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Stratford upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway Locomotives

LMS Route: 'The Shakespeare Route'

Stratford on Avon Station (63) Stratford on Avon Shed (36) SMJ Locomotives (44)

SMJ Locomotives

E&WJR Double Fairlie 0-6-0+0-6-0 locomotive originally built by the Yorkshire Engine Co for Mexican Railways
Ref: smjsa95
C Maggs
E&WJR Double Fairlie 0-6-0+0-6-0 locomotive originally built by the Yorkshire Engine Co
East West Junction Railway train approaching Clifford Chambers after leaving Stratford on Avon station
Ref: smjsa32
LGRP
East West Junction Railway train approaching Clifford Chambers after leaving Stratford on Avon station
SMJ 0-6-0 No 14 built by Beyer Peacock for the E&WJR is seen standing tender first at the up platform
Ref: smjsa37
Real Photos
SMJ 0-6-0 No 14 built by Beyer Peacock for the E&WJR is seen standing tender first at the up platform
Close up  showing Beyer Peacock built SMJ 2-4-0T No 1   with its paintwork gleaming in the sun
Ref: smjsa56b
Real Photos
Close up showing Beyer Peacock built SMJ 2-4-0T No 1 with its paintwork gleaming in the sun
An East & West Joint Railway passenger train is standing in the station ready to depart for Broom Junction on 20th April 1897
Ref: smjsa167
SWA Newton
An E&WJR passenger train is standing in the station ready to depart for Broom Junction on 20th April 1897

Resplendent in its SMJ livery outside-framed 2-4-0T No 6 stands gleaming in the sun at the head of a Towcester train
Ref: smjsa52b
Real Photos
Resplendent in its SMJ livery outside-framed 2-4-0T No 6 stands gleaming in the sun at the head of a Towcester train
SMJ 0-6-0 No 4 is seen at Stratford on Avon station at the head of a passenger service to Towcester
Ref: smjsa54
Real Photos
SMJ 0-6-0 No 4 is seen at Stratford on Avon station at the head of a passenger service to Towcester
The first SMJ No 7, a  'DX' class 0-6-0 built by the LNWR
Ref: smjsa94
LCGB/K Nunn
View of the first SMJ No 7, a 'DX' class 0-6-0 built by the LNWR at Crewe in 1863 and bought by the E&WJR in 1891
Ex-LBSCR 0-6-0 Stroudley 'C1' class, now  LMS No 2303, running wrong road in Stratford on Avon goods yard
Ref: smjsa34 -
WL Good
Ex-LBSCR 0-6-0 Stroudley 'C1' class, now LMS No 2303, running wrong road in Stratford on Avon goods yard
LMS 0-6-0 No 2309 is passing Stratford on Avon's new signal box on 20th February 1925 at the head of a mixed goods
Ref: smjsa35
WL Good
LMS 0-6-0 No 2309 is passing Stratford on Avon's new signal box on 20th February 1925 at the head of a mixed goods

Close up showing SMJ 0-6-0 No 15 pauses for the driver to dismount at the up platform of Stratford on Avon station
Ref: smjsa53b
Anon
Close up showing SMJ 0-6-0 No 15 pauses for the driver to dismount at the up platform of Stratford on Avon station
Former SMJ 0-6-0 No 17 is seen on 11th April 1924 bringing a goods train through the station 'wrong road'
Ref: smjsa48
WL Good
Former SMJ 0-6-0 No 17 is seen on 11th April 1924 bringing a goods train through the station 'wrong road'
Ex-SMJ 0-6-0 No 2300, formerly SMJ No 2, is seen in Stratford on Avon goods yard marshalling goods wagons
Ref: smjsa46
WL Good
Ex-SMJ 0-6-0 No 2300, formerly SMJ No 2, is seen in Stratford on Avon goods yard marshalling goods wagons
SMJ 0-6-0 No 18 at the head of of a special train conveying the American Ambassador
Ref: smjsa67
Lens of Sutton
SMJ 0-6-0 No 18 is seen at the head of of a special train of GCR stock conveying the American Ambassador
SMJ 0-6-0 No 18 is seen on 11th April 1924 heading a goods train through the station past the up platform
Ref: smjsa49
LGRP
SMJ 0-6-0 No 18 is seen on 11th April 1924 heading a goods train through the station past the up platform

