‘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"
I enjoyed reading your 50's memories of Banbury and Woodford. You asked where I was based. I didn't start spotting until 1958 but my regular spots were Banbury station (reached by a Thursdays only bus), Northampton Castle and Banburylane Crossing near Blisworth on the WCML.
Banbury had an 'Indian Summer' around 1960 when the Birmingham service was concentrated on the WR while electrification work took place on the WCML. I recall the expresses were almost exclusively King hauled while Castles monopolised the york - Bournemouth cross country expresses. 'Maindy Hall' seemed to be in permanent residence in the bay next to Platform 1. I knew a particular young character at Banbury ( known as 'Benny Hill' - not his real name) who used spend all day timing Kings back and forth from Banbury to Snow Hill. He knew all the footplate crews on the Old Oak and Wolverhampton top links and even though he was only about 16 much of his travelling done was unofficially on the footplate, much to the envy of the rest of us kids. Some say that he only used to buy a platform ticket, but I think his dad worked for the railway and he used to buy a cheap privilege return ticket to Snow Hill but not actually leave the station so that he could get at least a couple of return journeys in each day. Noone was going to check his ticket if he was on the footplate or if he was on the platform wearing overalls and covered in soot in any case!
The GC was visited at Charwelton where V2 and B16s were still regular on York -Woodford freights even in the early 60s. Woodford depot's turning triangle could be watched from the football field and I never personally had any problems 'crashing' the shed where mainly 9Fs WDs and LMS and GWR types were to be seen plus the odd B1.
Further afield Wellingborough and Peterborough's Nene Bridge car park (from where both the ECML and the ex LMS/GER route could be watched) were favourites.
Our school railway club ran trips all over the place, but best of all I had an uncle at Swindon who let me visit for a week each summer.
Some of the pictures I took in the 60s can be seen on Steamtube. Click on 'links' on this page, chose 'Steamtube'. When you get there click on 'members', then 'Dick' (I think I am on Page 3 ), then on the left side of my page click on 'photos' and you will find them. There are also some pictures taken recently at Banbury called 'Steak at Banbury' you'll be amazed at how little the station area had changed since the late 50's rebuilding.
Hi Barry - nice to have you on board! Funnily enough, you're not our first Australian ex-pat!
Thanks for the photos, I'd love to see you memories written down too. go to http://thesmjr.ning.com/page/smj-memories and once signed you can leave a comment, I look forward to reading it!