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LMS Route: Rugby to Leamington Spa (Avenue)
LMS Route: Nuneaton to Leamington
LMS Route: Leamington to Weedon

Leamington (Avenue) Station - Locomotives: lnwrlave4062b

Close up showing the Greaves Blue Lias Lime and Portland Cement Van No 242 based at Harbury and rated at 6ton 12 cwt


Close up showing the Greaves Blue Lias Lime and Portland Cement Van No 242 based at Harbury and rated at 6ton 12 cwt.

Richard Greaves as born in 1801, a son of John Greaves, a merchant of Stratford-on-Avon and a director of the horse-drawn tramway which ran between Stratford on Avon and Moreton in Marsh He inherited part of his fathers property and business empire, which included land at Wilmcote , Southam and Stockton, which was suitable for quarrying blue lias limestone. Canals formed an important adjunct to Greaves business and the canal which passed through Wilmcote is said to have been diverted through that village to serve his lime kilns. His lime was on the market in London in the 1830's and he started to make artificial cement at his Stockton quarry.

In 1852, Richard Greaves opened a blue lias works at Harbury, south of Leamington Spa on the Great Western Railway main line to London. Three years later the works of Graves, Bull and Larkin were opened, one of the few industries of this type in that area not served by a canal, from the beginning rail transport was used to ferry coal to the works and finished goods out. Private sidings on the down side were laid in 1883 and extended in 1899, when a signal box was installed and connections to both up and down main lines provided. The works were gradually extended and in 1907 600 tons per week of cement was manufactured. But by 1924 the installation of three new rotary kilns capable of producing 343 tons a day saw the pinnacle of the company's output.

In 1927 it was purchased by Allied Cement Manufacturers whose Red Triangle brand was second only to Blue Circle in public recognition. But four years later this company was declared bankrupt, and the works were acquired a year later on an "as is" basis by Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers, whose Blue Circle brand was recognised nation-wide. The works were closed in 1970.

A fleet of over forty cement, lime and coke wagons was operated. all registered with the Great Western Railway and built by either the Metropolitan RC&WCo or the Birmingham RC&WCo. between 1891 and 1906:

Year GWR Register Nos Wagon No Frame Body Builder
1891 6608-6617 200-209 Iron Lime Metropolitan
1892 9119-9128 210-219 Iron Lime Metropolitan
1897 29261-2 220-221 Steel Coke Metropolitan
1898 34265-6 222-223 Steel Coke Birmingham
1892 50096-8 225-227 Steel Lime Birmingham¹
1902 55022-55024 228-230 Steel Lime Birmingham¹
1904 65701-65704 231-234 Steel Lime Birmingham
1906 72883-72888 241-246 Steel Coke Birmingham²

Note ¹ these were described as lime/cement wagons.
Note ² No 242 was a cement van (see the photograph above.

Following the 1927 takeover, it is likely that only a few of the company's wagons would have been re-identified, but after 1932 absorbed into the Blue Circle fleet, probably renumbered and mostly exempted from wartime pooling. By remote chance, one or two may have lasted till postwar in the original colours…

A newspaper advertisement (undated) confirms that the company also had works at Stockton and Wilmcote, and that its products would be delivered by rail, boat or cart to London, and to every part of te kingdom by rail or boat. Depots were located at Worcester Wharf, Birmingham and 18 South Wharf, Paddington, London. Wilmcote was located on the Stratford on Avon to Warwick line of the GWR.. Stockton was located on the LNWR line between Leamington Spa and Weedon and served by the Napton and Stockton station.

Keith Turton