Photo By D J Norton

Stonebridge Railway

This page was inspired by a single photo from the collection, a photo labelled, 'B+DJR Stn, Hampton'.  A quick Google introduced me to the fascinating history of the Stonebridge Railway line from Whitacre to Hampton.  Owned by the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway company, this little line became a crucial part of the journey from Derby to Birmingham and London in the late 1830's. At Hampton passengers could join the London and Birmingham line to either Curzon Street or Euston.  This arrangement didn't work well and a new line was constructed from Whitacre to Lawley Street in 1842 thus beginning the fall into obscurity of the line to Hampton.

It quickly became clear that all this history was well know to my father as many other pictures from the line are to be found throughout the collection and I've tried to gather them here to show how much was still left to see in the 1950's even though passenger services had ceased in 1917 and freight in 1935.

Vince was kind enough to share his memories of the line:-
"I was around 6 y.o. when mother used to walk to what is now Maxstoke Golf Club, to collect wood from the trees felled to make the course. (Circa 1946).  Our path crossed the line and it fascinated me.  The line may have been closed then, but I can remember couple of years later visiting the line to look at the parked wagons and carriages.  This was done a number of times as I explored further, even walking to the square water tower at Whitacre station.  Originally Maxstoke station was called Coleshill until the one at the end of station road was built.  The last station master was a Mr Pratt and his daughter Dot, lived very close to us in Coleshill, at the back of what is now Lloyd's Chemist.  We lived next door, now a dentists.  The track was taken up I think around 1951 and by fate or design the dismantlers lodged with Dot.  Memory tells me they used steam crane to lift track."

However, it seems that Vince's memories weren't quick correct...  Ian, who was Dot's son, also got in touch to say, "My grandfather William Leary was the last stationmaster and "Dot" was William's daughter".

There's lots more information on Wikipedia and many more fascinating pictures on Warwickshire Railways.

Maxstoke Branch Platform Whitacre Stn - 30/6/59

Maxstoke branch platform Whitacre Station
This picture is looking north-east towards Whitacre Station from the Hampton branch.  The station was rebuilt on the site seen above in 1864 when a line from Whitacre to Nuneaton was opened.  It's hard to miss the water tower to the left!

Site of Branch - 24/7/55

Site of Whitacre Hampton branch line
I'm pretty sure this is looking towards Whitacre from just north of Maxstoke station.  If you look at the view below, it's easy to imagine my father simply turning through 180 degrees between taking these two pictures.

Branch & Maxstoke Stn - 24/7/55

Branch line and Maxtoke station
This is my favourite!  Looking south towards Hampton the 1839 station building looks splendid in the summer sunshine, surrounded by fields.

Maxstoke Stn - 24/7/55

Maxstoke Station
A close up view of the station building taken from Maxstoke Lane.

Bridge nr Maxstoke - 24/7/55

Bridge near Maxstoke
I think this bridge was south of Maxstoke station and provided access to a property known as Colesleys.  This opinon is based on the associated picture of the milepost, below, that is clearly marked on an 1890 map of Warwickshire.

Milepost 2, Hampton-in-Arden to Whitacre Branch - 24/7/55

Milepost 2 from Whitacre
Presumably located close to the bridge pictured above, this milepost indicates that we are two miles from Whitacre junction.

Hampton-in-Arden Whitacre line nr Maxstoke Stn - 11/6/50

Bridge over River Blythe on Whitacre branch
Now I'm going to be a little contentious with this picture and its companion below.  There is a very similar view on the Warwickshire Railways site and the caption says that the bridge was located north of Maxstoke station with the photographer looking towards Maxstoke.  However, the 1890 Warwickshire map shows that the River Blythe passed under the railway at right angles to the line.  The view above clearly shows the river turning at a sharp angle and running parallel to the line.  The only place it did this is just south of the bridge seen above.  My view, therefore, is that this picture is looking towards Hampton with Maxstoke behind the photographer.  As always, I'm open to persuasion otherwise, especially as the line crossed the river many times due to the way the Blythe meanders through the area...

In response to the above, Penny was kind enough to get in touch and said that she, "recognised the location of one of the photos.  It is located on a footpath off the Old stone bridge on Maxstoke Lane. OS Explorer 221 grid ref 214882. It is located Northwest of Maxstoke and the image is facing southwards. The site can be accessed today.  The brick plinths for the bridge are still visible on either side of the river Blythe."

Site of bridge over River Blythe - 24/5/55

Site of bridge over River Blythe on Whitacre branch
Nearly five years after the picture above was taken, the bridge had gone...

Branch Line nr Hampton-in-Arden - 10/7/55

Branch line near Hampton-in-Arden
Here we are close to Hampton Junction and it's clear that the lines are still in use here as sidings.  I think that the road passing under the line at this point is Old Station Road.

Branch nr Hampton-in-Arden - 10/7/55

Branch line near Hampton-in-Arden
A little blurred but an interesting companion shot to the one above and taken a few yards closer to Hampton Junction.  You can get a clear impression of how the track layout changed when the line was singled.  Note the catchpoints in the foreground.

B+DJR Stn, Hampton - 27/6/61

B&DJR station Hampton
The original B&DJR Hampton station building dating back to 1839 survives to this day!  The branch to Whitacre would have headed off in the direction of the photographer when it was still in place.

Hampton - 27/6/61

A nice view looking towards Birmingham with the old station building on the right and Hampton signal box on the left.