Tag Archives: Much Wenlock

Chasewater Railway Museum News – A couple of old photographs

ChasewaterRailwayMuseum News

 A couple of old photographs

5818 - Works SidingsThe first one is a photograph of the ‘Works Siding’ notice in situ in the old Brownhills West yard.  Also in the photo is the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincoln carriage, looking quite smart considering it was kept outside in those days.  Now the notice is standing on the hand-pump truck outside the museum.


The other photograph is of Much Wenlock  station. Much Wenlock StationThis one comes from a selection of paperwork and photographs from David Ives – a long-time Board member.  On the reverse of the photo are two Newspaper articles in small, very neat hand-writing, which I have reproduced here.

Much Wenlock Station Picture reverse

December 1895 – The Wellington Journal

During the railway mania the heart of Dr. Brookes was stirred to the very depths.  He saw lines after lines projected and schemes of railways propounded in all sorts of directions, some merely speculative, others ‘bona fide’, and he wooed in vain the great companies to look in the direction of Wenlock, but the most reckless stood aghast at the steep gradients and the abrupt curves to be encountered in climbing the hill; besides, several companies gave the project the greatest opposition.  Ultimately, mainly through the unwearied exertions of Mr. Blakaway, the Town Clerk, aided and seconded by Dr. Brookes and his brother, Dr. Q.G.Brookes, who became Chairman of the Company, and continued so till his death, these efforts were crowned with success, and the hitherto isolated town of Much Wenlock found itself in communication with the productive district of Corvedale and Ludlow on one side, and Coalbrookdale, Wellington and Birmingham on the other.  The line is 16 miles in length, the gradients, the greatest of which is from 1 in 40 to 1 in 45, are not so great at this time of day as to frighten anybody.  If anyone travelling that way is struck with the beauty of Wenlock station, its rocky pile on the Abbey side, studied with flowers, rare plants and shrubs, asks, as many do, who was the author of so much beauty, he is told – Dr. Brookes.

July 1962 ‘The Last Train’ The Birmingham Post

 Engine No. 4406 is not the most glamorous of railway locomotives and there was nothing spectacular about the two coaches which it pulled from Wellington to Craven Arms and back again on Saturdays.  The majority of passengers from Wellington alighted at Much Wenlock, and on the return journey only one ticket was issued at the booking office at Craven Arms.

Yet this was one occasion when the rather elderly engine and the empty carriages could have been fêted along the 14 miles between Craven Arms and Much Wenlock, for it was the last journey to be made along this line, which was opened in 1867.  But in its demise the Craven Arms to Much Wenlock line aroused as little interest as it had attracted custom these latter years – and that lack of custom is the reason for its closure.  The one ticket issued at Craven Arms was for Mr. J.F.Anstey, the District Commercial Superintendent, who was there to give official recognition to the last journey.  There was another railwayman or two, one or two returning passengers and a party of railway enthusiasts from Birmingham and District – for Birmingham took a greater interest in the closing of the line than did Shropshire.

There was no ceremony at Craven Arms.  Driver Joe Watkins looked down the platform at Guard Dick Davies.  There was a wave and the driver said to his passengers: ‘Well, I suppose we had better be off.’ And off we went, with Driver Watkins taking the train along the single track as he had done for twenty-odd years.  Beside him, shovelling coal into the furnace was Fireman Tony Falkner.  At Much Wenlock Mr. K.Carpenter was there, also Mr. D.Luscombe of Northfield, Mr. D.Woodhouse of Smethwick, Mr. Tandy and Mr. R.T.Russell

Much WenlockGWR 4406 2-6-2TMuch Wenlock 4406 on train railuk.inforailuk.info

Chasewater Railway Museum June 1965 Bits & Pieces 29

More taken from the Mercian June 1965, Vol.4 No.3

Renowned Branch Lines

By Trer Pol & Pen

The Much Wenlock Branch

On Saturday, 21st July 1962, there closed to passengers yet another of GWR’s once numerous branch lines, that from Wellington to Much Wenlock.  Just over a year alter it was closed to all traffic and is now practically all lifted.Wellington Station – Roger Shenton

The line originally ran through to Craven Arms and was opened in five sections. 

