Unsuccessful proposals for railways in the Severn Valley
This article gives details of unsuccessful proposals for railways in, or associated with, the Severn Valley. These fall into three main categories:
- Early proposals for railways pre-dating the construction of the Severn Valley Railway itself;
- Proposals for railways connecting Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth;
- Other proposals, including failed schemes for the Kidderminster Loop line
The article incorporates information from the SVRSevern Valley Railway-Online Forum "Early history of the SVR on the British Newspaper Archive" thread.
- 1 Proposals prior to the construction of the SVR
- 1.1 Birmingham, Dudley and Wolverhampton Railway
- 1.2 Grand Connection Railway
- 1.3 Worcester and Cardiff Junction Railway
- 1.4 Hereford and Kidderminster Railway
- 1.5 Welsh Midland Railway
- 1.6 Worcester, Shrewsbury and Crewe Union Railway
- 1.7 Kidderminster and Welsh Midland Junction Railway
- 1.8 Direct East and West Junction Railway
- 1.9 Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company
- 1.10 Oxford and Worcester Extension and Chester Junction Railway
- 1.11 Cambrian and Grand Junction Railway
- 1.12 Shropshire Mineral Railway
- 1.13 Direct London and Holyhead Railway
- 1.14 Dudley, Madeley, Broseley and Ironbridge Railway
- 1.15 Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Stour Valley Railway'
- 1.16 Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth Railway
- 2 Proposals for railways connecting Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth
- 2.1 Wolverhampton & Bridgenorth Railway
- 2.2 South Staffordshire & Central Wales Railway Dudley & Bridgenorth
- 2.3 Wolverhampton & Bridgnorth Railway
- 2.4 Central Wales and Staffordshire Junction Railway
- 2.5 Bridgnorth, Wolverhampton & Staffordshire Railway
- 2.6 Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth Light Railway
- 2.7 GWR Proposals
- 3 Other proposals after the opening of the SVR in 1862
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 Links
Proposals prior to the construction of the SVRSevern Valley Railway
The world’s first inter-city passenger railway, the Liverpool and Manchester, opened in 1830. Within a few years the 'Railway Mania' to build new railways had begun, with boom years in the mid-1830s and in 1845–47. Between 1835 and 1853, a number of schemes were proposed, with varying degrees of credibility, to build railways crossing, following or terminating in the Severn Valley somewhere between Stourport and Ironbridge. Some of the schemes during the Mania were for so-called 'direct' railways which were simply planned to run in straight lines across large areas of countryside; these would have been difficult to construct and nearly impossible for the locomotives of the day to work on.
For context, the Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway which would form the southern connection of the Severn Valley Railway was authorised in 1845 and opened throughout in 1853. The Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway which would form the northern connection was authorised in 1846 and also opened throughout in 1853. The Severn Valley Railway Company (19th Century) was authorised to build the SVRSevern Valley Railway in 1853 and completed its construction in 1862.
Proposals included the following:
Birmingham, Dudley and Wolverhampton Railway
Proposed in the early 1830s, the route would run "...from the line of the Grand Junction Railway near Wolverhampton through Dudley, Stourbridge, Kidderminster and Stourport to unite with the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway at or near Worcester." A survey had been completed by March 1836. The Company wanted the Grand Connection Railway to join their route at Dudley rather than continuing to Wolverhampton, which became a source of dispute between the two companies.
Grand Connection Railway
Advertised in December 1835, seeking capital of £800,000. It was originally intended to run west of the Severn from Gloucester, crossing the river at Worcester. One branch would connect to Birmingham, the other continue via Stourport, Kidderminster, Stourbridge and Dudley to Wolverhampton. Despite changes to the route, the Bill for the line was rejected in Parliament in 1837 and again in 1838.
