coaches which as planned ran into platform 1 and as soon as the leading locomotive's front lights were switched on a series of exposures was made. The station lights here give a really strong and contrasty light; the amount of post-processing of the RAW (NEF) image was minimal; just a touch of sharpening at 0.2 pixel radius and a very small amount of highlight reduction on the footsteps facing the camera which the bright lights had almost burned out.
Test trains to Stratford-upon-Avon now run on a regular basis meaning that the terminus sees far more locomotive-hauled services than since before the closure of the line to the south. On 21 February 1Q48 was allocated 37421 in top-and-tail mode with 37254. The schedule meant that the first of 2 visits to Stratford was just before sunset but in the event there were problems around Rowley Regis meaning that safety inspections were being carried out leading to delays for London Midland passenger services. Because of this 1Q48 with 37421 leading joined the North Warwickshire Line at Tyseley 17 minutes early and with nothing else on the line progress was rapid and it arrived in front of my camera 42 minutes early. Thanks to a Chiltern Railways unit being in platform 3 rather than P2 as booked the test train went into P2; much better for photography and with a little unexpected sun lifting the scene.
The driver of 1Q48 soon removed the portable tail light from 37254 and turned on the headlights. It seemed likely that the train would adhere to the booked departure time so there was plenty of time for a few pictures taken from different angles. Even had the sun not been out, albeit being a bit weak given the time of day, there would have not been a shot available from platform 1 because the train hadn't run far enough down the station so a platform-side view was the only choice but you have to make do with what's available on the day.
Colas Rail's class 67s, 67027 + 67023, paid their second visit in recent weeks to Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday 18 April 2017 with a test train from Derby RTC to Tyseley. On this occasion their arrival was timed to be just before 18.00 with 1Q32 being routed into platform 1; the best for photography at this time of day should the sun be out. The previous train 2S64 from Kidderminster came before a bank of thin cloud found the sun but the light had faded a bit when 67027 led 1Q32 into the station. Still, this was my first image of a Colas 67 in the terminus as when the pair first ran here a few weeks ago a combination of dreadful weather and the train going into platform 3 didn't inspire me enough to make the effort after photographing it at Edstone Aqueduct. The first ever visit of a class 67 to Stratford took place on 15 August 2009 when once again 67027 led its train into the station; photographed from the GWR footbridge a few yards further down the platform than the new bridge from I took the later shot.
There wasn't much of a layover at Stratford for 1Q32 and the driver had soon switched ends and turned on the white lights ready for 67023 to lead away from the station towards Leamington and Fenny Compton loop where another reversal took place before the rest of the diagram was fulfilled. The sun did come out a little more strongly for a few seconds while 67023 was waiting to leave so I took the opportunity for a reasonably lit image as it stood under the bridge.
London Midland, who operate the suburban railway services throughout the West Midlands, are soon to replace their ageing and increasingly decrepit class 150 DMUs with new class 172/3 units. One of these, 172332 visited Stratford-upon-Avon for, I think, the first time on 15 March 2011 on a mileage accumulation and test run. The train is here seen arriving into platform 2 at Stratford as the usual arrival platform for trains from Birmingham, No.1, was under possession by a gang carrying out refurbishment work on the canopy. It is only within the past few months that train have been able to run directly into platforms 2 and 3, the required work having been carried out when the resignalling of the whole line took place late in 2010. It's a pity that the sun wasn't out at the time because it would have been in the perfect place for this move.
There was a turnround time of about ten minutes at Stratford-upon-Avon for 172332 before it retraced its tracks over the North Warwickshire Line to Tyseley, the main London Midland depot for the area. Here it is leaving the terminus with evidence of the work being carried out to the platform canopy and GWR footbridge, the latter having required the construction of a temporary footbridge so that passengers can access platforms 2 and 3. The corridor connection to be used when units are coupled will make revenue protection easier for the on-train staff and will generally increase the flexibility of the trains when compared to the existing class 150 DMUs.
Once 172332, as shown in the two pictures above, had returned to Tyseley on 15 March 2011 it was sent on another trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. The new unit is here seen passing Wilmcote station with its distinctive GWR footbridge and buildings before dropping down the 1/75 of Wilmcote Bank before having to wait outside the terminus for the 13.27 from Stratford to Stourbridge Junction to clear the crossover. The return of 172332 happened in an unfortunate patch of bright sunshine; unfortunate because at this time of day it is in exactly the wrong place for photography so I didn't bother with another picture.
