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LMS Route: The Shakespeare Route

Bidford-on-Avon Station

The East & West Joint Railway (E&WJR) had intended to give itself access to Birmingham via Fenny Compton and to the south-west via Stratford upon Avon. Whilst the E&WJR had initially intended goods traffic from the Northampton area to be handed over to the Great Western Railway (GWR) at Stratford upon Avon the GWR refused to cooperate insisting that goods traffic be exchanged at Fenny Compton. This meant that for many years the railway failed to fulfil its potential and it wasn't until the extension to Broom was built in the guise of the Evesham, Redditch and Stratford-upon-Avon Junction Railway (ER&SJR) that the power of the GWR declined. The Evesham and Redditch Railway (E&RR) had opened a north-south line in 1866, and was aligned to the Midland Railway (MR). Its line lay only eight miles west of Stratford, and the E&WJR sponsored the promotion of the ER&SJR. This line was authorised on 5th August 1873, and ran west from Stratford to a junction at Broom on the E&RR. The junction at Broom led towards Birmingham. The heavy mineral traffic was destined to move southwards, and the reversal in the restricted layout was to prove inconvenient. It opened on 2nd June 1879 and the seven mile line was worked by the E&WJR; running powers were obtained to Redditch, but they were only exercised from the junction at Broom to the station there. This line was immediately unprofitable and it too went into receivership, but continuing to trade, from 2nd January 1886. The opening of this extension allowed, as planned, the E&WJR to pass its traffic on to the MR at Broom Junction thereby cutting out the GWR. The MR did initially use the line routing its Bristol and Gloucester to London traffic over the ER&SJR/E&WJR, and their successor the Stratford Midland Junction Railway (SMJ) (its Banana trains were of particular note) until 1912 when it re-routed it's traffic via Wigston Junction an action saving them, but costing the SMJ in lost revenue, some £1,100 per annum.

Bidford station was the first station of two stations on the 7½ mile extension on the route from Broom to Stratford upon Avon and opened on 22nd February 1885 not being named Bidford-on-Avon station until 1st July 1909. The single-line route was operated on the 'staff and ticket' principle which limited the line to one train in occupation. A passing loop had not been deemed needed so in 1884 the station consisted of a single platform with a goods yard comprising of a single siding with a long head shunt next to the kilns of Bidford Brick Works (see image 'smjboa163a'. The 1904 Ordnance Survey map showed the arrangement to be very similar with only the head shunt being extended a little more. The 1922 Ordnance Survey map showed that the brickworks had been extended as had the goods yard with two sidings and a revised track layout between the single line and goods yard. A weighbridge and office are marked on the 1922 Ordnance Survey however whilst not identified with the letters 'WM' the same buildings do appear on both the 1884 and 1904 maps. Access to the passenger facilities and to the goods yard was via two separate entrances off Icknield Street (now Waterloo Road) as they were situated on either side of the old Roman Road. Icknield street crossed the railway via a two-arch bridge, one arch of which was used as the station office. Arthur Jordan recounts a tale when schoolboys thought it would be 'great fun to block the smoke stack much to the discomfort and annoyance of the occupants'. Wally Weatherhead worked in that office and recalls 'that local boys would stuff rags in the pipe causing the near asphyxiation of the office occupants'. The rest of the station reflected the penury of the line, for it was comprised of an old van body and a corrugated iron shelter. There were no goods facilities other than a coal siding and a private siding serving a brick and tile works.

In the early years both, Bidford and the only other station on the line, Binton, had ground frames and signals allowing trains to be held pending acceptance by the signalman at either Stratford upon Avon or Broom Junction. Prior to the development of rural bus services both Binton and Bidford on Avon stations handled daily commuters to: Stratford upon Avon, Evesham and Redditch; whilst on Stratford upon Avon's Annual Mop Fair day as many as three hundred extra passengers would be carried on the 6:15pm special train at a fare of 6½d (3p) return. During the plum season the station was very busy as was its neighbour Binton with as many as twenty wagons a day being used to carry the produce off to market. Bidford even had a thriving business despatching large quantities of Hay to 'The Railway Provendor Company' at Manchester with each wagon taking one hundred trusses each. A single siding, later duplicated, had to serve the coal yard before running on into the 'Brick & Tile Company's works. The Railway Clearing House's 1929 Handbook of Railway Stations states Bidford on Avon provided the general public and businesses with a very limited service: Goods traffic and Passenger and Parcels traffic (GP). There were no cranage facilities provided in the goods yard so merchants would either have to man handle the loading/unloading of goods themselves or, if necessary, bring in a mobile crane. The 1894 edition of The Railway Clearing House's Handbook of Railway Stations also recorded the same limited facilities (GP).