Worcester and Cardiff Junction Railway
Proposed in 1843, the main branch would begin at the Taff Vale Railway near Cardiff and pass through Leominster, Little Hereford and Tenbury. A branch was to run from Newnham to Stourport. A meeting was held in September 1844 at which it was resolved to ask the Company "...to bring a branch line from Tenbury to Cleobury Mortimer, Bewdley and Kidderminster.".
Hereford and Kidderminster Railway
Advertised in February 1845 seeking capital of £750,000. It proposed "...connecting Hereford, Leominster, Kington, Ludlow, Tenbury, Cleobury, Bewdley, Stourport and adjacent country, etc, with the Mining and Manufacturing districts of Kidderminster, Stourbridge, Dudley, Birmingham and the Metropolis.". By April 1845 it was to be amalgamated with the Welsh Midland Railway. Three months earlier in November 1844, a newspaper article referred to a meeting at Ludlow to discuss a proposed "Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow and Birmingham Railway" which was probably this proposal.
Welsh Midland Railway
Advertised in April 1845 seeking capital of £3.5M. It proposed "...to connect the manufacturing districts and the seaports of south Wales ... with Birmingham and the great manufacturing districts of Staffordshire.". A meeting took place at Worcester on 30 April 1845 at which it was noted that the proposed railway would be beneficial to the interests of the City. At that time the question of whether the railway would be built to 'broad gauge' had not been decided. Notice of the intention to bring a Bill to Parliament was advertised in November 1845. By 1846 the affairs of the company were being wound up.
Worcester, Shrewsbury and Crewe Union Railway
Advertised in April 1845 seeking capital of £1.5M. The proposed route was described as "Forming a junction at Stourport with the London, Worcester and South Staffordshire Railway, the proposed railway will pass up the valley of the Severn, and through or in the immediate neighbourhood of Bewdley, Kidderminster, Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock, Madeley, Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale, to Shrewsbury, and thence… will terminate at Crewe.".
Kidderminster and Welsh Midland Junction Railway
Advertised in May 1845 seeking capital of £650,000. This appears to follow on from the April 1845 proposal to merge the Hereford and Kidderminster Railway with the Welsh Midland Railway, as the advertisement repeated word for word the proposal of the former.
Direct East and West Junction Railway
Advertised in August 1845 seeking capital of £800,000. The route was described as "This important railway is 42 miles in length; will commence at the railway station of the Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway at Kidderminster, and will proceed from thence by way of Tenbury and Leominster to Hereford". The article also noted that "The line is free from engineering difficulties, and gradients highly favourable." That description does not really accord with the Engineer's map, which shows the proposed line crossing the Severn by a bridge approximately where Dowles Bridge was built, then entering a tunnel at Northwood Lane which ended beyond Habberley Valley, a length of around 1.8 miles or about the same as Brunel's famous Box Tunnel. By 1846 it had been amalgamated with another scheme backed by the same promoters, the Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire Junction Railway. It was later alleged that this merger was unlawful, and by 1851 action was being taken to wind up the affairs of the 'Direct East and West'.
Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company
- Main article: Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company
First proposed by Robert Stephenson in July 1845 as one of four planned railways for the Shropshire Union. Stephenson surveyed the route from Worcester to Shrewsbury in 1846. A Bill was raised in Parliament the same year, but never enacted. Proposals for formation of a company to build railway appeared in July 1847, but no further action had been taken by 1848 after which time the Shropshire Union let the plan lapse. However Stephenson's plans were used by Robert Nicholson for what became the The Severn Valley Railway Company (19th Century).
Oxford and Worcester Extension and Chester Junction Railway
Advertised in September 1845 seeking capital of £2.25M. Planned as a broad gauge extension to the OWWOxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway's Oxford to Worcester route, the proposed extension from Worcester was described as "Passing up the Severn Vale, it reaches Stourport and proceeding thence through Kidderminster arrives at Bewdley. Leaving Stourbridge a little to the East, the line is taken to Bridgnorth. Passing through or near to Much Wenlock, Broseley and Madeley, from which there will be a branch to Shrewsbury, the line ascends Coalbrookdale and approaching in its course Wellington and Wem, enters Whitchurch. The trunk line will continue from Whitchurch and passing through or near Malpas, will have its northern terminus in the city of Chester.". The proposal did not go ahead and shareholders in the Company voted to wind it up in November 1846.
