Some Early Lines
Cleobury Mortimer and Ditton Priors Light Railway
The Cleobury Mortimer and Ditton Priors Light Railway was a pre-grouping railway company that served part of south Shropshire
Everard Calthrop was appointed Consulting Engineer in 1900, responsible for surveying the route and preparing the construction plans, and the line opened in 1908. The line had a junction with the Wyre Forest line of the Great Western Railway (GWR) at Cleobury Mortimer and was absorbed into the GWR in 1922.
After 30 years of passenger services, the line closed just before the start of World War ll. The line was then used by the Royal Navy which had a Royal Navy Armaments Depot (RNAD) at the end of line outside Ditton Priors. The railway finally closed in 1960.
Cleobury Mortimer – Cleobury Town – Stottesdon – Burwarton – Ditton Priors. An extension was proposed, running east from Stottesdon to Billingsley. Three possible extensions were proposed from Ditton Priors: east to Bridgnorth; north east to Coalport; north to Presthope (near Much Wenlock). None of the extensions was actually built.
The railway’s course runs parallel with the Severn Valley Railway, which lies to the east of it. The junction was Cleobury Mortimer which lay on the GWR’s Tenbury Wells-Bewdley line. Ditton Priors, appeared on the railway map at a rather late stage, the line was not opened until 1908. Originally the line was worked by two Manning, Wardle 0-6-0STs. The line was absorbed into the GWR at the Grouping in 1922. The main freight traffic was stone from the quarries in this part of the Clee Hills. Passenger traffic ceased in 1938, and goods in 1939. However, the railway was not yet set to disappear into oblivion. At the outbreak of World War II a Royal Naval Armament Depot was opened at Ditton Priors, ensuring the line’s survival into the 1960s. At this stage the pannier tank steam locomotives were fitted with their distinctive ‘balloon stack’ spark arresters. The RNAD also had diesel locomotives of its own.An MOD Ruston & Hornsby diesel shunter passes through Cleobury Town Station on 26 March, 1965, less than two months before the old CM & DPLR closed completely. Andrew Muckley.
The line had two locomotives, both 0-6-0 saddle-tanks built by Manning Wardle and these became GWR numbers 28 and 29. They were rebuilt by the GWR with new boilers and pannier tanks, after which they bore a strong resemblance to the GWR 1366 Class. Other locomotives used on the line included GWR 2021 Class nos. 2101 and 2144 and GWR 1600 Class no.1661.The CM & DPLR’s two locos were identical Manning Wardle 0-6-0STs, Cleobury and Burwarton. They were absorbed by the GWR at the Grouping, renumbered 28/29 and fitted with pannier tanks. Bucknall Collection/Ian Allan Library
After its ‘Swindonisation’, ex CM & DPLR loco Cleobury was hardly recognisable. As GWR No.28 it hauls a typical mixed train on the Ditton Priors branch. Lens of Sutton.
Former GWR 0-6-0PT No.2144 at the head of an ammunition train fro Ditton Priors, attacks the 1 in 66 gradient through Burwarton Station on 23 February, 1954. The spark arrester was an essential safeguard for such workings. Geoffrey F. Bannister.
Following the opening of the RNAD at Ditton Priors, the steam locomotives were fitted with spark arrestors but, after the arrival of RNAD diesel locomotives, they did not enter the armaments depot. The steam locomotive was taken off the goods train at Cleobury North (just south of Ditton Priors) and the wagons were drawn into the depot by an RNAD diesel locomotive.
Three “flameproof” diesel locomotives of 165 bhp were supplied to RNAD Ditton Priors by Ruston and Hornsby between 1952 and 1955. A similar machine Francis Baily of Thatcham (ex-RAF Welford ) is preserved at Southall Railway Centre. Before the Rustons, a Planet diesel locomotive is believed to have been used but its dates of arrival and departure are not known.