The line between Stratford upon Avon and Broom was treated as being separate by the LMS and passenger traffic was minimal, being limited to, in 1905 for instance, four trains daily in each direction. The economy measures brought in as a result of the First World War, which impacted upon all of Britain's railways, compelled the SMJ to close the station on 19th February 1917 which continued until 1st January 1919. The level of service continued at four trains daily in each direction until 1938, when the Second World War meant that the service was reduced to one day train daily in each direction. Even this service was discontinued when all passengers services between Stratford upon Avon and Broom ceased on 16th June 1947. Despite the cessation of passenger services, both Bidford and Binton station remained open until 23rd May 1949 with freight traffic continuing for another decade, not ceasing until 1960, following which the line was lifted.

Much of the information provided on this and other linked pages has been derived from books written by: Arthur Jordon The Stratford upon Avon and Midland Junction Railway published by OPC; JM Dunn's The Stratford upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway published by The Oakwood Press; Messrs Preston Hendry & Powell Hendry in An Historical Survey of Selected LMS Stations Volume One published by OPC; RC Riley and Bill Simpson in their book A History of the Stratford-Upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway published by Lamplight Publications; David Blasgrove in his book 'Warwickshire's Lost Railways' published by Stenlake Publishing which has a brief illustrated overview of some of the stations; and finally Geoffrey Kingscott's Lost Railways of Warwickshire published by Countryside Books which has a section dedicated to the SMJR with 'Now and Then' photographs.

Looking along the platform towards Stratford upon Avon with the station's booking office built into the second arch of the road overbridge
Ref: smjboa1
Postcard
Looking along the platform towards Stratford upon Avon and the booking office built into the bridge's arch
Close up   showing the entrance to Bidford on Avon's innovative booking office which was formed inside the second arch of the bridge
Ref: smjboa1a
Postcard
Close up of the entrance to the booking office which was formed inside the second arch of the bridge
Close up showing the buffer stop to what appears to be a the siding made up of old railway sleepers
Ref: smjboa1b
Postcard
Close up showing the buffer stop to what appears to be a the siding made up of old railway sleepers
A later view looking towards Stratford upon Avon through the road bridge and showing the huts used by the coal merchants
Ref: smjboa2
LGRP
A later view looking towards Stratford upon Avon through the road bridge and showing the huts used by the coal merchants
Close up showing more clearly the limited facilities of the station with the double doors and tiny windows
Ref: smjboa2a
LGRP
Close up showing more clearly the limited facilities of the station with the double doors and tiny windows

Close up showing the grounded coach body  used as a waiting room on Bidford on Avon station's platform
smjboa2b
LGRP
Close up showing the grounded coach body used as a waiting room on Bidford on Avon station's platform
Ex-MR 3F 0-6-0 No 43520 is seen passing Bidford on a goods train made up of an ex-LMS 50' brake, fitted vans and sheeted open wagons
smjboa161
LGRP
View of the station's booking office after closure to passenger services on 16th June 1947
Looking along the length of Bidford station's single platform in the direction of Stratford upon Avon after closure of the station
smjboa162
JM Dunn
Looking along the length of the platform in the direction of Stratford upon Avon after closure of the station
Ex-MR 3F 0-6-0 No 43520 is seen passing Bidford on a goods train made up of an ex-LMS 50' brake, fitted vans and sheeted open wagons
smjboa3
P Hopkins
Ex-MR 3F 0-6-0 No 43520 is on a goods train made up of an ex-LMS 50' brake, fitted vans and open wagons

Ordnance Survey Maps

An 1885 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map showing the approaches to the single platform and the Brick Works sidings
smjboa163
National Library of Scotland
An 1885 25 inch to the mile OS map showing the approaches to the single platform and sidings
Close up of an 1885 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map showing Bidford Siding and the Brick Works sidings
smjboa163a
National Library of Scotland
Close up of an 1885 25 inch to the mile OS map showing Bidford Siding and the Brick Works sidings
A 1904 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map showing Bidford Station and the Brick Works sidings
smjboa164
National Library of Scotland
A 1904 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map showing Bidford Station and the Brick Works sidings
A 1922 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map showing Bidford Station and the Brick Works sidings
smjboa165
National Library of Scotland
A 1922 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map showing Bidford Station and the Brick Works sidings