‘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

Video: Stratford-upon-Avon to Towcester

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Started by Graham Ward Jul 28.

Binton Station

As I was in the vicinity this week I visited my old stamping ground of over sixty years ago, the former SMJ station at Binton. The former goods shed has been demolished, 24 upmarket dwellings have been constructed in the old yard and the former…Continue

Started by Paul Stratford Apr 23.

Would the GCR have gone via Towcester? 14 Replies

Looking through Mac Hawkins book on the GCR then and now, he mentions that the GCR were thinking of running a line connecting Brackley to Northampton and had provisionally made a mound ready for a platform to be later constructed but they dropped…Continue

Started by Gary. Last reply by Andrew Emmerson Apr 18.

EWJR Portland Cement Wagon 13 Replies

Hello All,I found this item on ebay, although it's a model, what I'd like to know is, was it actually based on the real thing? As you can see it has the initials EWJR and return empty to Ettington, which all fits in with the real world.It was listed…Continue

Started by Jim Goodman. Last reply by Jim Goodman Apr 18.

SMJ photos

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Hello everybody,

Hopefully you can settle an argument for me.

I was chatting to an acquaintance yesterday after looking at a photo of a pannier tank at SUA GWR Station  and l said it looks like the fifties and was definitely not later than 1967 as steam had finished there by then and they said that they remember steam engines shunting around at SMJ station in 1968/69. After telling them that steam finished on BR in 1968 and that Stratford SMJ Goods station closed in 1965 they said that was not right.

So, basically, can anyone tell me the date of the last train at Stratford SMJ station and also what was the date the last steam engine worked there.

Looking forward to replies,

kind regards

Rob Davidson

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The line through Old Town ceased to see trains from 1 March 1965 when the ironstone traffic from Banbury to South Wales was diverted via Hatton (although the signal boxes remained staffed and the line notionally open until 5 July 1965). The line was severed - thus inaccessible - from 22 August 1966. It may have been that there were rail-borne movements at Old Town subsequent to this for lifting the line.

I suspect that your acquaintance may be confusing Old Town SMJ station with the original GWR station - latterly a goods depot - at Birmingham Road, which remained in use for goods traffic until its closure from 6 May 1968.

Richard  Maund



Richard Maund said:

The line through Old Town ceased to see trains from 1 March 1965 when the ironstone traffic from Banbury to South Wales was diverted via Hatton (although the signal boxes remained staffed and the line notionally open until 5 July 1965). The line was severed - thus inaccessible - from 22 August 1966. It may have been that there were rail-borne movements at Old Town subsequent to this for lifting the line.

I suspect that your acquaintance may be confusing Old Town SMJ station with the original GWR station - latterly a goods depot - at Birmingham Road, which remained in use for goods traffic until its closure from 6 May 1968.

Richard  Maund

Thank you Richard

I can categorically confirm that apart from the demolition trains the very last working over the section of the former SMJ main line between Stratford and Burton Dassett was the SLS special that ran on 24.4.65. This is well documented. It nearly didn't happen because as the line had been out of use for several weeks the district civil engineer gave 26.4.65 as the final day he would sanction traffic movements and the special was hastily arranged. The last steam loco to use the section was 44188 although the special was double headed by 6435 also as far as Old Town station. The crew of the pannier tank offered to continue but the ex LMS crew of the 4F refused and took what was an overweight load for the section for a 4F on its own! They told me a few days later that it was only the benefit of a coating of rust on the rails that helped matters along. It was also the rust on the railhead that had delayed assembling the special at Stratford. When the 1960 chord linking the SMJ to the GW line was built the revised layout was heavily protected by track circuit enabled interlocking but with lack of use it failed to detect when sections were occupied. The special had to be authorised by an inspector phoning Evesham Road box to confirm each movement. ( see my page if you want more info on the complex nature of the triangle of lines ). During the phoney period of closure when there was a bobby with nothing to do at Clifford Sidings a trip working was made by the GW line banking loco once a day to change the water churn and I cannot say for sure that if anyone was on duty at Clifford after the 24.4.65 whether a water churn trip was made, if so that small section of track would have seen movement after the special! All parked and crippled trucks were cleared from Old Town yard prior to 24.4.65.

John



John Jennings said:

I can categorically confirm that apart from the demolition trains the very last working over the section of the former SMJ main line between Stratford and Burton Dassett was the SLS special that ran on 24.4.65. This is well documented. It nearly didn't happen because as the line had been out of use for several weeks the district civil engineer gave 26.4.65 as the final day he would sanction traffic movements and the special was hastily arranged. The last steam loco to use the section was 44188 although the special was double headed by 6435 also as far as Old Town station. The crew of the pannier tank offered to continue but the ex LMS crew of the 4F refused and took what was an overweight load for the section for a 4F on its own! They told me a few days later that it was only the benefit of a coating of rust on the rails that helped matters along. It was also the rust on the railhead that had delayed assembling the special at Stratford. When the 1960 chord linking the SMJ to the GW line was built the revised layout was heavily protected by track circuit enabled interlocking but with lack of use it failed to detect when sections were occupied. The special had to be authorised by an inspector phoning Evesham Road box to confirm each movement. ( see my page if you want more info on the complex nature of the triangle of lines ). During the phoney period of closure when there was a bobby with nothing to do at Clifford Sidings a trip working was made by the GW line banking loco once a day to change the water churn and I cannot say for sure that if anyone was on duty at Clifford after the 24.4.65 whether a water churn trip was made, if so that small section of track would have seen movement after the special! All parked and crippled trucks were cleared from Old Town yard prior to 24.4.65.