Leaving Craven Arms station

Steam train tour leaves station on sharp North to East curve at Craven Arms

© Copyright Raymond Knapman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The section from Wellington to Coalbrookdale was opened on 1st July 1857, and was worked fro just four years by the Coalbrookdale Iron Company

Coalbrookdale Station

This is where the platform would have been. The line now carries only coal for the Ironbridge Gorge Power Station

© Copyright Mike White and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

which was absorbed by the GWR in 1892.  There had been a line to Coalbrookdale since 1st July 1854 running from the Shrewsbury and Birmingham main line west of Shifnal. 

Buildwas Junction

The next section, from Buildwas to Much Wenlock was opened on 1st February 1862, the same day as the Severn Valley line from Shrewsbury to Hartlebury, and worked by the Much Wenlock and Severn Junction Railway Company which was taken over by the GWR in 1896.  The Wenlock line continued to run as a branch of the Severn valley line until1st November 1864 when the Coalbrookdale to Buildwas section was opened, making through running between Wellington and Much Wenlock possible.

The next part to open was from Wenlock to Presthope on 5th December 1864 along the picturesque Wenlock Edge, to join the Shrewsbury and Hereford line at Marsh Farm Junction just north of Craven Arms.  Much Wenlock was provided with a tiny engine shed which housed a steam railcar for some years.  Other forms of motive power that have worked over the line include various types of GWR 2-6-2 tanks, 57xx and 64xx pannier tanks, Ivatt and Standard2-6-2 tanks and until closure of the line, single unit railcars.  An auto train with engine number 6421 ran for some months in 1961-62 but was soon withdrawn.

Longville Station

This former station on the line from Craven Arms to Buildwas via Much Wenlock has been tastefully converted into a private residence while keeping a railway theme.

© Copyright David Stowell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The first closure came on 31st December 1951, when the section south of Much Wenlock lost its passenger services and was closed completely south of Longville.  The line from Much Wenlock to Longville continued to carry a daily goods train until about 1960 when it was running ’as required’.  The beginning of the end came on 21st July 1962 when the last passenger train ran from Wellington to Much Wenlock, this town having reached its centenary by just over five months.  Shortly afterwards, the points were removed at the junction with the main line at Ketley Bank, and the line down to Lightmoor junction was worked as required via Madeley. 

Lightmoor Junction

The left fork here has been taken up. Further north, along its line, is the Horsehay Steam Trust. The right fork leads to Madeley Junction, a real junction this time, on the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury line. Only goods trains, long lines of coal trucks heading to & from the Ironbridge Gorge Power Station pass along this line now.

© Copyright Mike White and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

On 30th November 1963, the section from Buildwas Junction to Longville was shut for all traffic in conjunction with the Severn Valley line.  This was to enable the entire lay-out and station at Buildwas to be completely demolished to make way for the CEGBs new power station to occupy the site. 

Buildwas coal-fired power station and River Severn

Originally based on local coal and the River Severn for cooling – coal now imported. An eyesore at the mouth of the Ironbridge Gorge.

© Copyright Bob Bowyer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

This will give a new lease of life to the line between Madeley Junction and Buildwas as all the coal for this power station will come in over this route on the ‘merry-go-round’ principle.

All the stations and halts on the line are still standing (June 1965) in some form.  At Much Wenlock, the station house is still inhabited and the engine shed complete with a short length of track.  The entire track between Buildwas and Marsh Farm Junction is now lifted.Former Station from the Much Wenlock Information & Visitor Guide

Chasewater Railway Museum July,Aug 1962 Mercian 1.4 Bits & Pieces 18

Taken from the Mercian, July-August 1962 1.4


It looks as though Dr. Beeching’s axe has been raised again to fall on many so-called unremunerative lines.  With the roads congested and choked with traffic it makes you wonder whether the railways cannot play a great part in transportation still today.  As Mr. D. Ives says in his report:  Another delightful and picturesque branch line (The Wenlock) has seen its last passenger train.

