Category Archives: Some Early Lines

Posts about lines and branches which ceased operations – some restored, some sadly lost for ever.

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Teign Valley Line

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Christow, Teign Valley Railway

Christow, Teign Valley Railway

Teign Valley Railway

This line, authorised on 13 July 1863 in broad gauge between Bovey Tracey and Doddiscombesleigh, needed nine Acts before it finally opened on 9 October 1882, standard gauge between Heathfield (South Devon & Moretonhampstead Railway) and Ashton. An extension to Teign House, Christow was opened later. The line was built under GWR protection (the L&SWR had expressed interest), and the GWR worked it, despite its isolation, until the conversion of the SD&MR to standard gauge (23 May 1892). Ashton station had a timber platform and a raised causeway for access when the River Teign flooded, and the site of Chudleigh station is now beneath the A38 trunk road. The Exeter Railway gave the line a link to Exeter in 1903. The last passenger train ran on 7 August 1958, the last goods to Christow on 1 May 1961, the line closing completely on 4 December 1967.

Heathfield Junction,Devon. 1970

Heathfield Junction,Devon. 1970

Rosser1954 Devon, England. Licensing:  I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Furness Railway and Furness & Midland Joint Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Furness Railway and Furness & Midland Joint Railway

RavenglassThe Furness Railway had a more attractive furniture motif than many lines. Its squirrel lives on in this seat from Millom, now at the Ravenglass terminus of the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. (P.van Zeller)

Furness Railway

Seen as a link between Barrow and mines at Lindal, the company was incorporated on 23 May 1844. There was also a 3ft 2¼in gauge line to a slate quarry at Kirkby. Despite poetic fury from Wordsworth, the line progressed well, to be in use by 3 June 1846 and officially opened on 12 August. An extension from Kirkby to Broughton was opened in late February 1848. The discovery of enormous deposits of haematite at Park, north of Barrow, in 1850 made the company one of the most prosperous of its time. A national slump after 1870 prompted thoughts of sale to the Midland Railway in 1875, but a change of emphasis from goods to tourists kept the company successful until the outbreak of the First World War. Absorption of smaller companies extended its system, until by 1918 it owned 428¾ track miles, including sidings. The company remained independent until the Grouping.

Borwick Furness & Mid JtBorwick, on the Furness & Midland Joint Railway. The station (right distance) was built before the railway: when the line arrives, it passed 50 yards to the south-east, and a second station (foreground) had to be built. (Andrew C.Ingram)

Furness & Midland Joint Railway

A link between Wennington (Midland Railway) and Carnforth (Furness Railway) was suggested by the Midland Railway which wanted a share in the rich iron ore traffic from Furness, and offered boat-train traffic to Barrow in exchange. The London & North Western Railway, which had hitherto controlled the FR at both ends, opposed, but a company was incorporated on 22 June 1863, running powers over the FR making life easier for the LNWR. The 9¾ mile line, financed jointly by the two companies and managed by a Joint Committee, opened for goods on 10 April 1867, and to passengers on 6 June. It crossed the LNWR north of Carnforth to a station on the west, a curve leading into the northern side of the LNWR station. The company remained independent until the Grouping.

Furness railway No.20

Furness Railway No.20

The Furness Railway Trust

The Furness Railway Trust – with assets like 1863-built Furness Railway Number 20 and the ex Furness and North London Railway coach – is also working to keep the memory of the Furness Railway alive.

The FRT owns Britain’s oldest working standard gauge steam locomotive, Furness Railway Number 20, GWR duo 0-6-2T 5643 and 4979 “Wootton Hall”, Austerity “Cumbria” and our vintage train.
We are based in the North West of England but our locomotives and carriages are found at heritage railway sites nationwide.
Our fund-raising and your support keeps us going. Why not Gift Aid a donation?!

1663 FR Axle boxFurness Railway Axle Box – in the Chasewater Railway Museum Collection

05069 FR,M&CR,GER, Paddy Train at Pool Pits Junction 24-2-1951Carriages from the Great Eastern Railway, the Maryport & Carlisle Railway and Furness Railway making up the Cannock & Rugeley Colliery ‘Paddy’ train, taken at Pool Pits Junction, Hednesford 24-2-1951


Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Mid-Wales Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Mid-Wales Railway

Mid Wales Railway RhyaderRhayader (Mid-Wales Railway) lost its train service (officially) on 31 December 1962, an event perhaps foreshadowed by the right-hand poster on the end wall, headed ‘TRANSPORT ACT’ which was possibly giving notice of closure. Prospects for the station seemed as dismal as the weather.


