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Birdingbury Station

LMS Route: Rugby to Leamington

Birdingbury Station, opened on 1st March 1851 to both passenger and goods traffic, was with Marton one of the two intermediate stations on the original single line route from Rugby to Leamington. The access to the station was from Bourton Lane located on the up line with the up platform accommodating the original brick built building which was home to the booking office, waiting room, toilets and the station masters house. The goods yard was accessed from the same lane with a driveway that also led to a private level crossing immediately to the Rugby end of the platforms which remained in existence until 1893 when it was removed. The driveway was also private property although according to R Preston Hendry and R Powell Hendry in their book 'LMS Stations' there was a right of way granted to the LNWR to all vehicles 'except those propelled by steam'. Unusually the goods yard closed before passenger services with goods traffic ceasing on 3rd August 1953 the sidings being lifted shortly after closure. The station's down platform was opened on 28th January 1884 at the same as the line was doubled between Rugby and Marton. The signal box was located opposite the goods yard on the Rugby side of the down (Leamington) line and became redundant with the removal of goods facilities in 1953. The station finally closed to passengers on 15th June 1959 when the Rugby to Leamington service was withdrawn although the route remained open as a single line for cement traffic until the 1980s.

Looking towards Rugby with Birdinbury station's up platform and the goods yard on the left  in the distance
Ref: lnwrbird1333
Postcard
Looking towards Rugby with Birdinbury station's up platform and the goods yard on the left in the distance
Close up of Birdingbury station's 1851 structure with the four-lever 'ground' frame sited under the window on the right
Ref: lnwrbird1333a
Postcard
Close up of Birdingbury station's 1851 structure with the four-lever 'ground' frame sited under the window on the right
Close up of Birdingbury station's goods yard with the signal box on the right immediately at the end of the down platform
Ref: lnwrbird1333b
Postcard
Close up of Birdingbury station's goods yard with the signal box on the right immediately at the end of the down platform
Close up Birdingbury station's waiting room which was sited on the down platform and built using timber framing and boards
Ref: lnwrbird1333c
Postcard
Close up Birdingbury station's waiting room which was sited on the down platform and built using timber framing and boards
An early 1950s view of Birdingbury station looking towards Rugby with the goods yard and signal box still in use
Ref: lnwrbird1335
Anon
An early 1950s view of Birdingbury station looking towards Rugby with the goods yard and signal box still in use

Close up of Birdingbury station's down waiting room showing its been repainted in British Railways maroon and cream
Ref: lnwrbird1335a
Anon
Close up of Birdingbury station's down waiting room showing its been repainted in British Railways maroon and cream
View of Birdingbury station looking towards Rugby with the goods yard and its accompanying signal box removed
Ref: lnwrbird1334
Anon
View of Birdingbury station looking towards Rugby with the goods yard and its accompanying signal box removed
Close up of the station building with the booking office on the left, the general waiting room and the station master's house at the far end
Ref: lnwrbird1334a
Anon
Close up of the station building with the booking office on the left, the general waiting room and the station master's house at the far end
BR built Ivatt 2P 2-6-2T No 41227 is seen at the head of 7 54pm Rugby to Leamington service as it arrives at Birdingbury station on the last train on the last day of service
Ref: Ref: lnwrbird1754
M Mensing
BR built Ivatt 2P 2-6-2T No 41227 is seen at the head of 7 54pm Rugby to Leamington service as it arrives at Birdingbury station on the last train on the last day of service
View from an up train and looking in the direction of Leamington showing Birdingbury's down platform and waiting room seen on the left
Ref: Ref: lnwrbird1755
E Wilmshurst
View from an up train and looking in the direction of Leamington showing Birdingbury's down platform and waiting room seen on the left

View of the 6 36pm Leamington to Rugby local passenger service leaving Birdingbury propelled by BR Ivatt 2MT No 41227 at the rear
Ref: lnwrbird1758
M Mensing
View of the 6 36pm Leamington to Rugby local passenger service leaving Birdingbury propelled by BR Ivatt 2MT No 41227 at the rear
View of the 1894 drawing showing the layout of Birdingbury station and goods yard with private level crossing to the left
Ref: birdingbury_station_layout
Anon
View of the 1894 drawing showing the layout of Birdingbury station and goods yard with private level crossing to the left
An unidentified Brush Type 2 A1A+A1A diesel locomotive pauses at the site of the abandoned Birdingbury station
Ref: Ref: lnwrbird2858
P Leonard
An unidentified Brush Type 2 A1A+A1A diesel locomotive pauses at the now abandoned Birdingbury station

Accident at Birdingbury Station on 1st January 1856

The following report, dated 18th January 1856, was commissioned by the Secretary of the Railway Department of the Board of Trade. The report, together with many others, can be found at the Railways Archive website.

