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GWR Routes

GWR Route: Moreton-in-Marsh to Shipston-on-Stour

GWR Route: Moreton-in-Marsh to Stratford upon Avon Tramway

The Moreton-in-Marsh to Stratford upon Avon Tramway some 16 miles long, authorised on 28 May 1821, was the first railway to be built in the County of Warwickshire preceding the arrival of the Grand Junction Railway and the London Birmingham Railway by some twelve years. However it was built as a horse drawn tramway although it adopted the 4'-8½" gauge adopted by Stephenson in the north east of England. It was promoted by the "Father of Railways", William James of Henley-in-Arden, as part of an ambitious scheme to link the Midlands with London via narrow boat to Stratford upon Avon, tramway to Oxford and finally by barge down the Thames to London. William James did anticipate that the tramway section would be worked by steam traction. However this ambitious project was, as Colin Maggs states in his book, "before its time" and only the route to Stratford upon Avon and one of the three planned branches (to Shipston-on-Stour) was built. Goods traffic was conveyed by licenced traders in their own wagons and who were also allowed to convey passengers on payment of a further licence costing £12 per annum. The branch to Shipston-on-Stour, authorised on 10th June 1833, was delayed because the original powers expired before it could be built meaning it was not opened until 11th February 1836. The arrival of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway (OW&WR) severed the terminal buildings from the branch compelling the OW&WR to take out a perpetual lease from 1st May 1847. The line initially was still managed by the original officers of the Tramway until 1851 when to reduce this unnecessary expense the OW&WR paid them off.

Following this take over the OW&WR upgraded the whole length of the Tramway Stratford upon Avon to accommodate main line wagons albeit still horse drawn. This did not achieve the up lift in revenues anticipated and in fact losses were considerably greater than previous. Any possibility of the route to Stratford upon Avon becoming a financial success disappeared in 1859 with the opening of the the OW&WR's Honeybourne to Stratford upon Avon branch line. The tramway through service to Stratford upon Avon was infrequently used although some sections of the line saw some use but by 1904 it was no longer used. The track was lifted for scrap in 1918 as part of wartime economy measures although it was not until 4th August 1926, a month short of its centenary, that the line was officially abandoned by an Act of Parliament. Following the GWR takeover of the OW&WR, in 1882 a short spur at Longdon Road was constructed to enable through running to Shipston-on-Stour to occur as prior to this date the junction for the branch to Shipston-on-Stour faced Stratford upon Avon. This was part of the GWR's strategy to bring the branch up to a standard sufficient to handle steam hauled traffic. Further powers were sought after it found that the original 1833 Act forbade the use of steam locomotives and it was not until 1st July 1889 that the line was officially reopened with a service of four trains per day in each direction. Passenger services ceased on 8th July 1929 whilst goods traffic continued until 2nd May 1960.

In the first few years substantial sums were necessary to keep the tramway open, in particular the steep sided deep cuttings and high embankments caused problems, but the income from tolls gradually exceeded this expenditure, as indicated by the following table:

Year Receipts Expenditure
1827 £2,051/7s /4d £2,408/11s /2d
1828 £2,840/10s/10d £2,858/10s/9d
1829 £2,555/1s/5d £1,788/4s/3d
1830 £3,222/19s/7d £1,139/9s/5d

Unfortunately the expenditure figures exclude the interest payments on loans and despite liquidating the simple contract debts with a 50% payment, by the end of 1830 the company still owed £53,758 (including £10,344 of accrued interest).

Robert Ferris

William James (Father of the Railways) 1771 – 1837

William James (Father of the Railways) 1771  1837. Born in Henley-in-Arden to William and Mary James
Ref: gwrmt3135
GWR Magazine
William James (Father of the Railways) 1771 – 1837
Born in Henley-in-Arden to William and Mary James
A 1914 Ordnance Survey map showing the tramway and road bridges crossing the SMJR at Clifford Chambers
Ref: gwrmt3136
William James
A plan of the projected Central Junction Railway showing how it would connect coalfields, canals and towns

Moreton-in-Marsh

The original Moreton-in-Marsh to Stratford Tramway terminus buildings which housed offices, workshops, stables
Ref: gwrmm978
RK Cope
The original Moreton-in-Marsh to Stratford Tramway terminus buildings which housed offices, workshops, stables
The original warehouses built from Cotswold stone at the Tramway terminus in Moreton-in-Marsh
Ref: gwrmm3140
GES Parker
The original warehouses built from Cotswold stone at the Tramway terminus in Moreton-in-Marsh
Close up showing the Fosse Way with the tramway offices and workshops immediately adjacent
Ref: gwrmm982b
Aerofilms
Close up showing the Fosse Way bridge with the tramway offices and workshops immediately adjacent
Plan of the Moreton-in-Marsh terminus showing the various warehouses and wharf areas in 1835
Ref: gwrmm3142
RK Cope
Plan of the Moreton-in-Marsh terminus showing the various warehouses and wharf areas in 1835