Cambrian and Grand Junction Railway
Advertised in September 1845 seeking capital of £2.2M. The prospectus began "This important line, the only one having for its object the direct communication between South Wales, Birmingham, the Midland counties, Liverpool, Manchester and the North, will commence at Hereford, and passing to the Vale of the Severn via Bewdley, Bridgnorth, Broseley, Iron Bridge and Coalbrook Dale, take a direct route through or near Wellington and Market Drayton to Crewe, or to Runcorn, whence the existing lines will continue the traffic to Liverpool, Manchester and the North. At Bewdley there will be a branch line through Kidderminster to Birmingham and the Midland Counties.".
Shropshire Mineral Railway
Advertised in September 1845 seeking capital of £700,000. It was intended to form "...in conjunction with other existing and projected lines, a direct connection between Liverpool, Manchester Sheffield, York and Hull and Swansea and South Wales." The proposed Railway itself formed a connection between the Grand Junction Railway at Norton Bridge (near Stafford) and the Shrewsbury, Hereford and North Wales Railway at Wistanstow (north of Ludlow), Shropshire. From Oakengates the planned route southwards passed through "...Priors Lee, Stirchley, Dawley, Madeley and Ironbridge to Coalbrookdale, there crossing the proposed "Worcester and Crewe Railway"[note 1]".
Direct London and Holyhead Railway
Advertised in October 1845 seeking capital of £2M, it proposed a direct route between London and Holyhead. The southern end of the route was described thus: "It will commence by a junction with the proposed Buckinghamshire Railway at Banbury, and will proceed by way of Kineton, Stratford and Bromsgrove to Kidderminster. From Kidderminster, passing near Bridgnorth, Madeley, Broseley and Wellington to Shrewsbury.".
Dudley, Madeley, Broseley and Ironbridge Railway
Advertised in October 1845 seeking capital of £800,000. The prospectus began "This company has been formed for the purpose of constructing a direct line of railway from Dudley to Madeley, Broseley and Iron Bridge, at or near which place it is proposed to form a junction with the proposed Shrewsbury, Worcester and Crewe Union Railway[note 2]...". In November 1845 the Company determined to extend their line to Wolverhampton and Stourbridge by a direct line through Kingswinford, noting this would provide a connection to Stourport "...in conjunction with the Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Stour Valley Railway".
Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Stour Valley Railway'
(Often shortened to Stour Valley Railway and now known as the Stour Valley Line): The Company was authorised by an Act of Parliament in August 1846 and successfully built the line from Birmingham to Wolverhampton via Smethwick which opened in 1852 and is still in use today.The 'Stour Valley' by which the line is known referred to a branch (proposed but never built) from Smethwick following the River Stour via Stourbridge and Kidderminster to its junction with the Severn at Stourport.
Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth Railway
(Known as Peele's Line, probably after Joshua John Peele, a prominent Bridgnorth Solicitor): Plans and sections for this proposed railway were deposited in November 1852. The Book of Reference noted it was "...to incorporate a Company for making Railways from the Shifnal and Madeley Branch of the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway to the towns of Ironbridge and Bridgnorth, and to Lightmoor; and to authorise working arrangement with other Companies.". Robert Nicholson's original route for the SVRSevern Valley Railway, which passed to the east of the Apley Estate and towards Madeley was supported by the Estate's owner and local MP Thomas Whitmore. When the SVRSevern Valley Railway announced an alternative route to Shrewsbury via Linley in late 1852, Whitmore switched his support to the Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth Railway instead.