Llanidloes StnLlanidloes station, with southbound Mid-Wales line train
View northward, towards Moat Lane Junction: ex-Cambrian Railway Mount Lane – Builth – Three Cocks line. Back in 1949, ex-Cambrian or ex-GW 0-6-0’s worked most of the traffic on this line, which was closed on 31/12/62 although goods traffic continued as far as Llanidloes until 4/5/64. No. 2483 is a GW ‘Dean Goods’ 0-6-0 (built 5/1896, withdrawn 9/52).
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The line was authorised in two sections – the Northern end, Llandiloes-Llandovery, on 1 August 1859, the Southern length (Newbridge-on-Wye to Three Cocks) on 3 July 1860. The Company also gained control of the Three Cocks – Talyllyn section, hitherto owned by the HH&BR. The first sod was cut in a downpour on 2 September, but further work on the 46.75 miles was delayed until 1862. Formal opening took place on 23 August 1864, and the line opened to goods on 1 September. The Company worked the HH&BR while that company was sorting out its ‘illegal’ amalgamation with the B&MTJR, but then had money trouble. Locomotives and rolling stock were sold, WA with the Cambrian Railway were signed, with effect from 2 April 1888, and vesting followed from 24 June 1904. The line was used intensively for coal traffic going north to Scapa Flow during the Great War.

Three cocks JnThree Cocks Junction Station, with Hereford – Brecon train
View NE, towards Hereford to the right by the ex-Midland line; ahead to the left the ex-Cambrian Mid-Wales Line joined from Moat Lane Junction via Builth Wells and both continued to Brecon – to the left. The train from Hereford is headed by ex-Midland 3F 0-6-0 No. 43600.
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Mid-Wales Railway (MWR) was an early railway company operating in Mid-Wales. It was a constituent part of the Cambrian Railways.
Parliament had authorised both the MWR and the Manchester and Milford Railway to connect Llanidloes to Aberystwyth, and so the M&MR had prioritised construction in the Llanidloes area. Eventually an agreement was reached to form the joint Llanidloes and Newtown Railway, which extended 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south to Pentrabane junction, where the MWR and M&MR’s short-lived Llangurig branch diverged. The L&NR opened its line in 1859, enabling through working to and from the MWR line.

EPSON scanner imageBuilth Road (Low Level) Station
View SE, towards Three Cocks Junction and Brecon; ex-Cambrian, Mid-Wales line, Brecon – Three Cocks Junction – Moat Lane Junction. The station and the line throughout were closed completely on 31/12/62, but the goods yard here remained connected to the High Level line until 6/9/65.
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The MWR worked the line of the Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway from 1 October 1868 until that company was taken over by the Midland Railway on 1 October 1869. The line from Builth Road to Llandovery was not built, but a connection to the Central Wales Extension Railway was completed on 1 November 1866, enabling goods trains to run to and through that station.
At Brecon, following the initial opening of three separate stations, a joint station was created at Free Street.
At Llanidloes railway station, the grand junction building that was created in anticipation of M&MR traffic which never materialised, since the Mid Wales Railway never completed their section of the Llangurig – Strata Florida – Aberystwyth line.

Rhayader_stationRhayader station, Powys, shortly before closure in 1962

3 January 2010 – Flying Stag  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway

The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway (N&MR) was a short railway created to allow the Oswestry and Newtown Railway and the Mid-Wales Railway access the Mid-Wales market town of Machynlleth, from their communal station at Newtown, Powys. Crossing the River Severn and the Cambrian Mountains, completed in 1863 it became part of the Cambrian Railways system in 1864.

Machynlleth StationMachynlleth station still sports much that is original on 28 May 1988, though as this picture was taken came news that it was for sale. The train shown had arrived late after a breakdown, and, having terminated, was about to return to Euston. (Allan Mott)

In July 1864 the line was absorbed into the Cambrian Railways. Cambrian Railways were absorbed by the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922 as a result of the Railways Act 1921, and became part of British Railways in 1948.
There was an accident in the Talerddig cutting on 18 January 1921, of which several pictures survive. Hence, even since the first track rationalisation of the line during the 1970s, there remains to this day a passing loop on this single track line at the site of Talerddig station, retained in the need to “pin down” the brakes on freight trains over the summit, and now a critical operational node for passing passenger trains.[4]
Talerddig cutting
A significant civil engineering achievement on the line is the Talerddig cutting through solid rock. With a depth of 120 feet (37 m), it was the deepest cutting in the world at the time of its completion in 1862. For safety reasons, the original near-vertical sides have since been trimmed back. cutting
The means by which the Newtown and Machynlleth Railway (which became a constituent of the Cambrian Railways) breached the Cambrian Mountains to head for the coast. Compared with SH9200 : Railway Cutting at the summit of Talerddig bank there’s been some extensive regrowth.
© Copyright Nigel Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Today, after the closure during the Beeching Axe of much of the former-Cambrian system, the entire length of the N&MR remains open as part of Network Rail’s Cambrian Line, operated by the Class 158 DMUs of Arriva Trains Wales.