A couple of engineering trains were scheduled to visit the station at Stratford-upon-Avon during the week commencing 10 February 2013. The first of these was 6P50, the 19.52 from Bescot to Bearley Junction where an overnight possession was in force. The train, with 66161 in charge, arrived at the terminus a few minutes early at 21.41 as soon as the final London Midland service of the day had left. It ran into platform 2 and once the locomotive had run round its load of five autoballasters I had plenty of opportunities for some time exposures. The relatively new station lights at Stratford are quite bright so very long exposures are not necessary but there are a lot of extraneous light sources, most noticeably the lamp-post apparently growing on the roof of 66161!
There have always been occasional excursions to Stratford for no other reason than to allow passengers to enjoy the historical aspects of the town or to simply enjoy a walk along the River Avon. This train, headed by 37418, came from Cardiff on 19 March 1994 and was organised by Regonal Railways. This day was notable in that a long-serving member of the station staff, Aubrey Wheeler, retired at the end of the afternoon shift and I was lucky enough to be invited into the staff room for a drink and to witness Aubrey's presentation by the Area Manager. I took advantage of the quiet spell outside to nip across the tracks and take this shot of the train standing on platform 3. Since then, the siding in the foreground has been lifted, this being done when the station area was resignalled.
An earlier visit to Stratford by 37418 was under more unusual circumstances. The locomotive hauled a private charter to mark the retirement of a senior executive from his post within an international oil company. As an added point of interest, 37418 was renamed "Gordon Grigg" before the train departed from Kensington Olympia on 11 March 2002 form whence it ran to Stratford where the guests alighted and were ferried to a hotel on the outskirts of the town for lunch. The ensemble is here seen stabled in platform 2 headed by the specially cleaned ETH machine.
Here is another view of 37418 at Stratford-upon-Avon showing the temporary nameplate, "Gordon Grigg", prior to the train's departure to London Paddington. A WR "bubble" car is about to enter the station forming a Leamington Spa to Stratford shuttle service. Sadly, the terminus currently has a very poor service to Leamington, just a basic 2 hourly train which manages to miss pretty much all of the Virgin Trains' connections both to the south and north. Perhaps with the change of franchise in 2007 this situation may change and Chiltern Trains will have some competition on the Leamington line with a consequent improvement in the service.
The mainline registered 40145 hauled a railtour from Castleton in Lancashire to Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday 1 October 2016. This was the first time that I had seen a member of the class here although while waiting for 1Z49's arrival was shown a picture of 40078 standing in the ertswhile goods loop on an Adex some years ago. I was mostly interested in taking an image of the train's arrival rather than anywhere else and as the day had been dull and wet thought that a shot from the new bridge as it ran into platform 2 would be the best bet. As I prepared to leave home for the short walk to the station the sun came out fully and stayed out when 172337 forming 2S42 from Stourbridge Junction arrived, also into platform 2 rather than its booked platform 1. This made me wonder if 40145 would go into P1 which, if the sun were out, would be absolutely spot on for the light. It didn't but the sun did find a small piece of cloud at just the right moment and so avoided one of those awful contre-jour pictures which tempt some into over-use of the shadows and highlights tool on Photoshop without altering the parameters governing the tonal width and radius of the settings resulting in very strange and over-processed-looking images. Given the circumstances I was reasonably happy with the result and noticed the faint rainbow in the right background only when uploading the image file.
An unadvertised charter operated by WCRC ran from Scarborough to Stratford-upon-Avon on 16 August 2016 with 57313, 6 mixed livery coaches and 57316 making up the consist. Although I knew that the sun would be a bit too straight at Stratford station at the arrival time of just before 13.00 the uninspiring colour scheme of the locomotives led me to save some petrol and just make the walk there for an arrival photograph. The train was booked to arrive into platform 2 which it did about 5 minutes early. The return to Scarborough was to run to Birmingham along the North Warwickshire but on a sunny day around 16.30 even half-decent locations are few and far between so I shan't bother.