Proposals for railways connecting Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth
Wolverhampton & Bridgenorth Railway
Advertised in 1860 (the first of a number of proposed railways between Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth to be advertised). A plan for the route was drawn up although it did not include the engineer’s name. It would have run from the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway 3 miles west of Wolverhampton via Wergs, Pattingham and Worfield to join the SVRSevern Valley Railway (then still under construction) around 2 miles north of Bridgnorth. The proposal did not gain sufficient interest for a Bill to be presented to Parliament.
South Staffordshire & Central Wales Railway Dudley & Bridgenorth
Advertised in 1861. A plan and section were deposited, prepared by engineer Richard Taylor of 'Bridgenorth'.[note 3] The line would have run from the South Staffordshire Railway at Dudley, passing south of Himley and Claverley to join the SVRSevern Valley Railway (still under construction) a mile south of Bridgnorth.
Wolverhampton & Bridgnorth Railway
Plans were drawn up by John Addison in 1862, following a similar route to the 1860 scheme but passing north of Worfield and including a short extension to join the LNWRLondon & North Western Railway line at Bushbury as well as the Shrewsbury & Birmingham. A Bill was presented in Parliament in February 1863 but it was thrown out after the preamble was not proved. It was presented again in 1864 and 1865, without the LNWRLondon & North Western Railway extension on the latter occasion, but both times withdrawn by its promoters. Addison then drafted a new scheme in 1865 with a connection south of Oxley Viaduct and following the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal for 3½ miles before joining his earlier route to Bridgnorth. This final scheme was never presented in Parliament.
Central Wales and Staffordshire Junction Railway
Proposed in 1864, the route would have run from the S&HRShrewsbury and Hereford Railway at Craven Arms via Corvedale, Bridgnorth and thence via Trysull to Dudley and Wolverhampton.
Bridgnorth, Wolverhampton & Staffordshire Railway
Proposed in 1865 with a route planned by engineer J. Fogerty. From a connection at Oxley Viaduct, the route would run via Trysull, Wombourn,[note 4] Halfpenny Green and crossing the Severn via a viaduct near Oldbury to join the SVRSevern Valley Railway south of Bridgnorth. A 4-mile branch from Wombourn was to run south to join the GWRGreat Western Railway (former OWWOxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway) Kingswinford Branch; a short branch would also run to Swindon (Staffordshire). The Act for this railway received Royal Assent in June 1866, but money could not be raised and the powers lapsed. Another line, following a similar route but with an additional connection to the LNWRLondon & North Western Railway near Dunstall, Wolverhampton and without the southern branches, was planned by engineers W.J. Kingsbury and T. Dowell in 1871. A Bill was presented to Parliament in February 1872 but thrown out when the preamble was not proved.
Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth Light Railway
Proposed in 1897 under the Light Railways Act of 1896 which meant a separate Act of Parliament would not be required. The route, planned by W.B. Myers-Beswick, was to run from both the GWRGreat Western Railway and LNWRLondon & North Western Railway lines near Priestfield to join the SVRSevern Valley Railway south of Bridgnorth, with a separate station in Bridgnorth Low Town. However this scheme did not proceed; the GWRGreat Western Railway and LNWRLondon & North Western Railway worked together to defeat the project in 1899.
GWRGreat Western Railway Proposals
The GWRGreat Western Railway Act of 11 July 1905 broadly followed the Bridgnorth, Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Railway scheme of 1865, with a line from the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway at Oxley Viaduct passing west of Wombourn and via Halfpenny Green before crossing the Severn near Quatford and joining the SVRSevern Valley Railway at junctions 1 and 1½ miles south of Bridgnorth, with a branch running south to join the Kingswinford Branch. A revised scheme was authorised in GWRGreat Western Railway (Additional Powers) Act of 1908 which moved the junction into Wombourn. In 1913 the Bridgnorth line was postponed while work went ahead on the Kingswinford section. After the First World War, the Oxley to Kingswinford Branch was completed in 1925 with the ‘branch’ having become the main line. However it was little used and closed for passenger services in 1932. The GWRGreat Western Railway (Additional Powers) Act of 1924 had extended the deadline for the Bridgnorth connection until 1927, but the decision was quickly taken to abandon it due to the rapid development of road transport.