An unidentified E&WJR 2-4-0T stands at the head of a three coach local passenger train bound for Towcester
Ref: smjsa56
Real Photos
An unidentified E&WJR 2-4-0T stands at the head of a three coach local passenger train bound for Towcester
Close up showing the coaching stock in pre-1909 livery of crimson lake below the waist and cream above
Ref: smjsa56a
Real Photos
Close up showing the coaching stock in pre-1909 livery of crimson lake below the waist and cream above
View of SMJ 2-4-0 No 6 standing the original station whilst at the head of a service for Towcester
Ref: smjsa52
Real Photos
View of SMJ 2-4-0 No 6 standing the original station whilst at the head of a service for Towcester
SMJ 0-6-0 No 15 stands immaculate in its livery with polished buffers at the head of a short goods train
Ref: smjsa53
Lens of Sutton
SMJ 0-6-0 No 15 stands immaculate in its livery with polished buffers at the head of a short goods train
SMJ 0-6-0 No 16 leaves the station on 11th April 1924 with a two coach passenger train for Broom Junction
Ref: smjsa50
WL Good
SMJ 0-6-0 No 16 leaves the station on 11th April 1924 with a two coach passenger train for Broom Junction

Ex-LMS 0-6-0 4F No 44043 is seen passing through Stratford on Avon station on a local pick up goods service
Ref: smjsa175
LCGB/K Nunn
SMJ 0-6-0ST No 1 built by Manning Wardle is seen at Stratford upon Avon near the SMJ General Manager's house
Ex-LBSCR 0-6-0 No 2300  stands resplendent in its new LMS livery as the locomotive crew change over
Ref: smjsa33
WL Good
Ex-LBSCR 0-6-0 No 2300 stands resplendent in its new LMS livery as the locomotive crew change over
Close up showing the two rear coaches of the early period SMJ train
Ref: smjsa52a
Real Photos
Close up showing the two rear coaches, both of six-wheel construction, and a GCR four-wheel bogie coach

Locomotives seen on the SMJ during 1923 to 1947 (Grouping)

Ex-MR 2F 0-6-0 No 3696 stands at the up platform with single coach on a passenger working to Towcester
Ref: smjsa41
Real Photos
Ex-MR 2F 0-6-0 No 3696 stands at the up platform with single coach on a passenger working to Towcester
Ex-MR 1P 2-4-0 No No 96 is seen on 8th April 1924 still wearing MR livery whilst working a goods train
Ref: smjsa45
WL Good
Ex-MR 1P 2-4-0 No No 96 is seen on 8th April 1924 still wearing MR livery whilst working a goods train

Locomotives seen on the SMJ from 1948 onwards under British Railways ownership

Ex-MR 0-6-0 3F No 43222 is seen standing at the head of an SMJ Rail Tour special as the fireman pulls coal forward
Ref: smjsa160
A Thompson
Ex-MR 0-6-0 3F No 43222 is seen standing at the head of an SMJ Rail Tour special as the fireman pulls coal forward
Ex-MR 3F 0-6-0 No 3594 is seen at the head of a two coach service to Towcester on the single line section
Ref: smjsa125
VR Webster
Ex-MR 3F 0-6-0 No 3594 is seen at the head of a two coach service to Towcester on the single line section
Ex-LMS 0-6-0 4F No 44043 is seen passing through Stratford on Avon station on a local pick up goods service
Ref: smjsa159
A Vaughan
Ex-LMS 0-6-0 4F No 44043 is seen passing through Stratford on Avon station on a local pick up goods service
Ex-GWR 4-4-0 'Dukedog' class No 9015 is seen at Stratford on Avon at the head of the South Midlander Special
Ref: smjsa154
A Vaughan
Ex-GWR 4-4-0 'Dukedog' class No 9015 is seen at Stratford on Avon at the head of the South Midlander Special
View of the South Midlander special at the down platform with a freight service passing through the up platform
Ref: smjsa158
A Vaughan
View of the South Midlander special at the down platform with a freight service passing through the up platform

