‘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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I'm trying to put together an article for the website collating as much information as possible about the pickup goods and Byfield to Blisworth ironstone trains and other workings east of Woodford in the latter days of the SMJ ie. after the closure of the Olney branch.

Although through freight working via the Olney line has been quite well covered in recent magazine articles and Rex Partridge did an excellent job of providing detail about Woodford to Stratford through workings in his recent Steam Days article, there's little detail about the bread and butter pick ups and mineral trains in published work.

I've picked up a lot of useful info from various people, especially about the morning Blisworth - Stratford pickups and the Round the World pickup, but what I am sadly lacking is working timetable times of trains.

I also need info about how the Northampton locos and crews worked to Blisworth to pick up these trains, did some of the pickups actually originate at Northampton for instance?

Also I have next to no info on how ironstone was brought from Blisworth quarry exchange sidings to Blisworth exchange sidings, did the Byfield ironstone train pick up and set down at this quarry or was it a separate working?

I seem to remember additional afternoon pickups and even Saturday workings coming through Blakesley in the late 50s and early 60s, did they go all the way to Stratford or just to Woodford West?

John Jennings is pretty sure that the Blisworth - Stratford pickups only ran on Mon/Wed /Fri towards the end, can any one confirm?

Ian Lyman travelled on a working from Northampton? or Blisworth? that only went as far as Woodford West towards the very end, was this a daily run? Ian sent me some details which I've accidently deleted, sorry Ian if you are reading this!

Does anyone have any info about the workings of often vandalised and possibly withdrawn coaching stock and wagons to the remains of the Towcester to Greens Norton Junction (old Banbury line siding) and the closed Towcester - Olney branch respectively.

I know that crews once signed on at Blisworth itself rather than Northampton, does anyone have any extra details?

 So to sum I would welcome absolutely any info that might be useful how ever insignificant it might seem.

Cheers

Dick Bodily

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Dick

 

I was very interested in your post as I had been thinking along the same lines. I would be interested in any details of the working timetables that you can uncover.

 

My observations on the SMJ were mainly in or near Blisworth from about 1961 to closure, and it seemed to me that traffic was always light. The western end from Woodford, particularly over the racecourse curve, was much busier it seems but the eastern end was quiet.

 

I would spend sessions of some hours at Blisworth mainly for the main line, and it was not uncommon for there to be no movements on the SMJ, although there could be several in a day. I would doubt that many trains were scheduled to run every day.

 

The first train that I really remember consisted of a single cattle truck and brake van. It left Blisworth and returned about an hour later, presumably it just went to Towcester.

 

I have no details of the workings but they seemed to be either through freights, pick up freights or iron ore. I presume that through freights ran to Stratford as a reversal would be needed to reach Woodford. I would think that Blisworth (still fairly important) was the destination rather than Northampton.

 

I am fairly certain that the iron ore traffic from Blisworth quarry was not handled by pick up freights, but rather as whole trains back to Blisworth. The yards at Blisworth usually had full and empty iron ore tipplers. I don't think the iron ore went west. I seem to remember reading somewhere that it went down the main line to the iron works at Etruria at Stoke. The line to the iron ore exchange sidings was the last part of the SMJ to survive until 1967.

 

I've been through my notes to check out the rather limited traffic on the SMJ. It is interesting that the motive power came from a variety of depots (mainly Northampton) including Saltley, Nottingham and Leicester (MR). On only one occasion did I see a Woodford loco (48349 in November 1963).

 

One anomaly was the presence on Northampton shed in April 1963 of 90137 and 76087, both from Woodford. However they were in poor condition and obviously hadn't got there under their own steam, and were probably en route for scrapping.

 

Hope some of this is useful.

 

Peter

 

 

Thanks Peter

The whole trains carrying ironstone probably came from Byfield, there was a round trip from Blisworth each day to take back empties then pick up loaded ones. These wagons definitely went on to Eritrea at about 2am the next night. What I'm wondering is whether or not these Byfield trains also picked up from Blisworth Quarry exchange sidings.

The cattle truck working is very interesting as it was unusual although on rare occasions the cattle docks at Towcester & Blakesley still were used.

