‘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"


SMJ Forum

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SMJ photos

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A far more up to date question than my last one re: North End and Warwick Road - but the same area of the SMJ line.

Does anyone have precise dates and details for the bridging of the M40 motorway, when the SMJ was realigned slightly from its old course?

Was the line actually closed for a period of time while this was carried out, or was the new section constructed and then the line switched over without a break?

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1987-88 (Construction Warwick 1987, moving south to Banbury 1988.

Interestingly, having been looking at and discussing the location of Burton Dassett station last night, I spent some time this morning overlaying the 1904 OS 25" map of the area onto a current day Google maps satellite view. I didn't see any noticeable trace of realignment of the railway, apart from a possible widening of the trackbed in the area,  but there is a very clear realignment of the B4100 where it crossed the line at the station. 

I therefore wonder whether the realignment of the railway was temporary while the bridge over the motorway was built.

I have enclosed the overlay map/picture. 


That's intriguing Nick - I've never thought much about this before, but I have a distinct recollection of reading somewhere that the SMJ line was " realigned for a distance of xx yards or so to run over the new bridge". Obviously not an exact quote and I can't remember at the moment where it was - perhaps even on this site somewhere?

It certainly doesn't look from your map that very much changed, and it might well have just been a temporary slewing of the track. I wonder how they actually built the bridge-presumably after the cutting for the M40 was in place - if so the line must have been severed for at least a while.

I have a pic during the construction of the M1 over the SMJ at Quinton and there they actually built the bridge over the line first, and then completed the embankment on either side for the road to run on - logical I suppose. The M40 wouldn't have been quite the same though.

A quote from the Warwickshire Railways website;

"Part of the route was re-aligned and re-graded when the M40 motorway was constructed, passing under the line."

Could this be where you read the information about re-alignment? No distances are quoted though.

The 1:25000 OS map shows a kink to the new alignment over the M40 bridge, under the B4100 and in to the DSDA depot, a distance of about 0.7 miles.  It doesn't look such a kink on the aerial view but you can see the original alignment on the south side of the new line.  I guess it was easier to raise the railway than lower the motorway.

Makes sense - does anyone have precise dates? Presumably somewhere in / shortly after 1988 when the motorway construction had moved down that far.

I think Simon's right, it's difficult to measure a few yards even on a 1:25000 map but to me it looks like the new bridge was built just to the North of the existing line and the track was slewed over.

I hope this link will show the 1952 map

Compare the boundary line with the latest map 

You have to zoom in on the maps after you've clicked on the links. on the latest map you will also need to change to Ordnance survey and zoom right in to get the 1:25000 scale.

I hope you can see what I mean!


After discussions with Nick, I've also been looking more closely at this. If you look at the satellite image of the stretch between the B4100 and the road just east of the M40, you can see the original double tree line which marks the original path of the line running a few yards south of the new track. It looks as if the 'shift' starts just east of the minor road  and then re-joins at the first set of points inside the Army Depot (a distance of approx. 1500 metres)

Simon Stevens said:

The 1:25000 OS map shows a kink to the new alignment over the M40 bridge, under the B4100 and in to the DSDA depot, a distance of about 0.7 miles.  It doesn't look such a kink on the aerial view but you can see the original alignment on the south side of the new line.  I guess it was easier to raise the railway than lower the motorway.

Even so, the motorway forms the lowest point in the local area, as was proven on Maunday Thursday, 1998, when very large puddles formed, resulting in long queues in both directions (effectively only the outside lanes were clear, and on the southbound side not completely so). I remember that afternoon vividly: we were heading north and I had been persuaded by my wife not to use my favoured alternative route to the M40, which involved coming off at Banbury...

My M40 reminiscence might help with the construction date - I moved to Rowington in September 1989 and was able, on a Sunday afternoon shortly before the motorway opened, to cycle from near Hockley Heath to Junction 16, mostly in the lane three of the wrong direction!  There were chained up barriers every so often but one link of every chain had been replaced by a loop of fence wire so I got through easily and must have looked like I was meant to be there as I was ignored by a couple of Police cars.  Happy days.

I think there was a problem with the road surface south of Warwick so this section didn't open until some time later. I remember the local newspaper headline 'M-Faulty'.

Construction and opening dates here:

The Motorway Archive. M40. Waterstock (J8A) to Umberslade (M42 - J3A)


I think you can see the start of the deviation in the distance in Nigel's photo here:


I think that you are correct - this would be about the right place.

Thanks to all for your thoughts on this one - I think that we've got it more or less bottomed out now. However, an exact date of the changeover of route would be useful - I doubt that the line would have been allowed to have been cut for any length of time,  presumably being considered strategically important?

The changeover could have been made pretty quickly if the new route over the bridge was laid alongside the old and then just connected up - anyone know if that was the case? 

Meantime- on to something completely different................

Looking at published photos of the area near the M40 rail bridge mention is made of the track being

" very modern in appearance for a freight line with deep ballast and continuously welded rails."

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