‘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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I wondered that too Jim - there is an earlier timetable with just Warwick Road shown, and I suspect that the publisher just added North End without knowledge of where it was located in relation to the others.

I still wonder why Bradshaw's included these stations when the local newspapers never did- presumably they both got their information from the same source ie: the railway company themselves.

John Jennings has made the point that North End / Warwick Road are in a sort of "fringe" area for early newspaper circulation - part of the locality looks towards Banbury, and also Stratford, as well as Leamington where I have found the references. Perhaps papers from those towns might produce something else- unfortunately they are not on the Historic Newspapers website !
 
Jim Goodman said:

Thanks for all your hard work at Kew. It does look like there were two stations.

One thing I don't get is that North End and Warwick Road appear to be the wrong way round. Surely, after leaving Kineton, Warwick Road would be the first station reached and then North End.

I suppose it could simply be a printing error.

Jim.

Good work Barry, and good to see the 2 stations in print in an official timetable.

So, where does this leave us ? I find it hard to believe that Bradshaws would have omitted 2 stations on a newly opened line for 9 months or 9 possible entries. Another possible error that all this has thrown up is that the earlier statement of passenger stations closing between 1877 - 1885, between Fenny Compton and Kineton is wrong. Another source stated that all stations between Blisworth and Stratford-on-Avon were closed between these dates. Clinker states that only the stations between Green's Norton junction and Stratford-on-Avon were closed for passenger traffic between 1/08/1877 to 22/02/1885, that is the whole of the East & West Junction railway. No mention has ever been made of Blisworth and Towcester stations ever closing during this time, however Stratford station DID close for passenger traffic between these dates, although 22/03/1885 is stated, a possible error.

Supposing Warwick Road was similar to North End, not a station as such but a halt similar to Tiffield, consisting of, we believe, stepped sleepers ?

Slightly off track, there is a map reference to Bidford Siding dated 1885, presumably in place when the line opened. The siding was used for distributing harvested plums from the area, but seems to be out of use or disappeared by 1900. Note the similarity on the map between this siding and the platform / siding at North End.

Bidford is an interesting one too. I've seen that map and I agree that it looks very similar to the "siding" at North End.

Having said that it seems that Bidford opened as a station around 1881 - it certainly wasn't there from the start as was Binton. Possibly the map indicates a small platform, but it's strange that it is called "siding" rather than "station" as it should have been open at that date, even allowing for the map having been surveyed a few years earlier than dated, as was often the case.

The brickworks siding opened more or less with the line itself, and was then extended to two sidings later.

The other siding, which was behind the station platform, is hardly ever mentioned in print - however it was definitely there - but was certainly not out of use by 1900. There is a photo which just shows it in the background, which I've seen with various dates, but the most likely looks about 1921-there are even a few empty fruit baskets laying about to confirm what it was used for.

I haven't been able to find out definitely when it closed, and later pics just show a fenced off area where it used to leave the running line just beyond the platform end.

Bidford station did also close for a few years in the First World War as an economy measure.

Having looked at later maps, Bidford Siding then becomes Bidford Station on the 1900 map but the "siding" has disappeared. On a map of 1922 it then becomes Bidford on Avon Station, still no "siding" but a black rectangle denoting the station by the side of the line. I would imagine that the reason this siding was named on the 1885 map was because it was still in use? But then North End should have been still in use as this did not close until 1887, unless it was not a siding?



NIGEL said:

Slightly off track, there is a map reference to Bidford Siding dated 1885, presumably in place when the line opened. The siding was used for distributing harvested plums from the area, but seems to be out of use or disappeared by 1900. Note the similarity on the map between this siding and the platform / siding at North End.


Sorry but I don't see that the above extract plan shows a siding behind what became the platform that was to the west (left) of the road overbridge - the only siding is the one east of the bridge which started life as the Canada brickworks siding of 1879 (see BoT inspection report at Kew MT6/240/11) and later became a public goods depot.
And where is the photo that allegedly shows such a siding? At which end of the platform is it claimed to have joined the running line?



NIGEL said:

Clinker states that only the stations between Green's Norton junction and Stratford-on-Avon were closed for passenger traffic between 1/08/1877 to 22/02/1885, that is the whole of the East & West Junction railway.

In fact, the date of 22 Feb 1885 is an error: services resumed 2 March 1885 (Nuneaton Advertiser 21 Feb)

Further to the discussion on Bidford –

I think that the use of the word ‘siding’ on the early OS map might be a red-herring? I seem to remember seeing somewhere a discussion (maybe RCHS?) on the use of that word to describe some early halts or platforms where there was actually no additional trackwork present.

However, there certainly was a siding at Bidford apart from the one at the Canada brickworks. This was behind the platform and is confirmed by the attached picture. There is however some question about the date of the view, which cannot be earlier than 1909 when the suffix ‘on Avon’ was added to the station name.

In 1909 the SMJR Traffic Manager reported that their own goods facilities at Bidford were no longer sufficient for the traffic being handled, and they arranged for the use of the brickworks siding on a  cost-per-wagon basis. Did this mean that they had outgrown this siding behind the platform, although it still seems to still be in use after 1909 with baskets being seen alongside?

The siding seems to have fallen between OS surveys – it is not there in the 1880s or on the 1920s survey; similarly it is not referred to in various WTTs that I have seen ranging from 1890 through to 1912.

The SMJ did consider buying extra land to the south side of the station from the local County Council to increase their facilities, but then instead purchased the brickworks siding in 1919. Was the mystery siding used as a stopgap until that date, as it could probably have been constructed cheaply on their own land within the limits of deviation?

Certainly the new SMJ management seems to have operated more aggressively after 1909 and my guess would be that they provided the siding to encourage local growers to use their station instead of other nearby Midland or GWR stations – the siding would then have been unnecessary after 1919 with the brickworks siding being used instead, thus not appearing on the 1920s OS survey.

I've responded to this under a new heading : Bidford-on-Avon.

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