Woodford's WD 90137 wasn't officially withdrawn until December 1962, 76087 stayed at 2F until Nov 1963 and wasn't withdrawn until 1967. They may have worked to Northampton as replacements on the SMJ pickup or the Byfield ironstone but what is more likely is that one at least  was on its way to Rugby 2A, then Woodford's principal area shed, for work that couldn't be done at 2F. Such movements took place on Saturday morning via the SMJ and usually a 2F WD would tow the engine that was going for repair.

All the best and thanks again

Dick 

Hi Dick

My 1961 Summer freight Working TT shows that the SMJ pick up freights did not call at Blisworth Ironstone sidings.

The sidings were worked by a 9.45am Monday Weds only class F from Blisworth to convey empties, arrival there 9.50am

This originated as a light engine from Northampton shed departing 8.10am MWO, coupled on those days to another light engine which then worked the 8.55am daily (Sats Exc) Blisworth to Woodford.

Blisworth ironstone siding loaded traffic was then worked back down by a 10.20am MWO Class J arriving Blisworth 10.25am obviously using the same loco.

There was then a 12.45pm MWO Blisworth to Frodingham train, and the empties returned at 6.27pm MWO as the 7.26am dep from Frodingham

At least this was the situation in 1961 - it may have varied at other dates. I will (eventually) tabulate the other SMJ workings from this WTT and let you have them - the WTT strangely operated as a Thrpaston to Blisworth section (inc Northampton) and a Blisworth to Fenny Compton section (end of LMR control).

I've written some articles on SMJ recollections for Railway Bylines that should see print in the autumn - but now I've read these WTT's properly I might have to re-write some of them !

I've also got (somewhere) some engine arrangements books from Northampton shed which I know shows the locos going over to Blisworth for SMJ traffic - and the names of the crews - and the above clears up a mystery for me in that I always wondered why two light engines went off together in the morning to Blisworth. I seem to recall that they were both 21D locos, but I'll have to check that - also I think that only one crew was named, so was the other crewed by Stratford men? Or perhaps it was just he days of the week when only one loco was required that was confusing me.

Hope this helps provide some of the answers - I'll dig out other details in due course

 

Regards

Barry

Barry

Thanks a lot, fantastic stuff. I wonder if the 9.45 went on to Byfield to pick up from there. I really appreciate your help as I've not been able to contribute much detailed info myself but I'm anxious to put together whats known about the various pickups and ironstones before its too late. I've had a lot of help regarding Byfield ironstone workings & 'Round the World' pickups from Rex but even he hasn't got details of timetabled times. I've also spoken on the phone to Charlie Dilkes who told me quite a bit about the Pickups, the rest of material I've picked up from various contributors to this website.

All the best

Dick

 

 Barry Taylor said:

Hi Dick

My 1961 Summer freight Working TT shows that the SMJ pick up freights did not call at Blisworth Ironstone sidings.

The sidings were worked by a 9.45am Monday Weds only class F from Blisworth to convey empties, arrival there 9.50am

This originated as a light engine from Northampton shed departing 8.10am MWO, coupled on those days to another light engine which then worked the 8.55am daily (Sats Exc) Blisworth to Woodford.

Blisworth ironstone siding loaded traffic was then worked back down by a 10.20am MWO Class J arriving Blisworth 10.25am obviously using the same loco.

There was then a 12.45pm MWO Blisworth to Frodingham train, and the empties returned at 6.27pm MWO as the 7.26am dep from Frodingham

At least this was the situation in 1961 - it may have varied at other dates. I will (eventually) tabulate the other SMJ workings from this WTT and let you have them - the WTT strangely operated as a Thrpaston to Blisworth section (inc Northampton) and a Blisworth to Fenny Compton section (end of LMR control).

I've written some articles on SMJ recollections for Railway Bylines that should see print in the autumn - but now I've read these WTT's properly I might have to re-write some of them !