John



Rob Davidson said: Thank you John, that is a very positive answer



John Jennings said:

I can categorically confirm that apart from the demolition trains the very last working over the section of the former SMJ main line between Stratford and Burton Dassett was the SLS special that ran on 24.4.65. This is well documented. It nearly didn't happen because as the line had been out of use for several weeks the district civil engineer gave 26.4.65 as the final day he would sanction traffic movements and the special was hastily arranged. The last steam loco to use the section was 44188 although the special was double headed by 6435 also as far as Old Town station. The crew of the pannier tank offered to continue but the ex LMS crew of the 4F refused and took what was an overweight load for the section for a 4F on its own! They told me a few days later that it was only the benefit of a coating of rust on the rails that helped matters along. It was also the rust on the railhead that had delayed assembling the special at Stratford. When the 1960 chord linking the SMJ to the GW line was built the revised layout was heavily protected by track circuit enabled interlocking but with lack of use it failed to detect when sections were occupied. The special had to be authorised by an inspector phoning Evesham Road box to confirm each movement. ( see my page if you want more info on the complex nature of the triangle of lines ). During the phoney period of closure when there was a bobby with nothing to do at Clifford Sidings a trip working was made by the GW line banking loco once a day to change the water churn and I cannot say for sure that if anyone was on duty at Clifford after the 24.4.65 whether a water churn trip was made, if so that small section of track would have seen movement after the special! All parked and crippled trucks were cleared from Old Town yard prior to 24.4.65.

John

John Jennings said:

(see my page if you want more info on the complex nature of the triangle of lines)

Can you quote the URL of the webpage in question, please?

The then Assistant Area Manager, David Mather, writing in Cotswold & Malvern Line News spring 2016 issue, says (inter alia): "....after the line from Kineton to Evesham Road was closed completely on 5th July 1965 coal wagons still had to be taken to Cliffords (sic) Sidings..... In order to get into the sidings the train crew needed the permission of the signalman at Kineton to release the points with the train token. This was not possible as the Signalbox (presumably he means Kineton box) was closed so a token was obtained (presumably he means for the Kineton - Clifford block section) and kept in the Assistant Area Managers desk for the driver to collect as he passed through the station in order to gain access to Clifford Sidings via the disused junction at Evesham Road. This arrangement continued until the new Rail Coal Concentration Depot being constructed on the now closed Leamington Avenue station site was completed."

I have several "difficulties" with this. Firstly, Clifford Siding was (according to an internal BR circular at the time) closed to all public traffic from 4 November 1963 and Old Town likewise (apart from the grain silo private siding) a week later - with traffic thereafter to be dealt with at Leamington. Was coal traffic exempted from these closures? If that is the period Mather is talking about, then the SMJ was fully operational and no such "cloak and dagger" stuff with a token would be practicable while the iron ore trains were still passing (nor even necessary).

Perhaps Mather was confusing it with the water cans movements that John Jennings mentioned, in the "phoney war" period after 1 March 1965 (prior to that the cans would have surely come from Kineton?) until the box became unmanned. Or was he really talking about coal traffic after 5 July 1965? Either way, the movements couldn't have been later than 22 August 1966 when the whole SMJ line "at present closed will be taken out of use pending removal" (to quote the weekly notice) [note the distinctions between being "closed", being "taken out of use" and "removal"]

 
However, whenever it was, and whether the movement was for coal or for water cans, I still don't understand why a Kineton - Clifford token was necessary (although I'd accept an Annetts key for Old Town Exchange ground frame to get between the Through Siding from Evesham Road and the double track at Old Town). In that passenger service between Stratford and Honeybourne did not end until 5 May 1969, Evesham Road box must have been staffed whether we are talking 1963 or 1965 - so why would whatever token or key was involved be held anywhere other than in that box? 
 
Clifford Sidings box is generally recorded as "last manned 24 April 1965", i.e. for the SLS railtour. But did regular manning (and hence the need for the daily water can movement) actually continue until this date? And is the "last manned" date derived simply from that the being the date of the railtour: in other words, is it possible that it was still manned thereafter, despite there being no further train movements (apart from the LE with water cans)?.
So -
can anyone throw any light on
(a) just what "traffic" Mather was really talking about,
(b) when such movements were actually passing, 
(c) why was there any need for the "subterfuge" over a token,
(d) why the token (or key) involved was not held at Evesham Road box, and
(e) on what date the regular daily manning (as opposed to special opening for a rail tour) of Clifford Sidings box actually ceased.
 

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