‘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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We have many unanswered and unanswerable questions regarding the Station site at Tiffield, but actually definitively pinpointing a location could be something for us to get our teeth into. A handful of photo's of the station site that we have on the website seem to indicate the site being just to the east of Bridge 7 Eastcote Road, as opposed to the Bridge Numbers Document pinpointing the location to be between Bridge 9 Caldecote Road and Bridge 8 cattle creep.

 

I visited the section of line between Bridge 9 and Bridge 8 yesterday to get a look for myself, albeit very overgrown, and I found that the line goes from being in a steep cutting at Bridge 9 to an embankment before Bridge 8, which would be impractical for a station, which means the idea of the station site being between Bridges 9 and 8 has got to be false, with the site being east of Bridge 7 Eastcote being much more likely as it's on a level. Discuss folks! I'd like to hear your knowledge and thoughts!

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Hi Richard

This is one of the SMJ subjects that I am particularly interested in. Some years ago (I've just looked out the correspondence and I was surprised to find that it was 1986!!) I was in contact with a gentleman who was also interested in that area, and had grown up nearby. I asked him about the location of the station, and after talking to another 'old local' born in 1901, he came up with the following answer.

The 'station' - such as it was - consisted of what he called a 'wooden shelf or platform' located on the embankment at the end of the first part of what is now the new road called Meadow Rise. It was accessed by a set of wooden steps up the embankment with a stile at the top. Local legend had it that trains found it difficult to restart from there, so the station was abandoned after 1871. However, the 'old local' remembered as a boy sitting on the remains of the platform and watching bundles of newspapers being thrown out from passing brake vans.

He drew a very rough map, which I have recreated, showing the location.

He also sent me two photos - one of the station site on the embankment, and one of the steps leading up from the new road. Presumably there was a footpath to the steps before the road was built? I havent been there myself recently so have no idea whether the steps are still there. I've loaded the map and photos up onto the photos section.

All of this must have the usual 'health warning' - I've no idea if it is correct, but it seems to fit the bill to me. It does explain how the 'station' could have been in an otherwise inaccessible position, and it is certainly very handy for the old viillage.

Interested to see if we get any other thoughts

Morning Barry

 

I've had a look at your photos, and they do indeed seem to fit the bill. You'll find it interesting that the steps from meadow rise are still in situ on the southern side of the embankment just to the east of Cattle Creep Bridge number 8. Of all the mentioned potential sites, (between Bridge 9 and 8) or (east of Bridge 7), Barry's proposition of the station being on the embankment with steps would seem to be the best site for access to the village, but the embankment would seem too narrow for a wooden landing stage. East of bridge 7 is on a level and would be ideal, but there are no known footpaths around there that would give access to the station around the time period. The bridge numbers document indicates the station being west of Bridge 8 Cattle Creep, and east of Bridge 9 Caldecotte road, somewhere in between there. But that would seem almost impossible due to the steepness of the cutting and the quick transition from cutting to embankment. The idea of it being east of Bridge 8 Cattle Creep with step access from the village definitely seems the most likely at this point.

 

Lastly, does anyone know whether the station is on the up side or the down side? From the indications given by Barry and the locals, the station was on the up side (Tiffield side) of the line, but if it were on the down side it would change everything.

**NEW FIND**

 

Having just written my previous reply, i've just noticed a foot crossing was listed on the Bridge Numbers Document, almost certainly the crossing at Meadow Rise, which is at 41.5 chains, with the station at 56 chains. Using mathematics, with a chain being the equivilant of 22 yards, the distance between the foot crossing at Meadow Rise and the proposed station site listed on the document would be 14.8 chains, which is equal to 325 yards.

 

So assuming the Bridge No's Document is correct, which we have no reason to say it isn't, then the station site is located 325 yards to the west of the Meadow Rise steps, Towcester, marginally east of the Caldecotte Road bridge, which also colves the condrum of access from the village, as the Caldecotte Road WAS the access to the station.

 

I'll be getting down there ASAP with my camera, a measuring wheel to get the distance right, and something to quell the vegitation. We may have just solved the biggest mystery of the today's SMJ knowledge.

And there we have it, the mathematical site of Tiffield Station based on the distance where it's listed on the bridge numbers document, 14.8 chains to the West of the foot crossing at Meadow Rise, which still exists.

