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British Industrial History

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Bishops Castle Railway

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School Lane, High Street, Bishops CastleShropshire, SY9 5BQ. For visitor information see their website.

This was a 9.75 mile line. The original plan behind the Bishops Castle Railway in 1861 was to build a line from Craven Arms to Montgomery, thus linking the Shrewsbury to Hereford line to the Oswestry to Newtown, Powys line (later called the Cambrian Line), linking Mid-Wales and Shrewsbury, with a branch line from Lydham to Bishop's Castle.

From the start, the railway was hampered by shortage of capital. Many investors were already involved in more established lines and did not want competition and distractions to dilute their returns. However, the company soldiered on, possibly hoping to dispel doubts and generate interest.

1860 a railway to link Bishop's Castle with Craven Arms was first mooted. The Act of Parliament for the construction of the line was obtained in 1861.

In October 1865 the line was completed and opened using a borrowed locomotive pulling borrowed coaches

Regular traffic started the following year, but only from Craven Arms to Bishops Castle. Usage never picked up sufficiently to finance the whole plan and the section of track planned to complete the link was never completed. The double junction at Lydham Heath was partly completed, but that half faced the 'wrong way' for Craven Arms. At Lydham, engines reversed direction to complete the journey to Bishop's Castle, uncoupling, running around their carriages and re-coupling for the last few miles. The money ran out and the line was never profitable.

In January 1867, a sale by auction of property belonging to the company was held in Shrewsbury. A Receiver was appointed to run the railway. The Bishop's Castle Railway Company remained in receivership for 69 years and 2 months until it closed. This may be a record.

Rural bus services started in 1900, consigning the Bishops Castle line further as a provincial oddity in the glorious story of steam trains and railway history. It grimly persevered and ran until 1935, supported by loyal locals, staff and its management.

1908 Company was in the hands of a receiver appointed by the Court of Chancery. [1]

Operations were formally suspended on Saturday, April 26, 1935. The final demolition train left the line at Stretford Bridge Junction on Sunday 21 February 1937. Most of the rails went as scrap metal to Birkenhead where they were used by the Cammell Laird shipyard in the construction of HMS Prince of Wales. [2]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. [1] Wikipedia