I've also got (somewhere) some engine arrangements books from Northampton shed which I know shows the locos going over to Blisworth for SMJ traffic - and the names of the crews - and the above clears up a mystery for me in that I always wondered why two light engines went off together in the morning to Blisworth. I seem to recall that they were both 21D locos, but I'll have to check that - also I think that only one crew was named, so was the other crewed by Stratford men? Or perhaps it was just he days of the week when only one loco was required that was confusing me.

Hope this helps provide some of the answers - I'll dig out other details in due course

 

Regards

Barry

Hi again Dick

One important thing I omitted - there was also a light engine off Northampton shed at 2.10am Tues Weds Thurs only to arrive at 2.30am to work the 3.35am Blisworth to Etruria. This train ran straight up the main line, pausing at Heyford Loop, and changed engines at Nuneaton. Strangely I cannot see any sign of empties returning from this one. It might be that they were tripped over from Northampton Down sidings as there are one or two workings from there to Blisworth - or maybe even attached to the returning Frodingham empties at Northampton.

There is no indication for the 9.45 to be extended to Byfield, so I doubt if that happened, at least not in 1961. However the WTT does show an engine & brake running from Woodford west Junc to Byfield ironstone Sats excepted at 10.00 - booked to take water at Byfield station 10.07 to 10.12 - arrives at the siding 10.17. This then returns as the 10.50 SX class K to Blisworth, arriving 12.55 having called only at Towcester. This will be the loco off the 8.55 Blisworth to Woodford West which arrived there at 9.50am. There was also a SX 1.35pm Blisworth to Woodford West class G Engine & brake arriving there 2.35 having only stopped at Towcester , returning as the 3.0pm class K straight through to Blisworth, arriving 3.55, with no stops en route. On sats only, the 8.55am from Blisworth came back as the 11.15 from Woodford west, there being no Byfield ironstone job on that day

Blakesley was served by the Stratford trains only on weekdays and on Sats by the above working

Cheers

Barry

Thanks again Barry and sorry to bother you with another question

Do you have WTT times for the Stratford pickup leaving Blisworth and arriving at Stratford and the opposite working or had these finished by 1961? Byfield times would be very useful too. John Jennings is pretty sure that these workings were  MWF only towards the end at least.

The Eritrea 1961 WTT time is interesting as it is later than the 2.08am time that it departed earlier in the 50s.

 

Thanks again

 

Dick

Barry Taylor said:

Hi again Dick

One important thing I omitted - there was also a light engine off Northampton shed at 2.10am Tues Weds Thurs only to arrive at 2.30am to work the 3.35am Blisworth to Etruria. This train ran straight up the main line, pausing at Heyford Loop, and changed engines at Nuneaton. Strangely I cannot see any sign of empties returning from this one. It might be that they were tripped over from Northampton Down sidings as there are one or two workings from there to Blisworth - or maybe even attached to the returning Frodingham empties at Northampton.

There is no indication for the 9.45 to be extended to Byfield, so I doubt if that happened, at least not in 1961. However the WTT does show an engine & brake running from Woodford west Junc to Byfield ironstone Sats excepted at 10.00 - booked to take water at Byfield station 10.07 to 10.12 - arrives at the siding 10.17. This then returns as the 10.50 SX class K to Blisworth, arriving 12.55 having called only at Towcester. This will be the loco off the 8.55 Blisworth to Woodford West which arrived there at 9.50am. There was also a SX 1.35pm Blisworth to Woodford West class G Engine & brake arriving there 2.35 having only stopped at Towcester , returning as the 3.0pm class K straight through to Blisworth, arriving 3.55, with no stops en route. On sats only, the 8.55am from Blisworth came back as the 11.15 from Woodford west, there being no Byfield ironstone job on that day

Blakesley was served by the Stratford trains only on weekdays and on Sats by the above working

Cheers

Barry

Hi Dick

I've scanned the relevant page (attached) from the WTT and this should give you all of the details for the Blisworth to Fenny C section, where the line passed into the WR WTT. The Blisworth to Northampton bit is more complex as it spreads over many pages - but if you need any details from that just let me know

 

Cheers

Barry

Attachments:
Thanks Barry this will do nicely. Very useful.

Dick

 

I have sent a reply but it does not appear here - has it gone astray?

 

John

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