‘The Stratford Upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway’ (or S.M.J.) was a small independent railway company which ran a line across the empty, untouched centre of England. It visited the counties of Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and a little of Buckinghamshire, only existing as the SMJ from 1909 to 1923. In 1923 the S.M.J.became a minor arm of the London Midland and Scottish (L.M.S.), then in 1948 'British Railways' 

Gone but not forgotten: "the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth"


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Some time ago we ahd an interesting and lively discussion on the mystery station at Tiffield, which added quite a lot to our collective knowledge.

I've recently been looking closely at two of the other mystery stations- at North End (sometimes Northend) and Warwick Road-or were they one and the same perhaps?

 

The essential reference for station opening/closing dates now seems to be M.E. Quicks large tome and its various supplements.

This gives (info taken from from Bradshaw timetables only):

Warwick Road - first in ttable Dec 1871/ last in ttable June 1873

North End - First in ttable Aug 1872, through to June 1873 / then April 1874 to "closure"1st Aug 1877 -it's thought that the gap from June 1873 to April 1874 is probably just an error in the ttable and it was in fact continuous

I have done considerable research at both Kew and in local newspapers of the period, and the following items/dates are interesting-

 

3rd June 1871 -Inspecting Officer of Board of Trade report of opening from Fenny to Kineton- description of the two terminal stations, but no mention of others.

17th June 1871- newspaper report of a trip along the new line by a member of the public- remarks about the station facilities etc but again no mention of North End or Warwick Road

5th August 1871 - newspaper announcement of the Kineton Floral & Horticultural Show-mentions specila train at 9pm for North End and Kineton-so North End obviously existed then, well before the date shown by Quick, and also before the date shown for Warwick Road

 

We then move on to 1873- 

24th May 1873- Warwickshire Field Club party went by train to North End for an outing

13th Aug 1873- Kineton Horticultural Society show - "patrons can return to Ettington and Stratford only by the 9.14pm train or by special train to other stations at 9.15pm, which will call at North End at 9.25pm"

 

26th and 27th June 1873 the Board of Trade inspected the full length of the new line throughout from Greens Norton to Stratford. describes all of the stations, including "those previously open at Fenny Compton and Kineton" - but very strangely no mention of either North End or Warwick Road

A press report of this opening is also very interesting- the newspaper comments that "the previous short section of railway has been very accommodating.....each train carried its own booking office...simplicity of arrangement....trains stopped for passengers when they appeared" and adding that it was hoped that the full opening would not change this.

The report does however mention that " pick up platforms are to be introduced" which would be useful for picnic parties etc. However it does not state where.

 

Then an apparent last mention-

10th March 1877- Auction of cows and heifers - " trains will stop at North End Siding" - note the use of the word siding

 

I have also looked at the monthly timetables in the Leamington Spa papers over the period-there is never any mention of either North End or Warwick Road stations.

Warwick Road is never mentioned in the local press.

 

So -what can we deduce from all of this?

It is strange that both of the Board of Trade inspections do not mention either station, even though their existence is otherwise confirmed by the newspaper items.

Were they just goods sidings where passengers could alight unofficially?

Were there in fact two stations anyway, or just one that was known by a different name at various times?

 

Riley and Simpson, in their book on the SMJ, do suggest that they were one and the same place. They say that Warwick Road/Burton Dassett opened, with the line, in 1871 and closed in 1873 (this matches Quick's info) but that North End siding then opened in the same place in March 1885(obviously in existence much earlier)

 

Food for thought - does anyone further information, or access to early 25" Ordnance Survey maps of the area around the 1870's that might help ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

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have only just discovered this discusion and knowing the Northend farmer who farms the land around this site I know the overhead tramway ran to the Burton Dasset Hills where iron ore was dug. He personally dug out the steel footings of the masts as they had been cut off at ground level and for many years they broke plough shear bolts when the ploughs hit them. Hanging in his house is a old local OS map (which may be of the same already shown). One thing to remember is the Warwick / Banbury road shown in both maps above is the location of the original road. Todays road lies some distance to the east of the one shown putting the old station site to the west of todays road. (for any one who is looking for any evidence). I have a recollection also of seeing an old photo showing the platform and what amounted to almost a bus shelter. I shall make further enquires with both the farmer and a former old employee of his who have both spoke of this platform / halt. It certainly did exist with a few sidings. It was also within this same area that the line branched to the edge hill light railway.

