‘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


There was a public level crossing between Blakesley and Morton Pinkney, complete with a gatehouse.Does anyone know how this was operated?Presumably the gates must have been manual and kept closed against road traffic.Early Working Timetables mention…Continue

Started by Barry Taylor. Last reply by Barry Taylor on Sunday.

1959 rail tour 1 Reply

Also full details and timings of this tour on --rail tours 1959-- website with some nice photos of 45091

Started by ray w. Last reply by Simon Stevens Oct 1.

Sunday 9th August 1959 "Grafton " rail tour

Just found this ticket for above rail tour around East Midlands taking in Blisworth, Byfield and Woodford Halse, where 45091 was used. There is a fascinating account of this round trip from Kings Cross on the RCTS website Watford Branch Newsletter…Continue

Started by ray w Sep 29.

SMJ rides again? Broom to Stratford Greenway Proposal

From Bidford on Avon Parish council comes news of the Avon and Arrow Greenway Project whose latest newsletter is here: August 2020 AAGP…Continue

Started by Simon Stevens Sep 14.

SMJ photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All

Towcester's Box





By Bob Stevens

" I suppose Towcester station was fairly unusual in that although two tracks entered the station and two left at the other end, they were all single lines so that freight entered and departed from and to four different destinations.

This caused quite a bit of shunting off the main tracks and into the yard, removing wagons for Towcester or onward transmission to destinations other than those which that particular train was bound. The signal box was obviously quite involved in these movements although in the yard, ground frames were mainly used.

The box itself, like many others, was heated by a little coal stove which also served to boil kettles, heat saucepans and cook toast. As coal was not supplied in the summer fuel at this time was obtained from the tenders of 3f Johnson/Deely and 4f Fowler 0-6-0's which, in my time there, were the only form of motive power I saw.

A staff system was in use on all four lines and, as far as I can recall, Towcester being the main and largest station on the lines all trains changed staff's there. The signalman could stand on the steps of the box to give and receive the staff from Blisworth to Banbury trains but had to cross the tracks for trains in the other direction.

The box had windows at either end and all along the side facing the station booking office, pump room and porter/shunters room. I think there were windows at the far end facing the sheep or cattle pens off the Tiffield road. The frames in which the staff's were locked were just inside the door on the right as you entered the box from the steps.

From the box you had a view past the water tower, over the bridge carrying the tracks over the A5 and to the tracks curving away to the right before they seperated. You also looked over the platform passenger hut to the turntable. Directly opposite the box were the two corrugated iron, lamp and parrafin huts and behind them a loading bay frequently used for Racehorses from the Towcester Racetrack. This bay was protected by catch points.

Looking in the Blisworth direction one had a view as far as the Tiffield Rd. overbridge where the Roade line curved away to that destination. Slightly left of that was the entrance to the cutting carrying the Blisworth line.

There were fixed distant signals on all four approaches to Towcester requiring the maintenance of parrafin lamps for 24/7 duty and it was a good walk out to them when brake van rides were not available. All home signals were operated from the box as were all the points within the station and starter signals with the exception of the aforementioned ground frames."

Towcester Box Frame layout
  • 1. Dolly - Exit from up sidings and catch point
  • 2. Points - Catch from up sidings to up main
  • 3. Dolly - entry to up sidings
  • 4. -
  • 5. -
  • 6. Signal - Up from stratford to platform 1
  • 7. Signal - Up starter
  • 8. Signal - Blisworth
  • 9. Signal - Ravenstone Wood
  • 10. Dolly - Exit from carrage platform
  • 11. Points - Catch/exit from carriage platform to up main
  • 12. Dolly - Up main to carrage platform
  • 13. Interlock - Points, Blisworth up/Ravenstone Wood up
  • 14. points - Down main from Blisworth
  • 15. Points - Down main from Ravenstone wood
  • 16. -
  • 17. Signal - Up from Banbury to station
  • 18. Signal - Up from Stratford to down yard
  • 19. Interlock - Up to down main
  • 20. Points - Up to down main
  • 21. Points - Up entry tp platform 3/2
  • 22. Signal - Up entry to platform 2
  • 23. Signal - Up entry to platform 3
  • 24. Signal - Up platform 3 starter to Ravenstone Wood
  • 25. Signal - Up platform 3 starter to Blisworth
  • 26. Signal - Up entry to down yard
  • 27. -
  • 28. Point - Down yard
  • 29. Dolly - Down exit from down yard
  • 30. Interlock - with 28/29
  • 31. Dolly - entry to down yard platform 3
  • 32. Points - Down yard
  • 33. Dolly - Exit from headshunt
  • 34. Dolly - Up exit from goods shed
  • 35. Points - Down yard
  • 36. Points - Down entry to platform 2/3
  • 37. Points - Down from Blisworth/Ravenstone wood
  • 38. Interlock - Down from Blisworth/Ravenstone Wood
  • 39. Interlock - Down from Ravenstone Wood
  • 40. Dolly - Down entry to down yard
  • 41. Signal - down starter to Stratford
  • 42. Signal - Down starter to banbury
  • 43. Signal - Down entry to platform 3
  • 44. Signal - down entry to platform 2
  • 45. Signal - Down starter to Stratford
  • 46. Signal - Down starter to Banbury
  • 47. Signal - Down entry from Ravenstone Wood
  • 48. -
  • 49. Signal - Down entry from Blisworth
  • 50. -

Towcester's Signal Box.1964 by J Cosford.

Find more photos like this on "The Unofficial SMJ Society" at www.smj.me

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of The SMJ Society to add comments!

Join The SMJ Society

© 2020   Created by Andy Thompson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service