Ex-MR 0-6-0 3F No 43222 is seen standing at Stratford on Avon station in 1956 with a special train for Broom
Ref: smjsa126
HC Casserley
Ex-MR 0-6-0 3F No 43222 is seen standing at Stratford on Avon station in 1956 with a special train for Broom
An unidentified ex-WD 2-8-0 locomotive is seen crossing the bridge carrying the former SMJ route over the River Avon
Ref: smjsa124
AT Locke/KRM
An unidentified ex-WD 2-8-0 locomotive is seen crossing the bridge carrying the former SMJ route over the River Avon
Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 44188 stands at the head of a SLS Special at Stratford Old Town station on 24th April 1965
Ref: smjsa173
R Postill
Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 44188 stands at the head of a SLS Special at Stratford Old Town station on 24th April 1965
Ex-GWR 4-6-0 Hall class No 6940 'Didlington Hall' is seen passing through Stratford on Avon station
Ref: smjsa157
R Fisher
Ex-GWR 4-6-0 Hall class No 6940 'Didlington Hall' is seen passing through Stratford on Avon station
Ex-GWR 2-6-0 43xx class No 6368 and ex-GWR 0-6-0 2251 class No 2246 at Stratford on Avon on a down special
Ref: smjsa148
R Fisher
Ex-GWR 2-6-0 43xx class No 6368 and ex-GWR 0-6-0 2251 class No 2246 at Stratford on Avon on a down special

Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 44525 is seen at Stratford on Avon station's down platform on the final passenger train service
Ref: smjsa146
A Thompson
Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 44525 is seen at Stratford on Avon station's down platform on the final passenger train service
Ex-GWR 4-6-0 Hall class No 6940 'Didlington Hall' is seen crossing the River Avon on a freight to Fenny Compton
Ref: smjsa147
R Fisher
Ex-GWR 4-6-0 Hall class No 6940 'Didlington Hall' is seen crossing the River Avon on a freight to Fenny Compton
Ex-WD 2-8-0 No 90312 is seen crossing over the former GWR line as it proceeds to Broom on a engineer's train on 28th May 1960
Ref: gwr_src1521
TE Williams
Ex-WD 2-8-0 No 90312 is seen crossing over the former GWR line as it proceeds to Broom on a engineer's train
Ex-LMS 0-6-0 4F No 44043 is seen on a down freight about to cross the former GWR lines on 11th June 1957
Ref: gwr_src1525
TE Williams
Ex-LMS 0-6-0 4F No 44043 is seen on a down freight about to cross the former GWR lines on 11th June 1957
Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 44188 stands at the head of a SLS Special at Stratford Old Town station on 24th April 1965
Ref: smjsa173
TE Williams
Ex-GWR 0-6-0 2251 class No 2211 is seen at the head of the 'Tiddly Dyke' as it readies to leave the ex-SMJ station

The LMS Ro-Railer

Stratford upon Avon Transport Notes -Volume 02/04 by J R Jennings SMJR line archivist.

Stratford upon Avon Transport Notes Volume 02/04 J R Jennings The LMS “Ro-Railer” I have been researching and lecturing on the Stratford upon Avon and Midland Junction Railway for over forty years. It is incredible how many times I am asked about the “Ro-Railer”. This vehicle only served in revenue service for a few weeks. It has taken on almost mythical status and although it deserves a place in history its main contribution to Stratford is that it put the station at Old Town and the LMS railway as an alternative route clearly in front of a much wider public than it had ever previously enjoyed. Not since the days of the “Harvard” special trains in the pre-Great War era did so many people crowd onto the 'other' Stratford station as on the morning of 23rd April 1932. I estimate that more photos were taken of the Ro-Railer (and certainly more survive) than of any other ex-SMJR line subject. If only the unique Fairlie engine had enjoyed similar status! This short volume has been edited over the years as new data has come to light. It draws together information that appears in many sources elsewhere.

