Some Early Lines – Railways Around Titley, Herefordshire

Some Early Lines

Railways around Titley, HerefordshireG.F.Bannister

Leominster and Kington Railway was one of four branches which served the Welsh Marches border town of Kington, Herefordshire.

1420 at Titley Junction after a trip up the Presteigne branch in August 1964.  B.J.Ashworth

Opened in August 1857, its peak was during World War II, when it served two US Army hospitals. Decling post war due to competition from buses, it closed to passengers in 1955, and freight from 1964.

Today, a 1 mile (1.6 km) section is preserved at Titley Junction railway station.

Proposed in 1853, the company was formed by William Bateman-Hanbury, 2nd Baron Bateman of Shobdon Court. It received Royal Assent as a broad gauge line in July 1854, subject to provision for a junction with the standard gauge Kington and Eardisley Railway be provided.

A delightful rural picture of the Kington – Presteigne goods in August 1964, a month before its demise.  B.J.Ashworth

On 14 November 1854 the company agreed the offer of Thomas Brassey and William Field to construct the line for £70,000. Further, they would work from opening and pay the shareholders a 4% dividend per annum. Engineered by David Wylie of Shrewsbury, Lady Bateman cut the first sod at Kington, with a silver spade into a special built barrow that can be seen preserved today at the Leominster Folk Museum. Section from the Leominster railway station of the Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway to Pembridge, opened for goods traffic on the 18th October, 1855, at a cost of £7,000 per mile.

The Kington branch was single throughout and worked by electric train staff between the main line junction and the original 1857 terminus.  The New Radnor and Presteigne sections operated with train staff and ‘one engine in steam’.  GWR 0-6-0PT 7416 approaches the road crossing at Kingsland with the daily goods returning from Kington in August 1956.  The single platform with station building and small signal box was on the up side and beyond lay a small goods yard and siding.  G.F.Bannister

But, with additional costs, the company was struggling, and in April 1856 Brassey and Field, who held £20,000 or one quarter of the company’s stock, advanced the company £10,000 at 5%. The second section from Pembridge to Kington opened in August 1857. There were no tunnels or viaducts on the entire single track line of 13 miles 25 chains (21.4 km) in length, which had cost £80,000 to construct.

Inspected by Colonel Yolland for the Board of Trade on the 22nd July, 1857, a certificate authorising the opening was withheld because a level crossing had been built at Pembridge instead of the overbridge authorised by the Act of Parliament.

Eventually, it was agreed to open the line under a temporary order, subject to retrospective application and government approval of the level crossing. The line opened on Tuesday July 28, 1857, with a train consisting of 32 coaches and 2 engines travelling from the joint GWR/LNWR station at Leominster to Kington, stopping briefly at all stations along the line. When they reached Kington, the directors retired to the Oxford Arms Hotel, where with 300 guests then Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Hastings CB presided over lunch. The return journey was completed with diner for the same 300 guests at the Royal Oak Hotel, Leominster, presided over by Lord Bateman. Bateman remained chairman for 22years, and had a private station built at Ox House.

Bullock’s Mill Crossing, September 1964, 1420 is returning to Hereford from Kington.  B.J.Ashworth

In 1862 the line was leased to the West Midland Railway, which taken over by the Great Western Railway, amalgamated the line on 1 July 1898. This meant that by 1874 a journey from Kington to Leominster took 40 minutes, to Hereford 1 hour 20 minutes, and to Shrewsbury 3 hours and 30 minutes.

As the line was rural, and based in the Welsh Marches farm district, the main revenue was earned from transporting goods to the various markets. Sheep and cattle which had been driven to Kington on the various drovers trails, were now transported to their original destination of Hereford by train. Often on market days, seven or eight cattle trucks were attached to the Hereford bound passenger service, specifically for bull transportation.

Titley Junction was the busiest intermediate station on the line with up to 30 trains a day passing through. It was the connection point for the LK&R with the Kington and Eardisley Railway south to the Hay Railway, and the L&KR’s own line to Presteigne.

When the line was extended to New Radnor in 1875 the old L&KR station of 1857 was abandoned in favour of a completely new structure built on the north side.  In this view, the locomotive of the Presteigne branch freight takes water from a column adjacent to the line leading to the old station, long since converted to a goods depot.  Two wagons of coal and a van full of animal foodstuffs make up the load of the day on 11th April 1956.  G.F.Bannister

After completion of this extension, the K&ER extended north from Kington to a small station at New Radnor, in the hope of completing a cross-Wales mainline to Aberystwyth, but this never happened.

A GWR pannier tank arrives at Presteigne with the daily goods from Kington on 11 April 1956.  After the cessation of passenger services the whole system required the leisurely attention of one train per day with a locomotive provided by Hereford shed.  In the years prior to 1951, two engines and three crews were allocated to the small sub-shed at Kington, sufficient to cover all passenger turns.  The GWR Appendix to the Working Timetables stressed the importance of anticipating bad weather conditions by the operating staff on the branches under the heading ‘SNOW STORMS’.  Kington acted as the control centre for coordinating action – ‘If snow falls on Saturday and Sunday, gangers must proceed to their station and communicate with Kington.  The Station Master must arrange to run a light engine over the branch…’  G.F.Bannister

The Kington & Presteigne Railway opened on 9 September 1875. Commencing at Titley Junction, it passed through Leen farm, to Staunton-on-Arrow, in front of the Rodd farm via Corton into Presteigne.  By 1929 it was possible to join one of the three steam trains a day – each way – and make the 6 hour journey to London. The passenger service on this line ended in 1951, but a freight service continued to run every other day until the line was finally closed for good in 1961.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nowadays, Titley Junction station has been lovingly restored, and its owners have relaid one mile of the branch to Kington, making this the longest privately owned railway in Herefordshire. Group visits can be organised by prior arrangement, but casual visitors cannot always be accommodated.

Pic by Railway Ramblers

Entrance to Titley Junction Station (long disused).

© Copyright Peter Evans and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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3 responses to “Some Early Lines – Railways Around Titley, Herefordshire

  1. A great little item thanks for posting.

  2. Pingback: Herefordshire Railways 2 | Roger Farnworth

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