‘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

Funny Story about Kineton Military Railway 1 Reply

An improbable, funny, but absolutely true story relating to the Kineton military railway.Long after my Army days I still retained an affection and passing interest in Kineton ammunition depot where I served during the 1960s. Coupled to a 'love' of…Continue

Started by Dave Hayward. Last reply by Dave Hayward Apr 28.

Blisworth - Towcester ETS working

Electric train staff equipment had been brought into use between Blisworth and Towcester by 9 August 1910 (date of SMJR minute 451 (TNA file RAIL 674/3)) and presumably the new signal box at Blisworth appeared at the same time. In that this was so…Continue

Started by Richard Maund Apr 20.

Blisworth 1920

SMJ board minute 1474 of 13 April 1921 (TNA file RAIL 674/4) approved that “the following expenditure be charged to Capital” for year 1920: “Blisworth: Signalling and alterations to Permanent Way, Improvements and additional signalling: £800”. In…Continue

Started by Richard Maund Apr 20.

SMJ photos

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I look at the adverts for the railwayana auction houses and see various stations represented in totem form and I was wondering, how many of "our" line still have totems/running in boards in existence?

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By coincidence I was at Towcester Museum today and was shown two running in boards from Towcester. They were at least 6' long of tin plate or similar and blue with white capital lettering. They reminded me of BR (Eastern Region) ones.

It's a subject I know nothing about but I've been through all the pictures I can find of Towcester and other stations and it looks like they date from SMJ times but were still in place in LMS days. E & WJR  ones seem to have had a white background with dark letters.

Does anyone have any specialist knowledge of SMJR running in boards?


Agreed - these blue & white enamelled(?) signs seem to have been in place post 1910, but started to be replaced after the late 1930's when the LMS introduced their standard "hawkseye" cast metal type, which then lasted to the end.

Picture 110 in "Branch lines around Towcester" probably shows one of the blue signs.

As far as I know the only SMJ line station to have anything more modern than the standard LMS sign was Towcester, which had at least one BR totem (see picture 114 in the same book, which is dated c1950 - goodness knows why that was provided so late in the day)

As far as "preserved" examples are concerned, perhaps the closures were too early - they would presumably soon have all been removed from the platforms after 1951/2. However I wouldn't rule out one or two lurking somewhere.

Although not quite SMJ I have seen one from Banbury Merton Street. 

I am pretty certain that Towcester was the only ex SMJ station to have a BR totem, there does not appear to be any record of others in various totem data nor any photographic evidence (known to me). I can confirm that all stations from Fenny Compton westwards except Burton Dassett did have LMS style Hawkseye signs. Most stations had at least four except Binton which had only two (both of which survive) and Bidford for which I have no details on any survivor. There are known survivors of all the others. The reason for lack of totems was surely that closure to passenger traffic was inevitable by very early BR days and they just didn't order any! The reason once offered to me by an employee for the Towcester exception was that it was thought possible that Towcester might retain a passenger service to and from Northampton via Blisworth after April 1952 but this came to nothing as we all know. Banbury (Merton Street) had at least four Hawkseyes two of which have been through auction in the recent past.


We ate at the recently reopened Three Horseshoes in Wixford yesterday, their decor has a railway theme with lots of posters and a Stratford upon Avon sign similar to the Towcester one Dick describes in the first post. Judging by it's perfect condition, I'd say it's a reproduction; I'm pleased that it might be an SMJR design though.

The meal was good too, recommended if anyone's looking for traditional pub food in the area.


One thing I particularly remember at Blakesley station was an oil lantern attached to a post by the gateway near the foot crossing onto the platform nearest the village. How it escaped undamaged to the end of the line in a village where the youths used to celebrate 5th November by stealing railway detonators and placing them in front of trains is amazing!  It was a bit like a gas streetlight in shape and had the name Blakesley in plain glass on a darker panel of glass so that the name lit up when illuminated. There had earlier been one on the other side of the foot crossing which disappeared in the late 50s. Neither light was lit up after passenger services finished in 1952. I can't remember any running in board or Hawkeye station sign at Blakesley in the 50s so they must have disappeared around the passenger closure date.  I wonder if any other SMJ stations had similar lanterns in place when the line finally closed.

One thing I think we can be pretty sure of is that for all the run-of-line stations the LMS Hawkeyes boards were the final ones used and were not replaced by British Railways totems in the short period between nationalisation and passenger closure.

There was definitely at least one totem at Towcester, photos exist.


I was looking at some photos of Blakesley in one of the late Doug Blake's local history books and discovered that Blakesley station at one time had a similar running board to the ones at Towcester Museum. It was mounted on the brickwork of the gable of the main station building. Another picture that I've recently been shown shows that during LMS days it definitely had 'Hawkeye' station sign boards one on each platform.


I went to the Three Horseshoes in Wixford for lunch today and they had an SMJR sign [probably a reproduction as it was perfect]

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