I think there has been a lot of confusion over the sites for Warwick Road and Burton Dassett.

Photographs of Burton Dassett platform put it's location between Bridge 66 and the adjacent spur to the ironstone workings (EHLR). The bridge numbers index puts these two sites together but 1 chain before Bridge 66 on the Fenny Compton side, clearly there is a mistake here. The earlier 1905 maps of the area show some goods sidings but not the platform.

If anybody is interested there is a paperback book titled "BURTON DASSETT RAILWAY STATION" by Columba Sara Evelyn and published by Fec Publishing 2011.

I don't think this is a real book but just info from a company that specializes in publishing and selling Wikipedia articles in printed form via print on demand. Not worth the money.

Jim.

Map showing some interesting features, Burton Dassett area.

This raises a few interesting points.

It looks as though there may have been foot access to the"station" area from both the north and south, judging by the elongated triangles of fenced land indicated on both sides of the line. The southern one would presumably have been access to the sidings during their various incarnations anyway - but was there in fact a northern access?

The bridle road coming from the North End village direction straight to the sidings is interesting.

Alternatively - or as well - do those two triangles of land indicate the old course of the road and bridge- Martin mentioned earlier that the bridge was rebuilt on a slightly different site - but just when was that?

I did wonder whether there was a level crossing here initially - but that is disproved by the 1871 inspection report, where it is mentioned that there were 2 underbridges and 7 overbridges on the newly opened line from Fenny to Kineton. That checks out if there is an overbridge bridge here.

However - going off track a bit and raising another question altogether - only two underbridges does not tally. In later days there were three - Bridge 62 Fenny C station - Wormleighton road, Bridge 63 a cattle creep at 22miles 65ch - and then  Bridge 68 - a stream at 27m 21ch.

It may well be that there was not a bridge initially at Fenny Compton, so was this just a level crossing for a time - and if so when was the bridge constructed?

Something else of interest. I've been digging back through some of my notes obtained from Kew a year or two ago, and found these plans of Burton Dassett dated 1898 when the EWJR applied to the Board of Trade to open a connection to the private siding of the Burton Hill Iron Ore Company. They stated that this was a reconstruction of an earlier siding that had fallen into disuse after the quarries had been closed down.

I had to take three pics to cover the whole length of the plan, and although they are a bit indistinct, it does show that there had previously been a length of double track here for some distance. Although its hard to see the small print does say that the removed second track was the down line. I don't think that we've seen evidence of that before, and it is not in R A Cooke's track diagram book. Presumably that was a remnant of the old arrangements when the quarries were previously worked back around the opening of the line in 1871 / 3

Unfortunately no sign of Warwick Road platform, which Cooke does show as being on the east side of the bridge exactly opposite to the later workers halt here - which is also not shown on these 1898 plans.

Apparently this particular opening of the siding only lasted a few years and was then resurrected again in around 1908.

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Barry Taylor said:

This raises a few interesting points.

It looks as though there may have been foot access to the"station" area from both the north and south, judging by the elongated triangles of fenced land indicated on both sides of the line. The southern one would presumably have been access to the sidings during their various incarnations anyway - but was there in fact a northern access?

The bridle road coming from the North End village direction straight to the sidings is interesting.

Alternatively - or as well - do those two triangles of land indicate the old course of the road and bridge- Martin mentioned earlier that the bridge was rebuilt on a slightly different site - but just when was that?

I did wonder whether there was a level crossing here initially - but that is disproved by the 1871 inspection report, where it is mentioned that there were 2 underbridges and 7 overbridges on the newly opened line from Fenny to Kineton. That checks out if there is an overbridge bridge here.

