‘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"


SMJ Forum

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.


There was a public level crossing between Blakesley and Morton Pinkney, complete with a gatehouse.Does anyone know how this was operated?Presumably the gates must have been manual and kept closed against road traffic.Early Working Timetables mention…Continue

Started by Barry Taylor. Last reply by Andrew Emmerson Apr 17.

SMJ photos

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For nearly 50 years I have wanted one of these to go with my SMJR weight restriction notice. Thanks to an auction, I have now got one and fulfilled a very lengthy quest. I just wonder where on the line it came from, and whether I have seen it before in the distant past!

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Comment by Dick Bodily on April 27, 2014 at 10:49

It may be that some of these signs were touched up with whatever paint was available (possibly white paint intended for wartime platform edging) by station staff with time on their hands.  Signalman Bob Salmons has told me how he used such spare paint to decorate the stone edging to station flowerbeds during the war. Back in the late '80s or early '90s I  had one of these signs in my possession for a short while. It belonged to my dad and he wanted me to sell it for him. I'm pretty sure that although rusted it had traces of white paint on the background and black on the lettering the opposite to what you would expect and I seem to remember seeing signs painted in this way on the line. At any rate Dad was more concerned with it rusting than anything else so he sanded it down and painted it, I think with red oxide anti-rust paint then grey undercoat. I sold it for him to a Southern Railway fan in Bedfordshire. He wanted it to trade for SR stuff and wasn't too put off by Dad's handiwork as it still had a heavily rusted twisted bolt attached which showed its authenticity. He showed me his collection which included two WC Pacific nameplates complete with crests, his wife had no idea how much he had paid for them I'm sure. I got a very good price for Dad and at the time with a young family I couldn't have justified paying Dad the same amount of  money to keep it for myself. How I wished I still had it!  I often wonder were it ended up.

Comment by John Evans on April 25, 2014 at 9:31

The Keighley and Worth Valley museum at Ingrow has an example of both SMJ 'Beware' signs and also an East and West Jct weight restriction notice, with the letters chiselled off. There are pictures of these in my picture collection on this site. The removal of the signs was professional - one day they were abundant, another they had gone.  At least one went to a restaurant in Stratford, the owner of which then cast fibre glass copies and sold them. This was in the 1970s. The back of mine looks very much like the back of my weight restriction notice, which I took from a bridge at Roade. Getting that sign off the bridge was an ordeal and clearly it had been there for many, many years. The back of my 'Beware' sign has the expected less rusty strip down the middle showing it was secured to a six inch post, used by the SMJ a lot. The seller said it was unrestored, but my pictures taken of these signs in the 1960s (also on this site) show them covered in rust; I never saw one painted and this one has probably been repainted many years ago. Could the signs at Stratford have been removed and shot-blasted/cleaned as they were at a strategic point? Probably not - they just used some 'old stock.' Thank you for this interesting information.

Comment by John Jennings on April 24, 2014 at 10:11

The standard B o T / Trespass sign that you have bought is the more common casting that was very prolific along the line and many examples were extant right to the end in 1965. Why such an impoverished outfit as the SMJ went to the cost of providing two signs at even the most insignificant locations such as little used occupation crossings is a mystery. The E & W (who were even more impoverished!) had ordered unique alloy signs for bridges and special locations from the local Royal Label Factory and there is some info on these in my previous postings. The SMJ ordered the first batch from the Midland Railway foundry at Derby and they were distributed to the platelayers gangs for display at appropriate locations before the Great War. At a later date more were needed and these were delivered without the border but from measurement they were a new casting not simply a copy of the previous batch with the border missing! There is a unsubstantiated tale that these "borderless" versions were only used adjacent to the SMJ boundary with a certain landowner at the Eastern end of the line. They are definitely much rarer and do not come to the auction market often. My view from all the evidence that I have gathered is that these later versions were just a cheaper casting! I remain open minded on the subject. However like many things SMJ there is a further mystery. In 1959 at Stratford I was aware that both of the signs similar to yours that were on posts at a well used foot crossing had been removed from their posts by enthusiasts. Less than a month later both had been replaced by obviously brand new SMJ notices of the same type freshly painted black & white. To add insult to injury in 1961 when the western end of the SMJ line had been handed over to the BR Western Region another sign near Clifford Sidings that had been removed was replaced and painted in WR brown & cream colours. I finally got to the bottom of this when I was shown into one of the platelayers stores that were adjacent to the water softening plant at Stratford.  Under a bench and red with rust was a pile of some twenty or so "brand new" SMJ notices of the common type but none of the borderless version. Until a lack of manpower or interest set in toward the mid 1960's any missing signs had been replaced from this stock. There are many collectors with a SMJ B o T / Trespass sign and if there is plenty of old lead based paint on them and a good post mark on the rear they will have been displayed since circa 1912 but how many of the genuine but late display replacements are out there? One thing that is for sure is that the brown & cream example if it has survived and not been repainted is unique and has a rather special provenance. The well known SMJ "Motor Car Acts" plate with scalloped corners was a reissue of an earlier ST&MJR version with the company title changed. The SMJ did attempt to save money on this one by chiselling off the Towcester part and some of these defaced but fairly uncommon plates survive. A very few that missed the chisel do exist and are much sought after. Like the Trespass sign the Motor Car Act ones were prolific and at least two were attached to the brickwork of every bridge. They were not pre drilled but were fixed with four L shaped iron pegs. For such a small company the SMJ produced a greater than average amount of what we now call railwayana. When Wilmott left the SMJ and went to the Isle of White to take up the General Manager's post there he copied both of the signs for his new employer simply changing the company name line. It appears that money was much tighter there as I o W versions are extremely rare!

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