Because the line from Rugby to Leamington was in 1856 single track throughout and operated under the single staff or stick system which allows the station master of either end to send forward trains whilst the staff is in his possession. When the last train to be forwarded has been sent before another from the opposite direction is due the station master hands the staff to the guard to hand to the station master at the other end of the line. The line then becomes locked from the end at the end from where the staff has been sent. The 1:30pm passenger train from Rugby to Leamington was dispatched 15 minutes after time; it was more than ordinarily heavy, consisting of four carriages, four carriage trucks, and two vans; the usual train is not more than half of this size. The time allowed in going to Birdingbury, the first station on the line, is nine minutes, the distance being something more than six miles, but the guard stated that it was never done with an ordinary train in less than twelve or fourteen minutes. Leaving Rugby there is an ascending gradient for two miles of 1 in 127, and when that is surmounted the line falls rapidly; Birdingbury station being at the foot of an incline nearly two miles in length which falls 1 in 112, and, as the line curves rapidly a short distance from the station, the latter does not become visible until it is approached within 600 yards; it is protected only by a station signal.

The passenger train reached Birdingbury at 2:00pm, having lost six minutes on the way; it was delayed three minutes at the station, and was slowly moving away, having proceeded only forty or fifty yards, when it was run into by a coal train from Rugby. This train was dispatched at 1:55pm; it consisted of thirteen loaded wagons and a break (sic) van, and its weight might be 135 tons; it was drawn by a passenger engine; the coals were to be delivered to Manton (sic) Station, the succeeding one to Birdingbury; the driver who was selected to take this train had never before been on the line. and the fireman stated that he had only been on the line twice before, once at night and that six months had elapsed since he had been over the line. The driver stated that in going around the curve, which hides the view of the station, he was not going more than seventeen or eighteen miles an hour; that then having asked the fireman what distance were they from the station, he replied it was just through the bridge and that he then immediately reversed and screwed on the break (sic) himself. The fireman says that they were going forty miles an hour, and that when the driver asked him how far they were from the station, he replied he did not know, but that he thought they were not far off; immediately after, they came in sight of it, the station, as I mentioned before, not being visible more than 600 yards off. The speed must have undoubtedly been much greater than what the driver states, as the collision was a severe one, the coal being thrown down the bank on one side, and a great number of wagons thrown off the line on the other side, and the van and some of the trucks of the passenger train smashed to pieces.

From the circumstances I have just detailed there will be little difficulty in assigning the collision to the proper causes, and in indicating the departments to which blame attaches.

The collision it is evident was caused by sending the driver on a line with which he was totally unacquainted, accompanied by a fireman hardly better informed in the matter, that line presenting features of difficulty in its gradients, curves, and in the position of at least one of its stations, that station being situated immediately at the bottom of a long incline of 1 in 112, and not visible more than 600 yards off, an unprotected by a distance signal which would point to the necessity that the driver selected to conduct a train over it should be well acquainted with its peculiarities, and the circumstances of a station, the position of which had nothing to indicate its nearness to a stranger. The driver said, and no doubt said truly, "If there had been a distance signal to indicate my nearness to the station I should not have run into the train."

The departments to blame are, the locomotive, which sent a driver off over a difficult line, with the peculiarities of which he was perfectly ignorant; and the department in which the responsibility of erecting proper signals at the station.

I was informed by the Superintendent of the southern division of the line that the Directors had inquired into the circumstances connected with this collision, and had punished the man who had dispatched the coal train, not because he disobeyed any order in sending it off within an interval of not more than eight minutes between trains, - for, by recent instructions which have been issued, it appears that three or more trains are now allowed to travel at the same time between stations not three miles apart, which would involve intervals of time infinitely shorter, and which one is almost afraid to contemplate, - but because they considered he should have exercised a discretionary power, and allowed an interval of twenty minutes or more, the dispatch of the coal train not being a matter of urgency. Now, as it is a rule on every line in the kingdom that trains may follow at an interval of five minutes, it appears a very unjust measure to visit with punishment a man guilty only of error of judgement, if error it was, and to allow the real culpable parties to escape. Had the Directors been aware of all the circumstances of the case they could hardly have come to the decision they have done, and I am therefore glad to have this opportunity of making all the facts of the case known to them.

When single lines are worked, as ordinarily is the case, with one engine, the necessity for auxiliary signals is not so apparent, but with the system adopted by the LNWR on their single lines it is obvious that trains require to be protected by signals in the same manner as on double lines, and I know of no instance in which an auxiliary signal is more required than at Birdingbury Station, and that the Directors in their investigation should have overlooked a question of such urgency would argue a very superficial investigation in to the subject.

George Wynne, Lieutenant Colonel, Royal Engineers