The RPS is now often featured in the Model and Railway Press which we hope is doing much to gain us the right sort of publicity.  ‘Forum’ our National magazine has also appeared.  There has also been much criticism, but this is mainly due to the odd chappies saying ‘We’ll preserve this – preserve that’ popping up in different parts of the country does tend to give the general public the impression that ‘Preservation’ is getting out of hand, whereas they seem sympathetic to the aims of a well organised body.

We are hoping that the visit to Ashchurch of our TPO will help to increase membership and also our funds.

Our friends in the London District have made remarkable progress since our last issue with the acquisition of a permanent depot, a report on which is included from them.

We would like to draw attention to Mr. P. Cotterell’s fund for the LMS ‘Jinty’.  Remember every penny helps so please, everyone, try to do all you can to make this, and our Carriage Fund a success.  Inform your friends and colleagues, you may find them sympathetic towards our aims.


Hon. Secretary’s Notes & Report

Much Wenlock Branch – Last Passenger Train. Saturday 21st July 1962.

A combined party of RPS and Stafford Railway Circle members, friends and relatives attended a most memorable last trip down the delightful Wenlock Branch.  (Contrast to our first trip three years ago).  A huge number of people gathered at Wellington Station.  Nearly everyone appeared to get on the train, this seemed to include both enthusiasts and local people wishing to participate in the final trip.  The train service has served rural Shropshire for the last hundred years.

The train left Much Wenlock amid the blast of the locos whistle, the sharp cracking of detonators, the blast of a bugle, wail of whistles and clanging of hand bells operated by enthusiasts.

Picture – Robert Darlaston

The loco carried a head board suitably inscribed and made by one of our members, this was in place until the final stop at Wellington Station.  It is always a sad occasion to see these delightful branches fade into oblivion, but everyone is bowing to the inevitable as indeed that is all they can do.  There must have been a few damp cheeks among the local people as they stood waving a last farewell to the train as it wound its way up and down the steep grades that are preponderant on the line.  Many thanks to Terry Jones for providing details of train times etc.

Working Parties

We are now hoping to finish the TPO in time for the September exhibition at Ashchurch, I have heard this week that enquiries are already in hand asking for the cost of transporting the TPO from Hednesford to Ashchurch and the return journey of course.  Several other undercoats have yet to be applied, more rubbing down and of course the final finishing coat, lining and varnishing.  Plenty of work yet.  (Must be finished by August 26th).

Arthur Chatfield assisted by other members is making an excellent job in the restoration of the Midland horse drawn parcels van, this has now been recanvassed and painted in maroon undercoat.  A front wheel has yet to be removed and rebuilt as several felloes are suffering from dry rot.

This van is currently at Shugborough – March 2010).

Carriage & Wagon Preservation Fund

We do hope that all members will support this fund, we have tried to raise  another overdraft from the bank without success, and we have therefore decided to press ahead with full speed in this vital cause.  The first vehicle we hope will be the Midland Royal Saloon, if it has not already been scrapped, followed by other suitable vehicles, ordinary compartment stock, etc.

David Ives Hon.Sec.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurers always seem to be complaining about the financial state of affairs but I am pleased to say that the month of June brought in a steady income and July has made a fair start.

(I included this sentence because the content is so rare!!)

F.J.Harvey, Midlands Area Treasurer.

Midland 0-6-0T Fund.

The RPS announces its intention of purchasing a locomotive to work its ex-Midland branch line (which will eventually be open to the public) in the rural North Birmingham area.  The engine is to be a Midland Railway 0-6-0T of 1899 vintage

(the forerunner of the well known LMS ‘Jinty’) and will be painted in its original colours.