Despite the procession of passenger trains to and from the West Country and South Wales, there were still freight services for the hard-pressed signalmen to fit in on the route through Stratford. Here is GWR 2-8-0 2883 from Tondu restarting a freight for Severn Tunnel Junction and passing through Stratford station. Virtually all down freights would have been routed into the down goods loop for watering and to get them out of the way of passenger trains and the rear of this train can be seen snaking onto the main line as it leaves the loop. There was less flexibility for up trains and if a faster service was approaching from behind, a freight would have had to have been propelled into the refuge siding by the West Box after running into the station to clear the appropriate points. These immensely powerful freight locomotives sounded magnificent when working hard although at this point 2883 would have been running very slowly until the last wagons had cleared the loop. Even then, it would have run cautiously as the gates of the Evesham Road crossing a little further south may not have been opened and the distant signal would probably still have been at caution. Brian Morrison
This photograph, also taken on 16 August 1958, shows 4968 Shotton Hall drawing to a halt at Stratford-upon-Avon with the 13.55 Paignton to Wolverhampton. The train would have drawn right to the end of the platform so that water could be taken, necessary because of the lack of water troughs both on the line from Cheltenham and the North Warwickshire line via Henley in Arden. If if had been routed via Hatton West and North Junctions this train would have passed over water troughs near Rowington, but I doubt it woould reached a sufficiently high speed after joining the GWR main line to have been able to have used them. A GWR 2-6-0 is visible in the cattle dock siding and this would have been ready either to pilot or bank the Wolverhampton-bound train, should it be over the weight limit for a single Hall on the climb to Wilmcote. if a pilot locomotive was taken, then its help would also have been appreciated on the 1/150 bank through Danzey on the North Warwickshire line. Judging by the aspect of the repeater signal poking over the top of the first coach, a southbound train is approaching. Brian Morrison
Going forward in time, here is a photograph of "Peak" class diesel 45020 leaving Stratford-upon-Avon with a train of empty coaching stock on 25 July 1984. If passengers had been on board, the train would have been required to shunt into platform 2 and would have left under the control of the tall upper quadrant starter visible to left of the lower quandrant inner home signal. This was because of the facing points at the end of platform 1 which have been clipped by the shunter just visible in the background. The details of the working are a little sketchy in my memory, but I think that the train was a Henley-in Arden to York advertised excursion and it had run to Stratford just so that the locomotive could run around the stock. I was standing on the World War II air-raid shelter which consisted of a large concrete pipe partially buried in the ground and covered with turf. This gave one a useful bit of extra height for a shot of something leaving the terminus in the morning and along with virtually everything else in the picture has now gone. The Ministry of Food cold store has been replaced by a Morrison's supermarket and the signalling, now of the 3 aspect electrical variety is controlled from Bearley Junction.
I always had a soft spot for the single unit "bubble cars" used for many years on the Stratford-upon-Avon to Leamington Spa trains. In the later years of its life, 50033 was repainted from the standard blue and grey into a livery based on the house colours of Midline, the marketing name for the Western MIdlands PTA. This picture shows the unit together with a class 114 two car set leaving Stratford with the 18.30 to Birmingham on 2 May 1994. The photograph was taken from the towing path of the local canal at a time when the vegetation had not encroached too much and the semaphore signalling was still in use. The train left from platform 1 which was controlled by the tall upper quadrant starter showing a clear aspect. Neither the single unit or the class 114 were to be seen here for much longer as their replacement, in the form of class 150 sprinters were coming into service. 645
In common with the rest of the railway network, Stratford-upon-Avon has the occasional visit from an inspection saloon. The date of this trip was 30 April 1992 and the saloon was hauled by 31405, named Mappa Mundi. I was expecting the train to be propelled out of the station the driver using the controls in the saloon, but on this occasion 31405 ran aound the coach and headed it back towards Birmingham. Use this hyperlink for a closer view of saloon 45026 standing in platform 1 while 31405 runs-round. This picture was taken from approximately the spot on the platform as that of Shotton Hall, shown above. Time has change the scene quite markedly in the intervening years.
A more modern diesel locomotive seen at Stratford on Sunday 15 February 2004. 60014 was on the back of a ballast train from Bescot, hauled by 66089, which spent most of the day sitting in platform 1. Despite my best endeavours, I failed to gain permission to enter the closed station and photograph it, and had to wait until Monday morning to try for a photograph. Unfortunately, the train was pulling out as I arrived on platform 2 and this is the best I could manage. I think that this was the first class 60 to have entered Stratford station, although other members of the class have been as far as Bearley Junction on overnight engineering trains. Here is a shot of 66089 taken from the Alcester Road bridge during the occupation. This picture clearly shows the arrangement here which enables the release of locomotives from visiting trains. The backdrop to this picture has changed during the first part of 2007. The offices have been demolished to make way for sheltered accomodation for the elderly.
