Tewkesbury Railway Remnants

This post is really an expansion of the the original post I did called “Up and Down The Avon” which was supposed to deal with a trestle bridge and which has been expanded considerably since then. I have now decided to create a single post dealing with my findings. Some of the images from that original post will re-appear here as a result. 

The whole story behind the railway in Tewkesbury really center’s around the long closed Upton-upon-Severn line, and frankly I am not the expert in this endeavour. There is a wonderful website that explores Malvern’s Lost Railway much better than I can.   

This post will start out at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, the current station that serves the town although it is nowhere near the town. 

Early morning charter tour train

Ashchurch used to be a major junction at one point, with lines heading in 4 different directions. A period map shows the basics of what was a very complex junction. Unfortunately I cannot put a date to this map

Tewkesbury would be left of the Junction and the line to Cheltenham will go downwards and Worcester upwards.  All that is left is the line to the right that terminates at the MOD Depot although it used to head towards Evesham.

There is also a water tower still to be seen near the station, but that is it.

That is the approach to what is left at Ashchurch, the line on the right curves off to the MOD depot.  

The trackbed of the railway line heading to Tewkesbury is now a cycle path, and I use it regularly. There is one small bridge that goes over the road that still has remnants of the steelwork from the railway

The cycle path with the small bridge heading towards Tewkesbury
The little footbridge on the cycle path from the road beneath. The steel girders are still in place as is the brickwork although the bridge is a jerry built effort.
The cyclepath looking towards the town.
Somewhere along this path the line would have split, one section to the right becoming the Upton-upon-Severn branch and the remaining line headed into town where it would terminate at what is now Station Street. This is now a parking lot and I believe part of the wall dates back to the original station.
Close to the split is what I believe was the former goods yard, its impossible to access because of the vegetation and for some strange reason is fenced off. It is a mass of foliage and this corner is the best image I have of it. Google Earth co-ordinates are:  51.995903°  -2.147396°
The line would continue a bit further bisecting the town and heading towards Healings Mill that straddles the Avon and Severn. 
There is an interesting plaque in town that ties into this line.
 From the station the line ran into Quay Street and onto the mill. 
Quay Street
Quay Street

The Avon is bridged by two bridges at the mill. 

Bridge over the Avon
Bridge over the Avon
This bridge was erected in 1822, and is really two bridges alongside each other. The slight arch of this bridge would have made rail traffic difficult, so a flat bridge spans the river next to this one and this flat bridge would have carried the rail traffic into the mill area.  

That ends this branch line and we now return to where the line splits at the cycle path.

Returning back to the cyclepath, the line takes to an embankment that is completely overgrown, although it is doubtful whether any lines are still on it. There is a small gap at “Gas Lane” but the bridge for it is gone. The embankment continues to where it ends in a buttress at Bredon Road.   

 
 
The image above I took from the embankment and you can see the trestle bridge over the marina in the distance. My neighbour says that originally there was no bridge up to the trestle, the embankment stretched all the way across to it and the road only came afterwards. However, I spotted an image in town that may scupper that theory. The road was always there and was spanned with a bridge. The embankment then continued onwards to where the trestle bridge is today, it then crossed the current marina, went over the viaduct to the tunnel then onwards. 
That is the bridge that spans the road, and the buildings on the left still exist. I doubt that the current trestle bridge over the marina is the original, although the butresses still exist. 

The line then continued onwards to a viaduct that still stands although it has been fenced off

 
Did trains really travel over this viaduct? it is in line with the Mythe tunnel entrance so it is entirely feasible, 
This image I took from the approach to the viaduct, and the Mythe tunnel is where the cars are parked, I do think there must have been some sort of embankment leading to the tunnel though, the distance is quite short and for a steam engine to climb from the tunnel to the viaduct in such a short space would have been difficult as the grade would have been quite steep.  The Mythe tunnel still exists although it is sealed. Unfortunately the door was not accessible as it was fenced off although I was able to zoom into it from the gate. 
  