Hi Richard

Some good deductions there - and I agree that the Caldecote Road bridge is an equally handy access from the village, so is a possible site. As I said in my original post, the 'local legend' of the station being at the top of the steps did come with a 'health warning' - you can never be sure that these handed down tales are totally authentic, particularly when dealing with something beyond any actual living memory. The story of newspapers being thrown off there is probably genuine - but it does not mean that it was the old station, and being on the footpath may just have been a handy spot for the villagers.

But --- to throw a final spanner in the works -- what is the authenticity of the statement that Tiffield station site was at the exact mileage point shown in the Bridges List? I don't know the actual source of this list - presumably it is based on some offical documentation but probably not dating back to the Tiffield station era. Does anyone know where the statement of this actual position of Tiffield station originated from? So far I have not found anything else that puts the station site in a specific place - there is nothing in Working Timetables (not that we have any from the 1870's! anyway) and I've found nothing in the National Archives at Kew relating to this. Local newspapers of the early 1870's do mention the stop at Tiffield, and there is even a timetable in one showing it - but nothing to place it exactly.

Anyone got any thoughts?

The locations are based on chains, which in this case, originate from Blisworth Station, which is at zero chains, with Tiffield Station being at 56 chains. Something interesting is that the Caldecotte Road bridge (bridge 9) is at 58 chains, so the site of the station is only 44 yards to the East of the bridge.

Richard

 

On my page you will find a rather long blog which is a verbatim reproduction of an essay by a former long serving LNW/LMS man entitled "Down Memory Lane" in it he refers to Tiffield as being in the cutting! My footnote No 9 to this essay also has some data that I gathered many years ago. I appreciate that these are just scraps of information and refer to events far beyond the living memory of the author but every little helps as they say and might just tie up with information you have already come across.

 

John

Hi John

 

Thanks for the information regarding Tiffield Station site, my findings from the exact location (two chains from the bridge) would seem to fit the bill for a small halt, with good road access and footpath access from the village. Inside the cutting itself, at the given location, the cutting widens out significantly enough to indicate the platform location. It appears that the essay is indeed correct with the idea of it being in the cutting. We'll know more information once I can visit in the autumn or winter, when the vegetation has died down, but we can say in near certain terms that the station site is located down in the cutting to the east of Caldecote Road.

 

Richard

Tiffield station site according to another source.

Thanks for the information, Nigel. Could I ask the source of this information?

 

Richard 

To partly answer Richard's question, I don't know the source of this view but it is the same location that I first responded with back on June 12th, where the trackbed at the rear of the new housing in Meadow Rise can be accessed by a set of wooden steps.

As I said, I'm not confident enough about the source of my information to claim that it was definitely the site of Tiffield station, and Richard's theory of the site close to Caldecote Rood bridge looks good - so long as the mileage position of Tiffield station given on the SMJ Bridges List on our website is actually correct,

BUT - does anyone know where that information came from? It is a very precise measurement from Blisworth of 2 miles 56chains, rather than just a rough position, so sounds as though it has come from an 'official' source - but where? I'm not aware of any line plans early enough to have included the station when it was open, so this is a bit of a mystery.(incidentally - the running direction from Blisworth to Towcester is DOWN, not UP)

I have read somewhere (must find it again) that when traffic was heavy (ie: Towcester Race days) the section between Blisworth and Towcester was divided into two to give greater line capacity, by means of installing a temporary block post at Tiffield. I don't know quite how / where this was achieved, but could this be a factor?

Finally - just to dispell any question of the station actually existing, I've loaded in the photos section a scan of an newspaper timetable of 1870 (must look up the exact date) showing Tiffield as a stop for certain trains.

Evening Barry, one possible source for the exact mileage on the Bridge numbers document is historical mapping in the area. As I mentioned on your photo earlier, these historical maps of 1885 and later list all sorts of information from ground frames, to signal posts, to signal boxes and more importantly, chains. Using railway measurements for railways on maps was the norm  back then, which provides us with a pretty good explanation of how the information came about.

 

But the whole scenario seems to fit together nicely though. The location listed on the document was checked by myself last week, I am in 100% certain terms that it was the site, there definitely looks to have been something like a station there in the past, the cutting is still missing where it would have been, also there is good road and path access, and the essay that you mentioned refers to the station being in a cutting. It all seems to fit well, but we should definitely look into the idea of dividing the line on days where traffic could be heavy, this could unearth more details of the station itself.

 

Richard

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