Stratford-upon-Avon sees occasional test trains, sometimes locomotive hauled and sometimes formed of the Network Rail class 150 unit, 950001. On Thursday 9 January 2014 the latter worked a 2Q08 Tyseley to Derby via Stratford and as it was a sunny day I made my first photographic trip of 2014 by walking down down to the station to photograph 950001's arrival into platform 2. This image shows the unit drawing to a halt amidst various shadows prior to reversal and a trip to Hatton along the single track via Bearley Junction and Claverdon. The orange sheeting to the left of the train marks the site of a new bridge incorporating lifts for the use of disabled passengers. This will make a decent photograph of anything arriving in the terminus' platforms just about impossible. I should have thought that a better location for the new structure would have been adjacent to the Alcester Road bridge where disruption to operations when under construction would have been minimised and where users would have been under shelter for more of their trip to platforms 2 and 3.
The test train 2Q08 had run to Stratford-upon-Avon down the North Warwickshire Line via Henley-in-Arden and its next trip was to Hatton, back to Stratford and then along the North Warwickshire to Birmingham before visiting Round Oak. I hadn't planned for a second shot but watched the train's progress on RTT and saw that it had arrived, as booked, into platform 3 at Hatton. It didn't report again and I have no idea what happened: did it fail or go off route under another schedule? Anyway, it left Stratford on time and made for a challengingly backlit picture alongside a pair of London Midland class 172/2 units waiting to run to Stourbridge Junction via Hatton North Junction and Solihull.
Here is one of Hawksworth's modified Halls, 6986 Rydal Hall, shortly after leaving Stratford and passing the East Box having just crossed the Stratford-upon-Avon canal. This train was neither piloted or banked, which was quite unusual on Saturday evenings; there was a northbound train every few minutes in the peak hour between 6pm and 7pm and the assisting locomotive gave a bit of extra speed on the bank to Wilmcote, plus a bit of added security. Given the almost complete lack of exhaust from the locomotive, the evening of 16 August 1958 must been a hot one! To the left of the locomotive is a rake of maroon stock stabled in the siding alongside the Down Goods Loop, this appearing to be a short non-corridor set used on one of the local services perhaps to Honeybourne or Worcester. The gasholders were fed from the municipal gasworks, which was just out of site to the left of the picture. Regular trains of coal fed the works, there being a dedicated long siding from the yard. I can well remember the awful smell generated by the gasworks when my father and I fished in the canal; it was an unfortunate coincidence that the best fishing spots were close to the source of smell...Brian Morrison
Stratford-upon-Avon's locomotive shed, 84E, was a sub-shed of Tyseley. It was situated on the down side of the main line from which it had no direct connection. Access to the shed involved several reversal moves and must have been the bane of the crews' lives. There was no turntable at Stratford because of the existence of triangular junctions both at Old Town and Bearley, although the latter was the more frequently used. This photograph shpws 9F 92223 dead outside the shed on 16 August 1958. The presence of such a large engine here was unusual and I imagine that its presence was due to a failure of some sort. Plans currently exist locally for a new steam servicing and visitor facility to be built on roughly the site of the original to relieve some of the pressure from Tyseley and to enable the servicing of visiting locomotives. There are certain problems around vehicular access and egress to and from the site and the proposal may require its plans to be re-drawn to allow completion of the scheme. Brian Morrison
The line to the south of Stratford-upon-Avon was blessed with only one overbridge between the station and Long Marston, excluding where the Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway (SMJ) line crossed the GWR. The bridge was that carrying Sanctus Road, formerly Sancta Lane, near the site of the first station to reach the town from the south. This photograph of a three car Western Region suburban DMU forming the 6.03pm Stratford to Honeybourne was taken from this bridge on 23 May 1964. Most of the main line expresses had been diverted away from the line by this time but the local services continued as did both diverted passenger and freight trains. Clearly visible in the background is the 1960-built signalbox, protecting the Evesham Road level crossing. This new box also controlled the recently installed but soon-to-close curve from the SMJ used by freight services from the junction at Fenny Compton. I wonder if the guard is standing up to change the destination blind to the correct setting? Michael Mensing
The origin of this photograph is slightly mysterious. I found the print amongst a pile of family pictures taken my late father who although an accomplished photographer had no real interest in railways. I must assume that he took the shot whilst out for a walk and when he happened to have his folding camera, which took 9 pictures to a 120 roll, in his canvas bag. I still have the camera and have used it once, althought the maximum shutter speed of 1/100 was a little limiting. The lens is of excellent quality and as it likely that the train featured would be moving very slowly towards the Evesham Road level crossing after a signal check there is no noticeable blur. The date is unknown, but it is probably from the late 1950s when the signal box appearing on the left of the locomotive was still in use to control the spur round to the SMJ. Although it was a misty day, quite a lot of detail of the SMJ's buildings can be seen in the background. When the box here shown was replaced in 1960, the curve round to the SMJ was singled and became rarely used. The SMJ to the west of Stratford was closed at about the same time and the new "Racecourse Curve" was brought into use, as described below.
