Not to be confused with the ‘old’ Midland and South Western Junction Railway, the original name of the Dudding Hill Line in London (authorised 1864, absorbed by the Midland Railway 1874). The two railways have no other connection.
The Midland and South Western Junction Railway (M&SWJR) was, until the 1923 Grouping an independent railway built to form a north-south link between the Midland and London and South Western Railways (LSWR) allowing the Midland and other companies’ trains to reach the port of Southampton.
The M&SWJR was formed in 1884 from the amalgamation of the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway and the Swindon and Cheltenham Extension Railway.
The Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway was incorporated in 1873 and opened in three stages:
- Swindon to Marlborough, 27 July 1881
- Grafton to Andover, 1 May 1882
- the complete line from Swindon to Andover was opened on 5 February 1883, by running trains over the Great Western Railway’s Marlborough branch and a section of the Berks & Hants Extension Railway, as the SM&AR was unable to complete its own line between Marlborough and Grafton.
The Swindon & Cheltenham Extension Railway (S&CER)
The S&CER was incorporated in 1881 and its line was opened that year from Swindon to Cirencester, but financial difficulties halted further construction.
Completion of the line
After the two railways amalgamated, the original intention of the S&CER to reach Cheltenham was realised in 1891, albeit by obtaining running powers over the final 7.5 miles (12 km) from a junction at Andoversford over GWR metals to reach the Midland Railway station at Cheltenham (Lansdown).
In 1892 the M&SWJR secured running powers over the LSWR Sprat and Winkle Line between Andover and Southampton; from then onwards through workings were operated for trains from the Midlands and beyond: Bradford, Manchester and Liverpool were all connected via the line with Southampton at various times over the following years.
The final section of the line to be built was the missing link between Marlborough and Grafton. The Marlborough and Grafton Railway was incorporated in 1893 and the line was opened in 1898; the M&SWJR took formal ownership of the Marlborough and Grafton Railway in 1899.
The success of the line was partly hampered by the GWR’s demand of high fees for connections with its metals at Marlborough and Swindon. The original plan to run shuttles between the M&SWJR’s Swindon Town railway station and the GWR’s Swindon Junction station lasted only a couple of years before being abandoned as too expensive. This meant M&SWJR passengers had to disembark at Swindon Old Town station and travel by road to the GWR station approximately one-and-a-half miles away. At Marlborough, until the M&SWJR built its own line south of the town, the GWR insisted that any passengers wanting to change to its trains at Savernake Low Level station had to travel south from Marlborough on the GWR’s branch line.Swindon Marlborough & Andover Railway Single Fairlie 0-4-4T of 1878.
Most locomotives were bought from Dubs & Co. (and its successor theNorth British Locomotive Companyand from Beyer Peacock..
At the Grouping in 1923 the railway became a part of the GWR. At this time the M&SWJR owned 29 locomotives, 134 coaching vehicles, and 379 goods and service vehicles.
The M&SWJR today
- A short length has been re-opened as the Swindon & Cricklade Railway
- The M4 Motorway has been built over a short section of the route between Chiseldon and Swindon.
- Station Industrial Estate now occupies the site of the Old Town station.
- National Cycle Network route 45 uses a large proportion of the trackbed between Cricklade and Marlborough .
- A short length, Andover-Red Post Junction-Ludgershall, remains open to serve the military depot at Tidworth.
- There have been talks in recent years of a reopening of the Andover to Ludgershall part of the line to serve the growing town and the expanding military base.From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia