Railways in Worcestershire

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Birmingham & Gloucester Railway

BIRMINGHAM TO BROMSGROVE AND GLOUCESTER

This building of a railway line from Birmingham to Gloucester was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1836. The Birmingham and Gloucester Railway (B&GR) raised the necessary capital to build the line and construction began forthwith.

The line was opened in sections starting with a 31 miles long stretch from the Company workshops at Bromsgrove to Cheltenham on 24th June 1840. Bromsgrove to Cofton Farm opened 17th September 1840 (using a temporary station) with Cofton Farm to Camp Hill terminus being opened on 17th December 1840. The original Camp Hill terminus station closed when a link was made into the Curzon Street station of the London & Birmingham Railway from 17th August 1841 (and to Birmingham New Street from 1854).

The B&GR merged with the Bristol and Gloucester Railway on 14th January 1845 to form the Birmingham and Bristol Railway and on 31st August 1846 the whole become a part of the Midland Railway.

Anybody interested in seeking out the early history of this line can do not better than refer to "Whishaw's 1842 guide" - see Bibliography

On the way out of Birmingham there were stations at Brighton Road, Moseley (opened by the Midland Railway in 1867), Kings Heath (called Moseley until 1867) and Hazelwell (opened 1867) (all four of these stations closed 27th November 1946). There was also at various times three stations at Lifford - No.1 closed in 1844 and the No.3 on 30th September 1940. From Lifford the line goes to Kings Norton. There are now no stations on the Camp Hill line.

At Kings Norton a junction is made with the former Midland Railway's West Suburban Railway from Birmingham New Street. This line that opened 3rd April 1876 makes its way out of Birmingham through a series of tunnels to suburban stations at Five Ways, Selly Oak and Bournville before reaching Kings Norton. Midland Railway main line services were switched from the Camp Hill line to the Birmingham West Suburban line in 1885

There are further stations at Northfield (opened 1st September 1870 - the date of 1892 inscribed into the floor of the subway here refers to the date when the line was quadrupled) and Longbridge (closed April 1849 and replaced by a new station that was opened in 1978 as part of the Centro "Cross City line"). All of these stations except for Five Ways were in Worcestershire parishes that were annexed by Birmingham in 1911 and since 1974 have been part of the West Midlands County.

The Halesowen Railway lefts the main line just south of Longbridge station and divided the former MG/Rover car plant into two parts. There was a works platform at Longbridge (closed 4th January 1960) on the Halesowen Railway.

The next station is Barnt Green (opened 1844) which is the junction for the line to Redditch and formerly Evesham and Ashchurch.

Continuing down the main line the major engineering feature on the route is the Lickey Incline with a closed station at the top at Blackwell (closed 18th April 1966), a good photography spot at Vigo and a station at Bromsgrove.

Another good spot of photography is from the bridge on Stoke Pound Lane.

At Stoke Works Junction there is a spur to the west that joins the Worcester to Stourbridge line at Droitwich Spa (opened February 1852). Stoke Works station served local factories. There was next a station at Stoke (Prior) that closed 1st October 1855.

Continuing south from Stoke Works the line avoids Worcester and passes through five closed stations at Droitwich Road, Dunhampstead, Oddingley, Spetchley and Norton (all closed 1st October 1855). Spetchley remained open for goods traffic and the yard was subsequently taken over by the engineers department. There is a passing loop for northbound trains at Spetchley.

Between Oddingley and Spetchley there is a vantage point at Tibberton.

Just beyond Worcester there is a passing loop for westbound trains at Abbotswood Junction (opened 5th October 1850) and formerly an interchange station (closed 1st October 1855) and a good spot for photography at Croome.

The line then passes through four small villages that all had their own stations. These were at Wadborough, Defford (Defford for Pershore in Midland Railway days), Eckington and Bredon that all four closed 4th January 1965 and shortlived ones at Pirton and Besford).

At Eckington the line crosses the River Avon over a bridge that was built in 1931.

The next station is Ashchurch for Tewkesbury (a new station on the site of the original Ashchurch station that closed 15th November 1971). This was an important junction station with lines to Redditch (closed 12th June 1963) and Malvern (closed 14th June 1961). After leaving Ashchurch there was a station at Cleeve (closed 2nd February 1950) before reaching Cheltenham and then Gloucester.

REFERENCE:

"The Birmingham Gloucester Line" by Colin Maggs, Line One Publishing Limited, 1986, ISBN 0 907036 10 4. This book provides a history of the line, many historic photographs and good track plans. Recommended.

"The Birmingham and Gloucester Railway" by P.J.Long and The Reverend W.V.Awdry, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1987, ISBN 0 862993 29 6. This seems to be the definitive guide to this railway line and includes a wealth of detail, photographs and statistical information. Recommended.

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