This earlier picture from Sanctus Road, shot on Sunday 12 October 1958, was taken from a slightly tighter angle than the one below and the GWR signalbox at the Evesham Road crossing is clearly visible. The train is the 09.00 Birmingham Snow Hill to Swansea High Street train formed of 3 x 3-car Cross-Country DMUs - very much the norm on some services at this date. Stratford's gas holders can just be made out over the signal on the up line protecting the crossing and the works supplying them can just be made out immediately to the right of the first telegraph post. The leading unit has had the "speed whisker" applied; this being an earlier version of the yellow warning panel and the later full yellow end designed to improve track safety for permanent way workers more used to a much noisier form of traction. In my opinion, these whiskers enhanced the look of the units and nicely contrasted with the green livery which, arguably, was the finest carried by any DMU. Michael Mensing
This picture dates from 30 July 1964 and shows the difference in the signalling layour near Sanctus Road once the 1960 signalbox was operational. The splitting bracket signal controlling the junction to the SMJ is now on the north side of the level crossing and, unusually, the arm showing that the road has been set for the SMJ is lowered, the train being routed to Fenny Compton via Kineton. The officers' inspection salon is hauled by small prairie tank No. 4165 which, by this time, had lost its smokebox number plate. It is apparent that some land has been sold in the left-hand background and a pair of semi-detached houses has been built on the site. R.J.Buckley
I can well imagine, and would enjoy, the outcry from photographers should a preserved locomotive carry a headboard such as this today! This marvellous picture was taken on Sunday 18 May 1958 and shows Modified Hall 7908 Henshall Hall shortly after leaving Stratford-upon-Avon with a Ramblers Association excursion from Birmingham Snow Hill to Gloucester. It was taken from the other side of Sanctus Road bridge than that from which the photograph of the DMU shown above was shot and the vegetation hides the older GWR-style signalbox that was still extant on this date. The splitting outer home signal controls the rarely used junction with the SMJ. This original junction was further to the north than the 1960 built curve and went round to the Old Town station in a northerly direction. Stratford-upon-Avon's GWR station had no turntable and it would have been possible to have used the triangular junction at Old Town to turn locomotives although, in my limited experience, the triangle which then existed at Bearley was more often used. Michael Mensing
This is the scene from the bridge over Sanctus Road on 7 February 2007, some 30 years after the railway was dismantled. It proved slightly more difficult than I envisaged to find some reference points from Michael's photograph of Henshall Hall and it was not possible to use an exactly similar angle because of the large silver birch tree. The row of cottages below the red crane is about the best reference although the row of Leylandii almost obscure them. The crane is working on a building site alongside the line immediately to the south of the station, almost opposite the viewpoint from which the first photograph in the section was taken. There are periodical letters in the Stratford-upon-Avon local newspaper demanding that the line here is re-opened, although for what purpose is not too clear. If one examines the layout of the roundabout in the background of this photograph, it is clear that space has been left for a single track railway to be constructed should it become strategically necessary.
