‘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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SMJ Forum

2F WDs working to Bristol

In the 1950s/60s we had a regular working of a 2F Woodford Halse WD to Bristol. I was always intrigued by how they got there. Does anybody know if that was via the SMJR please?Continue

Started by Bob Bishop on Friday.

Talk to Welford Local History Society

I live in Welford on Avon which now incorporates the former Binton Station with its recent housing development.The local history society is currently planning its 2022/23 programme of events and talks and would be keen to include a talk on the…Continue

Started by John Read Oct 8.

Broom Junction station site for sale 2 Replies

Great opportunity for an SMJ enthusiast perhaps.  I'm not sure what you could actually do with this site though!…Continue

Started by Simon Stevens. Last reply by Simon Stevens Oct 4.

Salvaged track bolts 2 Replies

Does any know if the bridges were numbered? Similar to how the canals number thier's. Because a few weeks ago I was magnet fishing under the if I bridge behind the bellebaulk housing estate in Towcester and pulled out a number of chair bolts and I…Continue

Started by John Godwin. Last reply by Russ Firth Oct 3.

SMJ photos

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After I'd posted myt comment on 'Slow, Moulding and Jolting', I saw the other entries and realised that local people had got other names for the line. Whilst is seems clear that they do not have a poetic ear, I bow to local knowledge and humbly accept that locally it was known as the Slow Miserable and Jolty. In the University City of Oxford it was named as I put it. I always thought it was a wonderfully mysterious railway and very romantic. The LMS ran express goods over it from St. Panctas to Bristol!. All these old contractor's ines, built as cheaply as possible but yet foll;owing very useful cross-country courses, were failures commercially but wonderfully evocative and generally magic. The King's Sutton Junction to Andoversford Jc line through Stow-on-the-Wold, the Midland & South Western Junction from Andoversford Jc to Andover (and Southampton) marvellous railways. My friend SId Mumford, born about 1920, was very keen on the SMJ and was very attracted to Cockley Brake Jc. for its remoteness which is magicalness. He was a Special Class signalman at Oxford. Great railways, great people, great days.

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It's almmost like what ever you can make up! Sausages Marmalade and Jam!
Andy
That is true enough, Andy. The nickname should have some slight it, alliterate nicely and bear sme resemblance - even fictional (is that possible?) to the railway. Slow Moulding and Jolting does this very well and Save me Jesus is pithy and refers, I suppose, to the interminable time that a stopping train took to make its journey across country, occasionally shunting horse boxes on and off as well as waiting for the single line here and there.

Over here we have the Muddle and Go Nowhere which is pretty sharp. Letters in the press before the Great War support this as to lack of punctuality - long miles of single line again.

At Swindon we had the 'Milk and Soda Water' but this does not fufill all the criteria for a good nickname. It was also known as the 'Piss and Vinegar' because of the smell in the carriages on Monday mornings after a week-end of carrying soldiers to their Salisbury Plain destinations. It was most commonly referred to as the 'Tiddly Dyke'.

There are various uses for the letters GWR - the worst of which by a hundred miles is 'God's Wonderful Railway'. Highly objectional because 'God' (if there is such a thing) had nothing to do with it, it was created and maintained by human sweat and ingenuity. The best of them being 'Gone WIth Regret.'
I must say I gravitiate to Slow Miserable and jolty - in my mind (as one who never rode, saw, or knew the line during its life) that's how I imagine the line to be!
Andy
Whilst I have heard locals refer to the "Slow, Mouldy & Jolting", the section of line from Ravenstone Wood to Towcester was (and its remains still are), known as "The Bread and Scrape" or "The Scratter". Both names would imply the general poverty of the line. To "scrat about" is Northamptonshire for scraping a living. ["Orl 'e can do these days is scrat about down the Labour] A more recent name for this section was "The Banana Line", a reference to the fast fitted freights from Avonmouth to Somers Town Goods, London, which were a feature of the line in LMS and BR(MR) days.

The names given to rural railways are indeed fascinating. Somehow you cannot see modern motor roads receiving the same sort of amused affection. Some that I remember from my youth were "The Klondyke" (Didcot, Newbury and Southampton line of the GWR), "The Drum and Monkey" (Kingham to Banbury via Chipping Norton), while trains themselves often received nicknames; The Blisworth and Dunstable "Dashers", the Daventry "Gusher" coming immediately to mind. Doubtless Adrian will recall such Great Western features as the Abingdon, Faringdon, Highworth and Wallingford "Bunks", the Lambourne "Dilly" and the Marlow "Donkey". By the time that I can recall them they were all either push-pull auto trains or Diesel railcars, but earlier pictures would indicate that, like most companies, the GWR regarded branch lines as a useful dumping ground for worn-out stock before they either went to the engineers department or the scrapyard. The SMJ was no exception, having at one time a wonderful example of a curved window ex-LNWR four wheeler and an early Midland bogie clerestory carriage of around 1876 vintage.

adrian vaughan said:
I like that one a lot - best ever.

A.