However - going off track a bit and raising another question altogether - only two underbridges does not tally. In later days there were three - Bridge 62 Fenny C station - Wormleighton road, Bridge 63 a cattle creep at 22miles 65ch - and then  Bridge 68 - a stream at 27m 21ch.

It may well be that there was not a bridge initially at Fenny Compton, so was this just a level crossing for a time - and if so when was the bridge constructed?

Is there not a clue in the photo of Fenny Compton road bridge 62 ? It would seem that this road is liable to flooding, indicated by the minimum depth markers (in feet) up to 6 foot. Also this bridge has a height restriction of 13' 3". However I have not seen any mention on any map of a level crossing at this point. The track layout is slightly different in this map to later maps of 1899.

I managed to acquire a copy of Eric Tonks' work on the Edge Hill Light Railway this week. It is a lovely book, published directly by him in 1948: he interestingly refers to their hundreds of photographs taken of the line! I wonder where they all are? We usually see the same few...

Although the work is out the publisher's copyright (which expired in 1973 for this work) it is still within the author's copyright, but "fair dealing" allows for partial use for the purposes of research, etc, which although in the public domain, I think this is. However, dissemination is not permitted - although you can use the drawings as the basis for your own artwork, so long as you pay due credit to the original source. Besides, I expect Eric Tonks would have approved of this use!

Within the book are some maps, and I have scanned them in as they are very germane to this discussion. It is clear that Burton Dassett station and the original ropeway served sidings to the east of the Warwick Road bridge, and that the EHLR was on the west side of the bridge.

Hope these help in some way - of course, the plans don't indicate any earlier stations, but that is just the way of things.

Eric's little book is very useful but as you say doesn't really help with the earlier stations, but his later series on the Ironstone Quarries of the Midlands (Runpast) - Pt 2 Oxfordshire has quite a lot on the early days of the Burton Dassett site, as mentioned earlier.

The attached photo shows the position of the EHLR clearly as being just west of the road bridge.

Back on the subject of Fenny Compton, I have managed to answer my own question about the bridge / level crossing. The bridge was certainly there from opening as shown on the attached plan from 1871 - note how short the EWJR platform originally was - and there is no platform yet on the down side.

A fact gleaned from the National Archives about the level crossing at Fenny Compton;

1st August - 31st August 1964, Fenny Compton : Wormleighton Level Crossing, Warwickshire

REDUCTION IN STATUS.



Barry Taylor said:

Interesting.

R A Cooke's Track Layout Diagrams of the SMJ show the easternmost groundframe consistently through this period at MP 25½ from Blisworth - near enough to the 25m 46ch figure.

However, the ironstone company had a rather erratic existence, and seems to have only been working in 1908, and then totally abandoned by 1911, before coming back again later on. I just wonder if the SMJ took the eastern GF out of use and operated the siding from the western end although 25m 53ch does put the siding well the other side of the road bridge.

Alwyn's wagon labels are also interesting, particularly as the Burton Dassett "wharf" sidings seemed to have disappeared in the late 1950's and one of the labels is 1964. I would guess that they were still using the old name for the destination, even though the traffic was actually for the MOD depot- the "Pure Rock Asphalt" suggests that it was for construction work there, as the depot was constantly being developed.

Going back to some extent to the original discussion about Warwick Road / North End - does anyone know just when the building at Burton Dassett platform dates from? It doesn't appear to be shown on the 1880's OS 25" maps, although there seems to be an indentation shown in the embankment at that point. The reason that I raise this point is that the scalloped wooden canopy edging on the front of the building in early views is identical to that shown on Kineton station in the very early photos. (presumably the opening day in 1871). Does this suggest that the B Dassett building is of the same age, or did they just have a bit of the same material left in stock for use later?

If you look at the old photos of the SMJ structures at Fenny Compton Station, you can see that these too, had scalloped wooden canopy edging.

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