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LMS Route: The Shakespeare Route

North End

North End, thought to have been of timber framed construction, was another short lived station, opening on 1st June 1871 and closing 31st July 1877 when passenger services between Blisworth and Stratford upon Avon were suspended. The reason North End closed was for the same reason as tits neighbour Warwick Road, they were both only a few miles from Fenny Compton which could handle the surrounding area's goods traffic. Whilst it is not impossible for a photograph to exist, as many stations were used as subject matter for postcards, the brevity of the station's life and the lack of charm such a station would offer the photographer means that it is hardly likely one exists.

No mention of a station at North End has so far been found in either surviving E&WJR official timetables, or contemporary newspaper timesheets, and no formal record has been found of either of its opening or closure. However, Bradshaw's timetables do contain references to the station, with the earliest mention being in the August 1872 edition where it is listed, in the usual timetable format together with Warwick Road, between Fenny Compton and Kineton. However, as with Warwick Road, no stopping times are shown, and a note “A” in the relevant space merely refers to a footnote stating that trains “Stop by signal”. After a short omission between June 1873 and April 1874, which is possibly an editorial error, North End is then no longer shown as a station in the usual format, but is instead merely mentioned in an extended footnote at the end of the E&WJR timetable. The last appearance of North End in Bradshaw's is found in the August 1877 edition, by which time passenger services had of course been withdrawn over the whole route.

The precise location of the station is also unconfirmed, although the 1886 Ordnance Survey 6 inch map (surveyed in 1885) shows a short footpath leading due north from a road junction to the north of North End village, and ending abruptly on the south side of the E&WJR line. A crossing of the line is denoted at this point, but the path does not then continue onwards. Also apparent on the map at this point is a vague outline on the northern side of the line which could possibly represent a platform. Crutchley's railway map of Warwickshire, although of indeterminate date, does denote North End as a station in this area, although the scale of the map is too small for precision. There is, however, some other evidence of the station to be found in contemporary local newspapers. An article in the Leamington Spa Courier of Saturday 5th August 1871 reported on the Kineton Floral and Horticultural show, held on the previous Wednesday, and mentioned that 'for the convenience of late stayers a special train was engaged to run on the East & West Junction Railway, which left Kineton station at nine o'clock pm for Northend and Fenny Compton'. This of course pre-dates the first entry in Bradshaw's.

The same newspaper of 24th May 1873 then carried a report of an outing of the Warwickshire Field Club, and recorded that after meeting at Fenny Compton, most of the party continued by train to Northend. A few weeks later on 2nd August, the Kineton Horticultural Society gathering on 13th of that month was announced, and patrons were advised that special fares would be available from all stations on the E&WJR line. Return travel to Ettington and Stratford was already available by a 9:14pm train, but passengers for stations in the other direction were to use a special train at 9:15pm, which would call at Northend at 9:25pm, and terminate at Blakesley at 10:20pm. A year later, an excursion was announced by the E&WJR on Whit-Monday May 25th 1874. Cheap fares were offered from Northampton, Blisworth, Towcester and all E&WJR stations to Stratford upon Avon and onwards to Evesham, Worcester and Malvern; departure from North End was indicated at 8:50am.

Some years later, an auction announcement in the 'Banbury Guardian' of 8th March 1877, for the sale of livestock at North End village, indicated that 'trains call at North End platform on the E&WJR”. Rather intriguingly the same event was also publicised in the 'Leamington Spa Courier' but advised that trains stop at 'Northend siding on the East & West Junction Railway'. This latter description offers the possibility that perhaps just a goods siding may have existed at North End, and in the apparently rather free and easy early days of the line, this may also have been utilised as a convenient point for passenger access. Contemporary reports of journeys on the line soon after opening in 1871 indicate the existence of 'pick up platforms' and North End may well have been one of these. However it is strange that the initial Board of Trade inspection reports did not make any mention of such stations, and there were apparently no later inspections to approve new stopping places. North End therefore remains something of an enigma. Somewhat remarkably, the name was still in use as late as January 1894. In a newspaper report of a meeting of the Warwickshire Hunt; the hounds ran '…… to Marlborough Farm, over the meadows to the East & West railway's North End siding, and back to Marlborough Farm again………'.

Barry Taylor

Barry is also the author of 'The Stratford-upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway - Volume 1 – The years before the S&MJR – 1866 to 1909 – The Constituent Companies' published by Black Dwarf Lightmoor, Witney, Oxfordshire.