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 SVR-Online Forum "Early history of the SVR on the British Newspaper Archive" thread.



Proposals prior to the construction of the SVR

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.[1] The Severn Valley Railway Company (19th Century) was authorised to build the SVR 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.[2]

Grand Connection Railway

Advertised in December 1835, seeking capital of £800,000.[3] 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.[4] Despite changes to the route, the Bill for the line was rejected in Parliament in 1837 and again in 1838.[5]

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.[6] 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.".[7]

London, Worcester and South Staffordshire Railway

Originally proposed in March 1844 as the London and Worcester and Rugby and Oxford Railway Company, renamed the London, Worcester and South Staffordshire Railway in February 1845. The proposed 'standard gauge' route from Oxford and Aylesbury in the south ran to Wolverhampton via Banbury, Evesham, Worcester, Stourport, Kidderminster, Stourbridge and Dudley, and was shown on a map of the proposed route of the OWW which covered much of the same ground. The Bill did not pass through Parliament and winding up was completed by October 1846[8][9].

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.".[10] By April 1845 it was to be amalgamated with the Welsh Midland Railway.[11] 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.[12]

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.".[13] 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.[14] Notice of the intention to bring a Bill to Parliament was advertised in November 1845.[15] By 1846 the affairs of the company were being wound up.[16]

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.".[17]

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.[18]

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."[19] 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.[20] By 1846 it had been amalgamated with another scheme backed by the same promoters, the Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire Junction Railway.[21] 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'.[22]

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 OWW'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.".[23] The proposal did not go ahead and shareholders in the Company voted to wind it up in November 1846.[24]

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.".[25]

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]".[26]

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.".[27]

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]...".[28] 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".[29]

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.[30]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.[31]

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.".[32] Robert Nicholson's original route for the SVR, 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 SVR announced an alternative route to Shrewsbury via Linley in late 1852, Whitmore switched his support to the Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth Railway instead.[33]

Proposals for railways connecting Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth

19th Century Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth proposals
GWR Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth proposals

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 SVR (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.[34]

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 SVR (still under construction) a mile south of Bridgnorth.[35]

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 LNWR 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 LNWR 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.[36]

Central Wales and Staffordshire Junction Railway

Proposed in 1864, the route would have run from the S&HR at Craven Arms via Corvedale, Bridgnorth and thence via Trysull to Dudley and Wolverhampton.[37]

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 SVR south of Bridgnorth. A 4-mile branch from Wombourn was to run south to join the GWR (former OWW) 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 LNWR 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.[38][37]

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 GWR and LNWR lines near Priestfield to join the SVR south of Bridgnorth, with a separate station in Bridgnorth Low Town. However this scheme did not proceed; the GWR and LNWR worked together to defeat the project in 1899[39].

GWR Proposals

The GWR 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 SVR 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 GWR (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 GWR (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.[40]

Other proposals after the opening of the SVR in 1862

Plan of part of the Birmingham, Kidderminster and Stourport Railway

After 1862, the following railways were proposed to form a junction with, or cross, the SVR (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 SVR north of Bewdley via a north-facing junction. The proposal was rejected by Parliament in 1866.[41]

West Staffordshire Railway

Proposed in 1874, the route would run from the LNWR 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 LNWR as an alternative to the Kidderminster Loop Line, was rejected by Parliament in 1875.[42][43]

Birmingham, Kidderminster and Stoke Railway

Proposed around 1888-9, this would have provided a loop line to relieve the busy GWR main line and the Lickey Incline (the Stoke referred to is near Bromsgrove). A Bill went to Parliament in 1890 but failed under opposition from the GWR[44].

Wolverhampton, Birmingham, and Hereford and South Wales Junction Railway.

Proposed in 1891, the main railway would have run from Wolverhampton (Monmore Green) to Hereford, passing through Kinver, Kidderminster, Stourport and Areley Kings. The Birmingham branch would run from Kidderminster to Harborne via Halesowen.[45]

Birmingham, Kidderminster and Stourport Railway

Proposed in 1892, this followed the same route in the Northfield area as the previous scheme and presumably had the same objectives. A branch of this railway would have crossed the Loop Line near Falling Sands Viaduct and the SVR near Stourport Station, ending at the Basin in Stourport.[46]

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 SVR near Bridgnorth. None of the extensions were taken up after the First World War[47].

See also


  1. Presumably referring to the Worcester, Shrewsbury and Crewe Union Railway.
  2. Presumably referring to the Worcester, Shrewsbury and Crewe Union Railway.
  3. This scheme, and that of 1860, included the spelling 'Bridgenorth', which appeared on the 1 inch OS map of that time.
  4. The GWR station was named Wombourn, the standard spelling of the time, in preference to the modern spelling Wombourne


  1. Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway on Wikipedia
  2. Worcester Journal, 10 March 1836, via the British Newspaper Archive
  3. Worcester Journal, 31 December 1835, via the British Newspaper Archive
  4. Worcester Journal, 25 February 1836, via the British Newspaper Archive
  5. worcesterpeopleandplaces.org.uk
  6. The Railway Times for 1843, Vol 6, p. 1092.
  7. Worcester Herald, 21 September 1844, via the British Newspaper Archive
  8. National Archives
  9. Map of the proposed OWW held in the National Archives
  10. Hereford Times, 22 February 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  11. London Evening Standard, 14 April 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  12. Worcester Herald, 9 November 1844, via the British Newspaper Archive
  13. London Evening Standard, 14 April 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  14. Worcester Journal, 1 May 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  15. The Cambrian, 21 November 1845, via National Library of Wales
  16. Gwent Archives
  17. Morning Chronicle, 18 April 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  18. Worcester Herald, 24 May 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  19. Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, 21 August 1845 via the British Newspaper Archive
  20. Copy of map prepared by J Gardener, held by Worcester Archive
  21. Worcestershire Chronicle, 4 November 1846 via the British Newspaper Archive
  22. Worcester Journal, 26 June 1851 via the British Newspaper Archive
  23. Shrewsbury Chronicle, 19 September 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  24. London Evening Standard, 30 November 1846, via the British Newspaper Archive
  25. Worcestershire Chronicle, 24 September 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  26. Worcestershire Chronicle, 17 September 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  27. Worcester Journal, 9 October 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  28. Aris's Birmingham Gazette, 6 October 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  29. Worcester Journal, 13 November 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  30. Stour Valley Line on Wikipedia
  31. Worcestershire Chronicle, 20 August 1845, via the British Newspaper Archive
  32. Shropshire History
  33. Marshall (1989) p. 23.
  34. Marshall (1989) p. 114.
  35. Marshall (1989) p. 115.
  36. Marshall (1989) pp. 115-116.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Trysull on Wikivisially
  38. Marshall (1989) p. 116.
  39. Light Railways in England and Wales, Peter Boseley (1990), p65 Google Books preview
  40. Marshall (1989) pp. 118-120.
  41. Marshall (1989) p. 61.
  42. Marshall (1989) p. 81.
  43. County Express; Brierley Hill, Stourbridge, Kidderminster, and Dudley News Saturday 12 December 1874 on the British Newspaper Archive
  44. Ian Dinmore on Flickr
  45. Railway News, 23 May 1891, via the British Newspaper Archive
  46. Plans held at Warwickshire Archives (Item 471)
  47. Price (1995) pp.39-40.