The Stratford upon Avon and Midland Junction Railway and the LMS Railway that took it over in 1923 made various attempts over the years to offer a through connection between Stratford and London. The rival GWR route with a change at Leamington Spa was longer than either the Stratford - Marylebone or Stratford - Euston possibilities that existed using the SMJ route. In the early 1900s a through service was provided by a coach that was worked over the SMJ line before being attached to a Great Central Railway London service at Woodford. This involved the coach being 'trip worked' from Byfield to Woodford and back. Its progress over the SMJ line to Stratford was slow because it was attached to a normal all stations stopping train. The Railway 'grouping' of 1923 put the Great Central Railway in the LNER camp with the SMJ becoming part of the LMSR. This really ended any future cooperation on through coaches via Woodford. The 'gateway' from the SMJ line to London had always been via Woodford because when the GCR London extension was built the need to generate traffic was paramount and the layout at Woodford took account of interchange traffic with the SMJR. The LMS could direct traffic to its West Coast Main Line at either Blisworth or Roade. The connection at Roade had never been fully utilized even for freight but the interchange at Blisworth was one of the better used parts of the ex SMJ system and although passengers would need to walk through to the main p latforms a reasonable connection to the capital could be achieved. The authors of the vario us books on the SMJ have never effectively explored why the Roade connection was not developed for passenger through traffic. In mileage terms it was very attractive but the most plausible explanation is that the LMS (and LNWR before it) did not want to stop express trains at a relatively unimportant station to attach/detach through coaches of dubious commercial benefit to them. Some authors have suggested that the track layout at Roade dating from the 1840’s and the lack of a shunting engine at all times were also considerations.

During the 1920s competition from road transport was becoming a big problem for all of the railway companies and they explored ways of cutting costs and developing new traffic on loss making lines. The LMS were aware that Stratford upon Avon was an increasingly important destination with the attractions of the 'new' theatre and their own investment in the Welcombe Hotel. Ways of providing a passenger service of reasonable journey time were considered and it was decided to trial a new concept of vehicle that could run on both rail and road. If successful this would have great potential to win traffic for lightly used lines. In the case of the Stratford service it would be possible to convey passengers and their luggage directly to and from the Welcombe Hotel via the SMJ line as far as Blisworth where with just one change of train they would be conveyed directly to Euston. The journey time would be enhanced by the vehicle running non-stop from Blisworth to Stratford although the constraints of a difficult single track line often meant waits at Towcester and Kineton.

The LMS Ro-Railer UR7924 was ordered by the LMS carriage division at Wolverton in Feb 1931. The supplier Karrier Motors of Huddersfield was a surprise to some as they were running down their bus production having earned a poor reputation for reliability in the 1920's. The chassis was a standard Karrier Chaser powered by a 6 cylinder engine with a maximum rating of 120hp. The Chaser was the last serious bus design by Karrier. The body was built by Cravens to their B26C design and featured 14 front facing seats in the forward vestibule and 12 longitudinal seats in the rear smoking saloon. Luggage space was provided on the roof or by folding up some of the seats in the rear vestibule. It weighed 7tons 2cwt and was fitted with railway sanding gear, lamp irons and emergency drawgear for locomotive haulage. Loco haulage was limited to 20mph although apart from the presumed rescue on its demise there is no record of loco haulage taking place. The pneumatic road wheels and traditional flanged rail wheels were mounted on a manually set eccentric arrangement and could be switched from road to rail in under five minutes by one man whilst the vehicle stood over a sleepered crossing. The technical arrangements are dealt with fairly comprehensively in most of the books that have been published about the ex-SMJR line.