1024px-Machynlleth_Station_with_eastbound_local_train_geograph-2545274-by-Ben-BrooksbankMachynlleth Station with eastbound local train
View westward, down the Dovey Valley towards Dovey Junction, then Aberystwyth/Barmouth and Pwllheli. The locomotive is one of the first Churchward ‘4500’ 2-6-2T, No. 4501 (built 11/06 as No. 2162).
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Newtown StationNewtown: station buildings
The main station buildings on the Up (eastbound) platform at Newtown / Y Drenewydd.  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway

Dean Forest RlyA substantial stone overbridge near Drybrook (Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway). This section opened on 4 November 1907, but closed 0n 7 July 1930. Note the bridge-rail fencing, still extant in August 1988.

This was incorporated on 13 July 1871 to extend the Bullo Pill Railway ( an early British railway, completed in 1810 to carry coal mined in the Forest of Dean Coalfield to a port on the River Severn near Newnham, Gloucestershire. It was later converted to a broad gauge steam line by the Great Western Railway, and was closed in the 1960s) to the Hereford, Ross & Gloucester (both qv) at Mitcheldean Road, 4.75 miles away. Heavy engineering was involved and the line was never finished, despite the company’s absorption by the GWR under an Act dated 6 August 1880. The first 1.75 miles to Speedwell opened in July 1885, and to Drybrook on 4 November 1907, but the rest, though built and maintained, was not. Unused track went for scrap in 1917.
The Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway (MR&FoDJR) was a railway which ran for 3 1⁄4 miles (5.2 km) from the former Mitcheldean Road railway station on the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway to a junction at Whimsey near Cinderford.
On 6 August 1880 the company was acquired by the Great Western Railway which completed the line but never opened it to traffic.
The line was later lifted beyond Drybook, although a small section between Drybrook Halt and Drybrook Quarry was relaid in 1928. Drybrook Halt was the northern terminus of a GWR railmotor service from Newnham which ran from 1907 to 1930. The line was closed again in 1952.
A short section of the trackbed at the northern end is used by the narrow gauge Lea Bailey Light Railway.

Loop and Shed at Lea Bailey Light Railway

Loop and Shed at Lea Bailey Light Railway

The Lea Bailey Light Railway is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in the United Kingdom. It is built on the site of a former gold mine which was started by the Chastan Syndicate in 1906. Having sold 75,000 shares at £1 GBP each, test workings at Lea Bailey and nearby Staple Edge concluded that the small amount of gold present could not be extracted economically. The syndicate was wound up in 1908.
The mine was later extended and some 3000 tons of iron ore were extracted — a small amount compared to the 150,000 tons extracted from the nearby Wigpool Ironstone Mine.
An attempt was made in 2003 by the owners of Clearwell Caves to open the mine as a tourist attraction, but this was ultimately unsuccessful. In 2012, a small group from the Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club discovered the mine and a quantity of disused railway equipment and proposed to the owners that a volunteer-led project could start work on restoring the site. As of 2014, two locomotives and a number of wagons have been moved to Lea Bailey from storage at Clearwell Caves or the nearby Hawthorn Tunnel.
In 2013 the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society was formed; its members act as volunteers, undertaking all aspects of work on the site. A regular free newsletter is produced and sent out by e-mail.

Lea Bailey Railway

Lea Bailey Railway

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway

Some Early Lines
Old Railway Companies
Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway

GWR supported, the Company was authorised on 27th July, 1846 to build about 8 miles of railway from Gloucester to Grange Court Junction, with a 7.5 mile extension to Awre (SWR). The Gloucester – Grange Court section was opened on 19th September, 1851 and leased in perpetuity to the GWR from the opening day. When money ran out, the SWR built the Awre extension, and the GWR a branch to Llanthony, Gloucester, opened on 20th March, 1854. The line remained broad gauge until 1869, and the Company was absorbed by the GWR under an Act of 30th June, 1874.

This line is open. It runs from Grange Court to Gloucester. It connected together the Cheltenham and Great Western Railway and the South Wales Railway.