Sorry to resurrect an old thread but I was on the Helmdon Village Website when I noticed two references to the N&B station there as being on the "Nibble and Clink".  Their website search facility is very good for finding some really quite trivial details about the SMJ line, it's staff and the facilities.  

Si

Woodford Loco staff often referered to the SMJ as 'The Nibble'. Looks like that was just a shortened form of the title you have found out about on the Helmdon site. I wonder if it was Helmdon GC as opposed to Helmdon SMJ station staff that used the term and also I wonder what this strange title means?

Dick

As I've found 15 different nicknames tucked away on at least 4 different discussions, I think I will put together a new History Page with them all on for easy reference. I will acknowledge sources so please let me know if I miss out any nickname or any acknowledgement out. 

I'm  planning a page about the pickup goods and Byfield ironstone mineral train in the late 50s / 60s, so if anyone has details such as personel experience, signing on points or working timetables I would pleased to hear from them.

Dick

My dad always called it 'The Strawberry and Marrow Jam.'  I assumed it was common usage from somewhere, but it's a bit late to ask him now.  His dad was a signalman at the Banbury Lane crossing on the Northampton-Blisworth branch, so I would think it may be where he got it from. Anyway, derivation unknown, but usage definite,as other Blisworth folk seem to have heard it too.

George

George

My gran who lived at Blakesley used to call it that as well. I've credited your name on the Nicknames list in the History pages section.

 

I remember your grandfather's (although I didn't know him) crossing box which was quite small and was where the sharp bend now is just before the humped back bridge on the Rothersthorpe Road coming out of Northampton. In the 50s and early 60s often a few express trains that in those days used to stop at Northampton took this route back to the West Cost Main Line to avoid the heavily used main loop towards Roade. I remember seeing a Class 40 hauled express cross the road there just before the line closed. There's an amusing story in Derek Mutton's book 'Off Northampton Shed' about a crew abandoning a loco in steam bound for SMJ duty at the crossing so that they could dash off to watch The Cobblers play. The driver due to be taking over from them at Blisworth statiion lived in a house near the crossing so they blew the whistle until he appeared at a window then scarpered!

 

The famous Banburylane Crossing was the other side of Rothersthorpe and crossed the West Coast. The regular daytime signalman there in the 50s/ early 60s was called George and lived at Gayton or Blisworth. I used to spot there in the late 50s / early 60s and in a couple of months time there will be an article about it in 'On Shed' on this website's sister website Steam Tube.

 

Dick



Dick said:

George

My gran who lived at Blakesley used to call it that as well. I've credited your name on the Nicknames list in the History pages section.

 

I remember your grandfather's (although I didn't know him) crossing box which was quite small and was where the sharp bend now is just before the humped back bridge on the Rothersthorpe Road coming out of Northampton. In the 50s and early 60s often a few express trains that in those days used to stop at Northampton took this route back to the West Cost Main Line to avoid the heavily used main loop towards Roade. I remember seeing a Class 40 hauled express cross the road there just before the line closed. There's an amusing story in Derek Mutton's book 'Off Northampton Shed' about a crew abandoning a loco in steam bound for SMJ duty at the crossing so that they could dash off to watch The Cobblers play. The driver due to be taking over from them at Blisworth statiion lived in a house near the crossing so they blew the whistle until he appeared at a window then scarpered!

 

The famous Banburylane Crossing was the other side of Rothersthorpe and crossed the West Coast. The regular daytime signalman there in the 50s/ early 60s was called George and lived at Gayton or Blisworth. I used to spot there in the late 50s / early 60s and in a couple of months time there will be an article about it in 'On Shed' on this website's sister website Steam Tube.

 

Dick

Dick

Not really relevant to this site, but I took pics of the WCML Banbury Lane crossing whilst they were replacing it with that deviation and bridge.

You've described the location of Grandad's box perfectly. He died in 1924 so it's unlikely you would have known him ;)

Just for the record, I am sure the name on the box was Banbury Lane. I'll have to dig around and see if any of us took a photo of the box, among the thousands I have taken and inherited.

 

Great story about the 'shift change.' I can't place any houses close there, apart from canal ones. Of course it's all changed now. (Poor old landowners, generously 'developing' the town for the benefit of the London overspill, and the rest.)

 

George

George - yes it was Banbury Lane - went there myself to spot many a time when living at home watching the 80 series electrics whizz past. Also went in the box a few times as Dad knew the Signalman. Great times - it didn't half move when the trains hurtled through

George Coles said:

Dick

Not really relevant to this site, but I took pics of the WCML Banbury Lane crossing whilst they were replacing it with that deviation and bridge.

You've described the location of Grandad's box perfectly. He died in 1924 so it's unlikely you would have known him ;)

Just for the record, I am sure the name on the box was Banbury Lane. I'll have to dig around and see if any of us took a photo of the box, among the thousands I have taken and inherited.

 

Great story about the 'shift change.' I can't place any houses close there, apart from canal ones. Of course it's all changed now. (Poor old landowners, generously 'developing' the town for the benefit of the London overspill, and the rest.)

 

George

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