This was the view looking south from the Sanctus Road overbridge on 25 May 1963. It shows a 3-car Swindon-built Cross-Country DMU forming the 13.25 Worcester Shrub Hill to Leamington Spa (General) heading north towards Stratford-upon-Avon. Just visible above the rear two cars is the connection to the SMJ's Old Town station, a loading gauge on an adjacent siding and a multitude of long-gone buildings. There was, until 1960, a signalbox controlling the junction with the SMJ at this location, but this was made redundant when the new Evesham Crossing Box was commissioned. The old box was switched out for much of the time, but was brought into use on summer Saturdays to form an additional block post in order to cope with the very heavy traffic on such days. It is interesting to note that the points working the junction were still manually operated; those used for the spur from the SMJ were power operated in view of the distances involved, but even so, the SMJ junction was quite a way from the box and it must have been a heavy pull for signalman. Michael Mensing
I have mentioned the Evesham Road Crossing Box in several of the captions to this section. Here is a photograph of the box taken after closure of the line south of Stratford-upon-Avon although before the signalling was dismantled. This is the 1960-built structure which replaced the earlier GWR building; the former box was much smaller and sat closer to the road than the new one. I have very fond memories of the road crossing here as it lay on my way to school from 1960 to 1971, although I never plucked up courage to ask if I might visit it. The gates were operated by the traditional capstan and I always hoped to see the signalman standing over the wheel carefully watching for a gap in the traffic as this meant that a train was imminent. There was a morning coal train which ran between 08.30 and 09.00 and I was just occasionally late for school when I had to wait for this to cross the road. I sometimes waited even if the gates were open when I arrived...Phil Trotter
Here is a closer view of the Evesham Road Crossing Box. In this picture the rods and cranks which operated the crossing gates can clearly be seen as can one or two signal wires. Although the line had been closed, the signalling was still intact at this time as occasional demolition trains were scheduled and these would would have occasioned the box to be be specially opened. This box was much larger than the previous one because it had to control the 1960-built connection from the SMJ to the GWR's Cheltenham line and therefore needed a larger frame. Unusually for 1960, the signalman here would not have been able to see the trains on this new curve; all movements were controlled by electrically operated points and signals, with track circuits giving the location of the trains. Phil Trotter
There is little to show that this is the same location as the picture of Evesham Road Crossing Box above. The only real reference point is the chimney in the top right hand corner; this belongs to a house just around the corner and it is a moot point whether the busy new road is more acceptable than the railway line to the owners of this property.
I mentioned above the 1960 curve built from the SMJ to the GWR Cheltenham line. Here is 6944 Fledborough Hall on the curve having just passed through the SMJ's Old Town station. Despite the limitations of a single track railway from Fenny Compton to Stratford-upon-Avon, this spur was heavily used for some 5 years after it was built. The route had value in that the stiff climb of Hatton Bank was avoided for northbound trains and it offered a more direct line for the iron ore trains from Banbury to South Wales. It was also valuable for any trains from the Oxford line needing access to the Cheltenham line as there was no direct connection between the two at Honeybourne. Any train running from Oxford to Cheltenham via Honeybourne would have had to make a long propelling move of almost a mile from Honeybourne station along the East Loop so that the locomotive was clear of the points by the East Loop signalbox. The train was then able to be routed over the junction to gain access to the Cheltenham line. The was clearly a procedure fraught with difficulty and which had the potential to cause delays and which was avoided by running from Fenny Compton to Stratford via the SMJ and the new spur. Michael Mensing
Turning around from the viewpoint used for the photograph above, here is 6944 going away under clear signals and about to join the GWR Cheltenham line. The junction was just to the south of the Racecourse platforms and the railings of this can just be made out to the right of the junction. It is interesting to note how close to the junction are the signals protecting it. These days, a much greater distance is required as a safety margin. It is very difficult to see any evidence of the line today; the main line is a popular walking and cycle path but all traces of the spur has gone. The site of the SMJ station has been obliterated by the building of modern housing and the trackbed has been used to construct a road to bypass the town for traffic coming from the Shipston-on-Stour direction. Michael Mensing
Going a little further south from the photograph above, here is one of the locomotives I saw more than most, Modified Hall 7918 Rhose Wood Hall, about to pass the platforms at Stratford-upon-Avon Racecourse which, on this day had been open for business. The train is the 17.45 Birmingham Snow Hill to Evesham service on 23 May 1964 with its usual load of six assorted carriages. The spur from the SMJ joins this line at the other end of the station and the footpath visible under the fourth coach is that to be seen behind the 3-car DMU in the picture of the northbound train taken from Sanctus Road. Michael Mensing
This is the view in the opposite direction from the one above on 23 May 1964. The northbound DMU, headed by single unit 55009 which was still in use in the area until withdrawal in the 1990s, is the 17.50 Worcester Shrub Hill to Stratford-upon-Avon. The train is passing through the Racecourse Station and the spur to the SMJ can be seen at the platform end and the splitting signal controlling the junction is visible above the third coach. The trackbed here is now a cycleway and footpath, but is very difficult to recognise any features to make an up-to-date comparison. Michael Mensing
This is the sad result of the derailment at Winchcombe which sounded the death knell of the line from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham. On 25 August 1976 one of the wagons, an ex-LNER vehicle, in a southbound coal train was derailed, with several others becoming involved and doing severe damage to the track. Although one of the tracks received work from BR engineers and was fit to be used, that decision had been made to close the line. In this view, the derailed wagons were yet to be removed as are the piles of track panels. Paul Shannon