‘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.

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Rolling Stock


A full list of the East & West Junction locomotive fleet is given below and while this is not a complete list of all East & West Junction engines, it will at least give some indication of the classes used on E&WJR services between Blisworth, Towcester and Stratford-upon-Avon around 1895-1900.

East & West Junction Railway locomotives used on N&BJR c1896
  • 1 0-6-0ST Manning Wardle 1866 sold 1910
  • 1 2-4-0T Yorkshire Engine Co. sold for colliery use 1895
  • 2 0-6-0 Beyer Peacock 1880 to LMS 2300
  • 3 0-6-0 Beyer Peacock 1881 to LMS 2301
  • 4 0-6-0 Beyer Peacock 1885 to LMS 2302
  • 5 2-4-0T Beyer Peacock 1885 sold to WD 1916
  • 6 2-4-0T Beyer Peacock 1885 sold to WD 1916
  • 7 0-6-0 LNWR 1863 withdrawn 1920
  • 8 0-6-0 LNWR 1863 sold c1910
  • 9 0-6-0 LNWR 1866 sold 1903
  • 10 0-6-0 Beyer Peacock 1895 to LMS 2304
  • 11 0-6-0 Beyer Peacock 1896 to LMS 2305
  • 12 0-6-0 Beyer Peacock 1900 to LMS 2306
  • Further Beyer Peacock 0-6-0s acquired by the S&MJR between 1903 and 1908 also survived long enough to be numbered into LMS stock. as did a Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 No, 13 which became LMS No. 290.
  • A secondhand 0-6-0 Jumbo from the LBSCR acquired in 1920 and numbered 7 was allocated LMS No. 2303.
  • The last SM&JR locomotives were withdrawn in 1930 by which time the LMS was competing with the GWR for freight traffic from London to Bristol by using the S&MJR route.

Further Beyer Peacock 0-6-0s acquired by the S&MJR between 1903 and 1908 also survived long enough to be numbered into LMS stock. as did a Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 No, 13 which became LMS No. 290. A secondhand 0-6-0 Jumbo from the LBSCR acquired in 1920 and numbered 7 was allocated LMS No. 2303. The last SM&JR locomotives were withdrawn in 1930 by which time the LMS was competing with the GWR for freight traffic from London to Bristol by using the S&MJR route.

The following information comes with thanks from: © Steamindex.com

This small railway had great ambitions for carrying ironstone from Northamptonshire to South Wales, but the 1866 economic crisis had extinguished all hopes of an immediate commencement of the extension schemes, and with only four miles of their line in operation, the disappointed Midland & South Wales Directors were obliged to focus greater attention on the short section of railway between Blisworth and Towcester. Initial thoughts of an arrangement with the LNWR had to be abandoned, and the Directors decided to purchase their own locomotives, and a contract was accordingly placed with Neilson & Co. of Glasgow for two 0-4-2Ts and two 0-4-2 tender engines.

In the meantime, there was an urgent need for motive power for use on the Towcester line, and as an interim measure the Directors hired at least one locomotive from I.W. Boulton . The locomotive involved in this deal was a typical Sharp Roberts 2-2-2 that Boulton had purchased from the LNWR for £240 in March 1866, but on arrival at Blisworth it was found to have a cracked cylinder. The 2-2-2 was returned to Boulton at Ashton-under-Lyne, and it appears that a replacement was provided by Boulton's friend Thomas Wheatley who had recently purchased a selection of locomotives from the Monkland & Kirkintilloch Railway near Glasgow. It is conceivable that one, or perhaps two, of these Scottish veterans found their way to Northamptonshire, but precise details remain elusive. It is known, however, that one of the first engines used on the line between Blisworth and Towcester was a decrepit antique known as The Owl, and this locomotive may have been a Wheatley supplied engine.

The opening of the line coincided with the collapse of Overend & Gurney and a resulting economic crisis, and this meant that the railway could not afford the Neilson engines and the railway had to hire motive power from the LNWR.

The East & West Junction services between Blisworth, Towcester and Stratford added further interest to the locomotive scene, and it would be useful, therefore, to make some mention of the kind of E&WJR engines seen on the eastern section of the N&BJR line.

In contrast to the Northampton & Banbury Junction, the E&WJR always worked its own train services, and for this purpose the company assembled a diverse collection of locomotives. The first engine used on the line was a Manning Wardle 0-6-0 saddle tank that had been purchased from Thomas Russell Crampton, the line's contractor. Of typical Manning Wardle design, this former contractor's locomotive dated from 1866, and became No. 1 Kineton in the East & West Junction locomotive list.

The E&WJR hoped to work its line with a fleet of six Beyer Peacock 0-6-0s (more correctly 3 0-6-0s and 3 2-4-0Ts), but although the engines concerned actually worked on the line for several months, the company found that it could not afford to pay for them, and these modern locomotives were subsequently sold to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. Thereafter the East & West Junction line was operated by a strange assortment of hired or borrowed engines, among them two French-built locomotives obtained from Thomas Brassey & Company.

Both of the French engines appeared on the N&BJR line. Although precise details are scarce, it seems that these European locomotives had originally been obtained by Brassey in connection with a contract in the Savoy Region. Both are likely to have been purchased from Le Chemin de Fer de Rhone et Loire in 1858; No. 4A, an outside cylinder 2-4-0 tender engine, was used on passenger services between Blisworth and Stratford until 1879, when it was transferred to the Stratford to Broom line. The engine was apparently named Ceres . Its companion, an 0-6-0 tender engine, worked goods traffic between Blisworth and Stratford until about 1880, when it was rebuilt as a saddle tank and sold to the Bute Trustees for use at Cardiff Docks. The engine was numbered 5A in the E&WJR list, and may have retained its original name La Savoie in East & West Junction service.

The use of European engines must have added an exotic element to East & West Junction operations, and this exoticism was accentuated when, in 1876, the company purchased two Fairlie engines from the Yorkshire Engine Company. The Fairlie double-bogie concept was, at that time, still something of a novelty, but the E&WJR Directors may have hoped that a powerful 0-6-6-0 would have been able to handle the heavy ore traffic that was still confidently expected to materialise. No. 1 was a classic "double-ended" 0-6-6-0 , while No. 2 was,a single boiler Fairlie; it is of interest to note that the 0-6-6-0 was the first engine with Walschaerts valve gear to be used in the United Kingdom.

The Fairlies were sold in 1878, and thereafter the East & West Junction line was operated with the aid of further hired or borrowed engines of various types. In 1880 the company purchased an 0-6-0 goods engine from Beyer Peacock & Co. of Manchester, and this initial purchase heralded the start of a long association with this well-known manufacturer. The new engine became No. 2 in the East & West Junction list; it had 17 in. X 24 in. cylinders and 4 ft 6 in. wheels, together with a polished brass dome and other typical Beyer Peacock features.

Further engines of the same general type were delivered at intervals between 1881 and the end of the century, and by 1900 the E&WJR was operating five similar 0-6-0s, together with two standard Beyer Peacock 2-4-OTs. There were, in addition, three former LNWR 'DX' class 0-6-0s that had been purchased in 1891/2 for use on the through MR goods trains between Olney, Towcester and Stratford. Two years earlier, in August 1888, the E&WJR had purchased a second-hand 2-4-0T from the Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway, but this engine was later sold to the Cannock & Rugeley Collieries.

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