Oakle St PicOakle St Text

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Berkshire & Hampshire Railway + ext

Some Early Lines
Old Railway Companies
Berkshire & Hampshire Railway + ext

Although nominally independent (incorporated on 30th June, 1845). The Company was backed by the GWR, which absorbed it by an Act of 14th May,1846. It continued the GWR’s Newbury branch to Hungerford and a 13.5 mile line ran from Southcote Junction, Reading, to a separate station at Basingstoke. Opening from Reading to Hungerford was on 21st December, 1847, and to Basingstoke on 1st November, 1848. Broad gauge to begin with, authority to ‘adapt the broad gauge’ was obtained on 21st June 1873. It was extended to Devizes as the Berkshire & Hampshire Extension Railway.
This line was authorised on13th August,1859 to extend the Berkshire & Hampshire Railway along the Kennet Valley for another 24.5 miles from Hungerford to Devizes. It was opened on 11th November, 1862 and absorbed by the GWR on 10th August, 1882, having been further extended to the WS & WR at Westbury under Authority of 28th June, 1866.

Berks & Hants Ext PicBerks & Hants Ext Text

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Helston Railway

Some early Lines – Old Railway Companies

Helston Railway

Gwinnear Rd PicGwinnear Rd Text

Locally promoted, and sanctioned on 9th July, 1880, this 8 miles 67 chains line between Gwinnear Road and Helston required extension of time and extra capital (31st July, 1885) before completion. It was opened on 9th May, 1887, and is notable mainly for the fact that the first GWR buses ran in connection with it. A Light Railway Order for extension to the Lizard was obtained, but buses saved the £85,000 expense of building it; they began running on 17th August, 1903, the Company having been absorbed by the GWR five years earlier, under an Act of 2nd August, 1898.

The first road motor car run by the GWR - Heston - Lizard service, 1903

The first road motor car run by the GWR – Heston – Lizard service, 1903

The Helston Railway Preservation Society was the result, 10 years ago, of a vision by a small number of enthusiasts to re-open a section of the Helston branch line.
We now have a 1000 members!
Winner of the Heritage Railway of the Year Award & the HRA Website Award
Please browse our website and learn more about our wonderful project.

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Hayle Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Hayle Railway

Portreath Incline PicPortreath Incline Text

Slightly unusual in that the line was authorised (27-6-1834), and the company named afterwards, this was a standard gauge line between Hayle and Tresaveen (Gwennap) – 12 miles, with 5 miles of branches. The Portreath branch opened first, for goods on December 23rd, 1837 (passengers in 1841). With Carn Brea Mines –Redruth (goods) on 11th June, 1838, Redruth – Hayle (passenger) 23rd May, 1843. The Portreath arm did such business with ore and coal that it needed enlarging in 1846. The passenger service on the main line was operated by William Crotch, but he soon passed the responsibility to the Railway. Part of the main line became incorporated into the Paddington – Penzance line, via the W. Cornwall Railway, which absorbed the company on 3rd December, 1846. Regular traffic to Portreath ceased about 1930, and the line closed officially from 1st April, 1938.

Some Early Lines – The Folkestone Harbour Branch (A bit more!)

Some Early Lines
The Folkestone Harbour Branch
(A bit more!)

Gas Lamp

A unique line on the Southern Region was the Folkestone Harbour Branch where South Eastern Railway 0-6-0 tank locomotives worked boat trains up the very steep, but short, line to Folkestone Junction. Trains were rostered to have three or sometimes four locomotives, usually two at the front and two at the back, but sometimes triple heading occurred. Here No.31174, built in 1892 and withdrawn in 1959, is leading a train through Folkestone’s gas-lit streets, devoid of motor cars.

3 locos

South Eastern Railway R1 0-6-0Ts lined up at Folkestone Junction ready for action on a continental boat train. Notice the unusual parallel track layout, left of the locomotives, for a weighbridge. The locomotive shed is on the right-hand side and is now defunct. The locomotives are Nos.31407, 31174 and 31337, all built at Ashford as R class 0-6-0s and rebuilt as R1s under the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. The front and rear locomotives were the last of this famous class to be scrapped at Ashford in 1960. !959 saw the replacement of these engines by GWR pannier-tank locomotives.

Before elec
The Folkestone Harbour Branch before electrification, with R1 class 0-6-0Ts giving the all-pullman Golden Arrow a shove from the rear en route for Folkestone Junction (now Folkestone East). No.31047 was built at Ashford in 1895, rebuilt to R1 class in 1913, and withdrawn in March 1960, being replaced by pannier-tank locomotives in 1959.