Other proposals after the opening of the SVRSevern Valley Railway in 1862
After 1862, the following railways were proposed to form a junction with the SVRSevern Valley Railway (incomplete list)
Stourbridge Railway, Valley of the Stour Extension
Proposed in 1866, the route would form an extension from the Stourbridge Town branch via Kinver and Wolverley, passing 2 miles north of Kidderminster and joining the SVRSevern Valley Railway north of Bewdley via a north-facing junction. The proposal was rejected by Parliament in 1866.
West Staffordshire Railway
Proposed in 1874, the route would run from the LNWRLondon & North Western Railway line south of Wolverhampton via Kingswinford, west of Stourbridge, Wolverley, west of Kidderminster to connect to the Tenbury and Bewdley Railway with a short branch to Bewdley. The scheme, which was backed by the LNWRLondon & North Western Railway as an alternative to the Kidderminster Loop Line, was rejected by Parliament in 1875.
Cleobury Mortimer and Ditton Priors Light Railway (extensions)
- Main article: Cleobury Mortimer and Ditton Priors Light Railway
Some time after opening in 1908, the CM&DPLR considered an extension to Billingsley, whose colliery was instead served by a branch from the SVR authorised in 1911 and opened in 1913. In 1912 the railway considered three other possible extensions from the terminus at Ditton Priors, one of which would have joined the SVRSevern Valley Railway near Bridgnorth. None of the extensions were taken up after the First World War.
- Presumably referring to the Worcester, Shrewsbury and Crewe Union Railway.
- Presumably referring to the Worcester, Shrewsbury and Crewe Union Railway.
- This scheme, and that of 1860, included the spelling 'Bridgenorth', which appeared on the 1 inch OS map of that time.
- The GWRGreat Western Railway station was named Wombourn, the standard spelling of the time, in preference to the modern spelling Wombourne
- Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway on Wikipedia
- Worcester Journal, 10 March 1836, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcester Journal, 31 December 1835, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcester Journal, 25 February 1836, via the British Newspaper Archive
- The Railway Times for 1843, Vol 6, p. 1092.
- Worcester Herald, 21 September 1844, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Hereford Times, 22 February 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- London Evening Standard, 14 April 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcester Herald, 9 November 1844, via the British Newspaper Archive
- London Evening Standard, 14 April 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcester Journal, 1 May 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- The Cambrian, 21 November 1845, via National Library of Wales
- Gwent Archives
- Morning Chronicle, 18 April 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcester Herald, 24 May 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, 21 August 1845 via the British Newspaper Archive
- Copy of map prepared by J Gardener, held by Worcester Archive
- Worcestershire Chronicle, 4 November 1846 via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcester Journal, 26 June 1851 via the British Newspaper Archive
- Shrewsbury Chronicle, 19 September 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- London Evening Standard, 30 November 1846, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcestershire Chronicle, 24 September 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcestershire Chronicle, 17 September 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcester Journal, 9 October 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Aris's Birmingham Gazette, 6 October 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Worcester Journal, 13 November 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Stour Valley Line on Wikipedia
- Worcestershire Chronicle, 20 August 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
- Shropshire History
- Marshall (1989) p. 23.
- Marshall (1989) p. 114.
- Marshall (1989) p. 115.
- Marshall (1989) pp. 115-116.
- Trysull on Wikivisially
- Marshall (1989) p. 116.
- Light Railways in England and Wales, Peter Boseley (1990), p65 Google Books preview
- Marshall (1989) pp. 118-120.
- Marshall (1989) p. 61.
- Marshall (1989) p. 81.
- Price (1995) pp.39-40.