Ilmington Wharf

Ilmington Wharf, looking south towards Moreton-in-Marsh with the Armscote to Ilminster Road in the foreground
Ref: gwrmt3111
RK Cope
Ilmington Wharf, looking south towards Moreton with the Armscote to Ilminster Road in the foreground
A closer view of the stone building once used by the tramway at Ilmington Wharfe with the level crossing on the left
Ref: gwrmt3112
RK Cope
A closer view of the stone building used by the tramway at Ilmington Wharfe with the level crossing on the left

Newbold on Stour and Middlefield

Newbold Wharf on 3rd March 1918, with Wharf Cottages on the right and the tramway track still in position
Ref: gwrmt3125
RK Cope
Newbold Wharf on 3rd March 1918, with Wharf Cottages on the right and the tramway track still in position
Looking south from Newbold Wharf along the tramway towards Moreton-in-Marsh on 3rd March 1918
Ref: gwrmt3126
RK Cope
Looking south from Newbold Wharf along the tramway towards Moreton-in-Marsh on 3rd March 1918
This tramway occupation underbridge near Middlefield shows timber decking and brick abutments
Ref: gwrmt3118
RK Cope
This tramway occupation underbridge near Middlefield shows timber decking and brick abutments
An 1887 Ordnance Survey map showing the tramway passing Newbold Wharf Cottages
Ref: gwrmt3127
Ordnance Survey
An 1887 Ordnance Survey map showing the tramway passing Newbold Wharf Cottages

Alderminster

An 1884 Ordnance Survey map showing the tramway passing the village of Alderminster on its way to Moreton-in-Marsh
Ref: gwrmt3124
Ordnance Survey
An 1884 OS map showing the tramway passing the village of Alderminster on its way to Moreton-in-Marsh

Springfield

This 1902 view shows the red brick arched bridge carrying Springfield House's driveway over the tramway to join the Shipston Road
Ref: gwrmt3123
GM Perkins
This 1902 view shows the red brick arched bridge carrying Springfield House's driveway over the tramway
An undated Ordnance Survey map showing the tramway passing through a cutting adjacent to Springfield House
Ref: gwrmt3122
Ordnance Survey
An undated Ordnance Survey map showing the tramway passing through a cutting adjacent to Springfield House

Clifford Chambers

Looking towards Blisworth in 1966 at Clifford Sidings after the SMJR Clifford - Stratford section had been doubled in 1942
Ref: gwrmt3119
RK Cope
Looking towards Blisworth in 1966 at Clifford Sidings after the SMJR Clifford - Stratford section had been doubled
The tramway bridge over the former East & West Junction line (later SMJR), photographed from the adjacent road overbridge at Clifford Chambers on 30th September 1921
Ref: gwrmt3120
RK Cope
The tramway bridge over the SMJR viewed from the adjacent road overbridge at Clifford Chambers
Looking to Fenny Compton from the road bridge with the single line section starting at the end of the siding
Ref: smjc93
GWR Magazine
Looking to Fenny Compton from the road bridge with the single line section starting at the end of the siding
  A 1914 Ordnance Survey map showing the tramway and road bridges crossing the SMJR at Clifford Chambers
Ref: gwrmt3121
Ordnance Survey
A 1914 Ordnance Survey map showing the tramway and road bridges crossing the SMJR at Clifford Chambers

Stratford-on-Avon

Looking along the course of the tramway approaching the river bridge, with the saw mill in the distance
Ref: gwrmt3113
RK Cope
Looking along the course of the tramway approaching the river bridge, with the saw mill in the distance
The saw mill, Stratford upon Avon, viewed from the Tramway bridge on a summer's day in 1899
Ref: gwrmt3114
B Stone
The saw mill, Stratford upon Avon, viewed from the Tramway bridge on a summer's day in 1899
A view from the southern end of the tramway bridge, looking towards Shipston-on-Stour, during the very hot summer of 1899
Ref: gwrmt3116
B Stone
A view from the southern end of the tramway bridge, looking towards Shipston, during the summer of 1899
The Stratford & Moreton Railway embankment, facing Shipston-on-Stour, at the roadside near Stratford upon Avon on 3rd March 1918
Ref: gwrmt3117
RK Cope
The tramway embankment, facing Shipston-on-Stour, at the roadside near Stratford upon Avon on 3rd March 1918
A 1914 OS map showing that by this date the tramway had been shortened by this date to one short siding
Ref: gwrmt3115
Ordnance Survey
A 1914 OS map showing that by this date the tramway had been shortened by this date to one short siding

Miscellaneous

An dated March 1938 article in the Great Western Railway magazine on the history of the tramway
Ref: gwrmt3128
GWR Magazine
An dated March 1938 article in the Great Western Railway magazine on the history of the tramway
Poster announcing the opening of the Stratford & Moreton Railway on 5th September 1826
Ref: gwrmt3141
John Rylands University
Poster announcing the opening of the Stratford & Moreton Railway on 5th September 1826 with a Great Market