The Doubling of the Stratford-on-Avon Branch
The Doubling of the Stratford-on-Avon Branch
by G.H. Mackillop
The article by Mr Harold Smith in the January Magazine on
the Birmingham and North Warwickshire Railway described the northern portion of
the scheme for connecting South Wales and the West of England with Birmingham
and the North. The southern portion includes the Cheltenham and Honeybourne
Railway, and between these two new railways a part of the Stratford branch for
a length of about 14 miles has been utilised as a connecting link. This was
formally a single line branch, but has now been doubled and the sharp gradients
and curves considerably improved.
The Cheltenham and Honeybourne line meets the Stratford
branch at Honeybourne East Junction, about 1 mile from Honeybourne station. It
is connected to Worcester by a loop which leaves the former immediately after
it passes under the West Midland line and joins a spur from the Stratford
branch about half a mile from Honeybourne station. There is still another loop,
known as the Honeybourne East Loop, connecting the West Midland line from
London with the Stratford branch. The construction of the Honeybourne East Loop
was opened in May 1907. By means of this loop the company have now a double
line through from Paddington to Stratford-on-Avon, and this has been found of
great assistance in dealing with the well-known half-day trips to the latter
place. These alterations entailed the enlargement of Honeybourne station.
exchange sidings have been laid out and four platforms, 500 feet in length,
with the usual waiting room and other accommodation, are about to be built. A
new engine shed is also to be erected here.
Travelling along the branch in the direction of Stratford,
after leaving the Cheltenham and Honeybourne line, the line falls for about
three quarters of a mile at 1 in 150, the latter before the doubling being 1 in
130. Thence it is practically level to Long Marston station, which was formally
a passing place. All that was necessary, therefore, was to lengthen the
platforms, which are now 400 feet long between ramps. A cattle pen and loading
bank was also built. The fruit and vegetable traffic of the neighbourhood is
rapidly increasing, and last year over 200 tons of tomatoes were sent away from
Close to Long Marston station is the house to which Charles
II, fled disguised as a servant after the Battle of Worcester, and one can
still see the old roasting jack which the housewife told him to watch at the
kitchen fire. Beyond the station is a public crossing known as Wire Lane, where
the crossing keepers and gangers cottages were so close to the old
single line that they had to be pulled down and others erected. The line is now
practically straight with a slight falling gradient until Milcote is reached.
This was a small single platform station, but two new platforms 400 feet long
have now been built. The station is close by the River Avon, where good boating
may be obtained, and it is a favourite resort for summer visitors. The line now
falls gradually into Stratford and crosses the River Avon by a viaduct of nine
arches and one steel span. From the junction with the East and West Junction
Railway Company to a point close to the entrance to Stratford Goods Yard and
the branch was already double.
Stratford station is to be improved, the up
platform being made into an island platform 600 feet long, and the
down platform lengthened to 550 feet. The curves, also, at each end
of the station will be improved from a radius of 18 chains to 25 chains. The
building on the down side, which is the main entrance to the
station, will have a new booking-office and the whole building will be
structurally altered, thus materially improving the accommodation. A tea-room
and a bicycle house are also to be added. On the up platform there
will be spacious waiting and refreshment rooms. Stratford station will no doubt
become important for through express traffic, as passengers will change here
for Leamington and the south, and for all the various residential districts
south of Birmingham.
To enable the curve at the north end of the station to be
improved it was necessary to deviate the line over the canal. This enables the
old lines to be used as loops and will facilitate the working of traffic very
materially. The heaviest gradient of the whole scheme lies between Stratford
and Wilmcote. The old line had a gradient of 1 in 75 of one and a quarter
miles, but, by means of a slight deviation and raising of banks, this has been
reduced to less than one mile, which is a very considerable improvement.
Wilmcote station had formerly a single line platform, but has now two new
platforms, 400 feet long, with the usual waiting rooms and booking office
accommodation. The later have been built with a ramped approach from the road,
which goes over the railway at this station.
A mile beyond Wilmcote, Bearley West Junction, where the new
Birmingham and North Warwickshire line goes off to the left, is reached. A good
easy running junction has been put in there. The doubling of the branch
continues beyond this to Bearley station, so that of the whole Stratford branch
there now remains only the portion between Bearley and Hatton Junction as a
single line. None of the work between Honeybourne and Bearley was of a very
heavy character, and it has all been completed within eighteen months, a fairly
creditable result in view of the fact that the traffic was running all the
time. The work between Honeybourne and Stratford was carried out by Messrs.
Walter Scott and Middleton, and that between Stratford and Bearley by Messrs.
C.T. Wills & Sons.