After delivery and acceptance at Wolverton it was put on trial on the Hemel Hemstead – Harpenden branch where it was photographed in late 1931 by H C Casserley. In an attempt to gain publicity the LMS decided to allocate this first experimental vehicle to the ex SMJ section and the service was launched at Stratford upon Avon on 23rd April 1932. This is an important day for the town as it is the birthday of William Shakespeare and there would be many influential people and pressmen around on the day. As previously mentioned the LMS had converted a mansion at Welcombe into a Hotel and the Ro-Railer was charged with conveying passengers directly to it without the need to transfer themselves or their luggage at the railway station. There was a minor skirmish with an omnibus company who held the local carriage license and objected to the LMS in effect providing a service on their territory although they did not offer a route from Stratford LMS t o the Welcombe hotel! This was resolved by the LMS agreeing to charge a flat rate fare of sixpence (6d) for any intermediate fare stage if passengers were picked up in the town. There were few takers.

The Ro-Railer suffered from the same problems as many early road bus conversions to rail in that it was too light for efficient rail adhesion particularly on a line like the ex SMJ which had the gradient profile of a switchback. It struggled to maintain progress uphill and was then driven hard on the downhill to compensate. (The author experienced a very similar vehicle still in use in Chile in 1993 and the ride qualities were not for the faint hearted!) The lack of effective suspension and springing meant that the hammer blow from rail joints and crossings was transmitted to both machinery and occupants. Early failure of some vital part was inevitable and after a few weeks of operation the Ro-Railer broke a front axle component whilst in service near Byfield. It was removed to Wolverton and never used again as a rail vehicle although the fact that its road registration was renewed for a number of years after suggests disposal for use as a road vehicle. The LMS did have plans to order more including goods/passenger convertible versions for branch line use. These plans were abandoned by virtue of a short minute at an LMS board meeting in late 1932.

In view of its novelty and the launch on 23rd April there is a wealth of photographic material of the vehicle. In addition to the railway coverage the odd shot of it on the streets of Stratford keeps coming to light as residents come forward with a photograph taken by a relative of this 'unusual vehicle' as the local paper had described it. Apart from Casserley's efforts not too many photos of it exist outside of the Stratford area or in any other SMJ l ine station. The launch of the service drew a large gathering of contemporary railway enthusiasts many of who can be seen in the photographs that have been well published over the years. Some cine films of the vehicle have survived and at least one copy is held in the archive collection administered by Rob Foxon of Leicester.

One Ro-Railer story that has recently surfaced was that it was alleged to have been sent out to substitute for an unavailable loco and coach on the Stratford - Broom Junction scheduled service one day. The turntable at Broom was unavailable (the East to West connection forming a triangle was 10 years in the future) so the Ro-Railer returned backwards!

A view of the Ro-Railer at Stratford on Avon's up platform during one of the tests held during April 1932
Ref: smjsa30
The Shakespeare Trust
A view of the Ro-Railer at Stratford on Avon's up platform during one of the tests held during April 1932
View of the Ro-Railer passing through Stratford on Avon and the old Shakespeare Theatre on its way to the station
Ref: smjsa121
AT Locke/KRM
View of the Ro-Railer passing through Stratford on Avon and the old Shakespeare Theatre on its way to the station
Changing the wheels configuration of the Ro-Railer from travelling on the road to travelling on the rails
Ref: smjsa122
AT Locke/KRM
Changing the wheels configuration of the Ro-Railer from travelling on the road to travelling on the rails
The Ro- Railer is seen travelling 'wrong' road after leaving the single section from Fenny Compton
Ref: smjsa123
AT Locke/KRM
The Ro- Railer is seen travelling 'wrong' road after leaving the single section from Fenny Compton
The Ro-Railer reverses off the railway on to road using the special ramp which lay adjacent to the cattle dock
Ref: smjsa47
Anon
The Ro-Railer reverses off the railway on to road using the special ramp which lay adjacent to the cattle dock

The Ro-Railer is standing at the up platform whilst ex-MR 4-4-0 No 556 stands on the middle road
Ref: smjsa104
Lens of Sutton
The Ro-Railer is standing at the up platform whilst ex-MR 4-4-0 No 556 stands on the middle road
The Ro-Railer is seen reversing on to the ramp where it can lower its road wheels to proceed by road
Ref: smjsa66
Lens of Sutton
The Ro-Railer is seen reversing on to the ramp where it can lower its road wheels to proceed by road

Stratford on Avon Station (63) Stratford on Avon Shed (36) SMJ Locomotives (44)