Presenter: Barry Taylor
On 28th January Barry Taylor presented “The Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway (SMJ)”. The idea of a railway across rural Northamptonshire and Warwickshire was conceived to carry Northamptonshire iron ore to the steel works of South Wales. Barry explained the route of the constituent parts which went ‘from nowhere to nowhere through nowhere’. The four constituent companies opened their network of lines between 1871 and 1891 but spent time either closed temporary or in administration hovering on bankruptcy. Only the East and West owned its own locos and financial certainty was only achieved by the mergers of 1909 and 1910 becoming the SMJ in the process but the intervention of the First World War and grouping into the LMS cut short its independence.
It had connections with the MR, LNWR, GCR and GWR but for most of its life it was the MR connections at the extremities that brought the much needed through traffic and following improved connections in 1942 and 1960 brought additional through traffic particularly from the GCR at Woodford Halse. Various sidings were created along the route to tap iron ore from local quarries.
Passenger services ceased between 1947 and 1952 and all lines closed by 1965 except from Fenny Compton to MOD Kineton which remains in use today.
Barry took us step by step with photos of all routes whilst open then closed with photos of what is still visible today including a couple of restored stations.