British Railways have been approached as to the cost of such an engine and the price agreed at £750, plus the extra money needed to put her in working order.Photo – Wikipedia

Chasewater Railway Museum Oct.1959 Bits & Pieces 7

From the Railway Preservation Society Newsletter October 1959

Vol 1  No.2

Chairman’s Page

Anything from a button to a branch line

Yes, we are interested in anything of railway origin and historic interest.  We have no prejudices.  We are anxious to preserve all classes of relics from all pre-grouping companies, the big four and British Railways.  In fact, we want to build up a truly comprehensive collection of relics that will form a supplement to the British Transport Commission’s own invaluable collection of historic relics.

At the moment we do not possess either a button or a branch line!    We own about 50 relics from the range in between these two types.  Our largest is a 6-wheeled carriage, and we expect that we shall soon have satisfactory accommodation for this so that our members can work on its restoration.

The rest of our collection comprises small items, and until we have acquired the necessary rail space and land, we cannot expand our collection of large relics.  Both the West Midland and London & Home Counties Districts are working on this problem, and both hope to be able to announce a satisfactory conclusion to their searches.

We already have our eye on a few larger items such as signals, 4-wheeled, 6-wheeled and bogie coaches, as well as goods vehicles.  The number of larger items we buy each year is governed by the speed by which our membership grows.

Once again we are enclosing a second copy of this newsletter.  Please pass it on to somebody who is interested in the activities of the only national society dedicated to the preservation of standard gauge relics.

West Midland District

Outing to the Much Wenlock Branch, Saturday, 19th September.

A rather small but enthusiastic party attended the District’s first get-together and outing, exact figures being seven members, plus seven relations and friends.

The smallness of numbers did not mar the day, however, and a very enjoyable time was had by all.  The main party started from Stafford station and was joined by another member at Wellington.  The Station Master at Wellington came over prior to departure for Much Wenlock; he appeared most sympathetic to our aims, and reflected sadly on the closure of branch lines.

Wellington Station – Roger Shenton

The train pulled out on time from Wellington, headed by a 57xx class pannier tank No.3732.  The quaint halts en route to Buildwas Junction were noted, the driver, leaning through his cab window, pointed out several places of interest.  Coalbrookdale Iron Works were keenly watched by members, with interest in the fact that the first iron bridge in the world was cast there.  This was seen spanning the Severn as the train passed over a parallel bridge further up-stream.

Much Wenlock – Wellington

This delightful photograph epitomises the action on so many evocative branch lines in the West Midlands.  2-6-2T No.4142 was running under easy steam at Farley Dingle on 23rd April 1957 on a Much Wenlock to Wellington afternoon local service.  As so often happens when rural railway services are withdrawn, the trackbed was transformed into part of the modern road system.

Geoff Bannister

Buildwas Junction proved of interest, an ancient wagon turn-table being spotted, also the two platform levels, one for the Wenlock branch and one for the Severn Valley line.Buildwas Junction

The train passed Buildwas Abbey, a very picturesque sight on the west bank of the Severn.Buildwas Abbey

The gradients and curves then became very pronounced as the train made its way to the Wenlock terminus through the beautiful Shropshire countryside.

A member living at Much Wenlock met the party on arrival and very kindly took four members to Longville in his car, this line being open to freight only.  This excursion through the lovely Wenlock Edge was greatly appreciated.

The goods yard, sidings box and single engine shed (without loco) were inspected by the remaining members.  The ladies of the party visited the ancient Guildhall and Abbey, which proved full of historical interest.

After tea and a final look around Much Wenlock station, the party caught the 7.05 back to Wellington headed by the same pannier tank, but a different crew.

A vote of thanks must be recorded to the BR Staff at WR Wellington, for the kind way in which they answered questions, thus making the trip thoroughly worthwhile.

It is to be hoped that another outing of this nature will be better attended so that the RPS will continue to thrive and gain more publicity.  How about it, WMD members.

Date: 2002

Description: Buildwas Junction formed part of the Severn Valley line that ran from Hartlebury, near Droitwich, to Shrewsbury through Bridgnorth and Ironbridge. However, the line was disbanded in 1963 following Dr Beeching’s review of the railways. A section of track between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth has been preserved by the Severn Valley Company, but the track from Bridgnorth onto Shrewsbury was pulled up in the 1960’s and can no longer be used.