I discovered the other end in December 2016 and it is bricked closed. The tunnel appears to be roughly 300 metres long. 
That concludes the physical remnants in the Tewkesbury area, however, in Toddington you will find the Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway that used to be based in Tewkesbury. They have a number of relics from Tewkesbury that I will explore next time I am there. The 3 images of the signage were taken in their engine shed. 
That more or less concludes my relics for now. I still have exploring to do, but from a railway point of view there is not much left. Sadly a lot of the closing of this line was courtesy of the infamous “Beeching Axe” while some closures pre-dated it. Such is the way of small towns, railways and accountants.  Fortunately many closed lines provided the basis for successful heritage operations, although in the case of Tewkesbury it did not. 
An interesting snippet from the British History website has the following:  
“A branch railway from the main line at Ashchurch was built under an Act of 1837 and opened in 1840. Until 1844, when the branch was extended to the Quay, the carriages were drawn to and from Ashchurch not by steam-engines but by horses.  In the same period Tewkesbury was losing its former coach traffic, and in 1845 the diversion of the London Hereford mail to the route through Gloucester and Ledbury deprived Tewkesbury of its last four-horse coach.  In 1861 the Malvern & Tewkesbury Railway was built  from the Tewkesbury branch through the Mythe, passing by a short tunnel under the Mythe Tute. It crossed the Avon by a cast-iron bridge designed by William Moorsom.  The station on the new line became Tewkesbury’s passenger station, and the branch station became the goods depot. Passenger services were withdrawn from both lines in 1961; the permanent way across the Mythe was removed in 1964, and in the same year goods services between Tewkesbury and Ashchurch were withdrawn.”
 
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 27/12/2016, added pic of Ashchurch 13/01/2016, 21/02/2017 

It is war I tell you!

Wartime in the Cotswolds played itself out this weekend, and I decided to share in the fun by visiting the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway that runs between Cheltenham and Toddington. I have travelled with this heritage operation twice before and they run a very professional operation.  I had also encountered a very similar day on the Great Central Railway in 2015  so it would be interesting to see how this weekend played out. The weather was also very kind to us on this day, and apart from a chilly wind it was quite an enjoyable day weatherwise. I was also going to test my new camera on this trip and was very wary about running out of batteries, although I do have 3 batteries that I carry and if push comes to shove can still use my cell phone camera.

Of course being wartime you do have to be wary of surprises around every corner, so listen very carefully, I will say this only once… War is hell! 

The first train to leave Cheltenham Race Course was not a steam engine much to my dismay, instead it was the Class 117 diesel railcar. I have been on it before and it is somewhat of an odd vehicle. 

 

I managed to snag one of the front seats so was able to see the drivers controls and the view of the rails behind us,  This is a composite of 3 images. 

Driver sits on the left.

And then we were off, the train packed with people in period civilian outfits and military uniforms. It was amazing because they took so much effort to look the part, some of the women were truly stunning in their hats and gloves and seamed stockings, and for the first time I saw children in period clothing along for the fun too. They are the ones who will be doing this in 20 years time and it is great to see that the spirit will be carried forward with them. 

Our route takes us from Cheltenham Race Course Station to Gotherington, 

Through the Greet Tunnel,

To Winchcombe

Where we would wait for the next train to come past us heading towards Cheltenham Race Course. This train was headed by the immaculate 2807, a ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built in 1905. and owned by Cotswold Steam Preservation Limited and, after a 29 year restoration, is one of the GWR’s resident locomotives.

And then we were off again, heading to our final stop: Toddington. The station is really a destination on its own and in this case it was really a microcosm of Allied Servicemen and Women with a smattering of old civilian and military vehicles, although American equipment was dominant.

I bailed off the train, pausing to watch 4270 with the next train. She is a “42xx” class tank locomotive and made her debut at the 2014 Cotswold Festival of Steam and is now a regular performer on the GWSR.

I then ambled over to the exhibits, pausing to admire a really nice restored M4A4 Sherman that was formerly a “range wreck”

Behind the tank was Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway, and I had read that they would also be running trains on this day. There is a South African connection to this railway, and to Tewkesbury. But that was assuming the train was running. We had passed their loco shed and I had seen a steam loco in steam at their shed, so I was hopeful. 

Until then I walked around, looking at interesting exhibits, especially the military vehicles. 

Then there was movement and I headed down to the platform where the narrow gauge train was uncoupling, unfortunately it was a diesel as opposed to the steamer I had hoped for, The problem was that the train would not leave unless it had enough passengers, and so far I was the only one.

I drifted off to go look at the well armed half track that was parked nearby. Oh wow, I am so sorry they did not let off a few bursts with that quad browning.

And then there was movement at the narrow gauge railway and I headed back to it, boarding the small coaches en route for California Crossing where the steamer shed was.

The line is a short one, only 3/4 of a mile, and there is not much to see, However, the shed has 4 narrow gauge loco’s.

Justine
Tourska
1091
Chaka’s Kraal No 6

Chaka’s Kraal No 6 spent all its commercial working life in the South African sugar cane industry being delivered to Gledhow Chakaskraal Sugar Co. Ltd. for use on their estates in Natal. It was purchased by a group of members and returned to the UK in 1981. It had originally been built in Leeds in 1940.

My loco spotted, it was time to shake my head at the station name plate. 

Meanwhile, things were afoot back at the main station with the imminent departure of 7820- Dinmore Manor. 

Now which loco was at Platform 1?  

Talking about Loco’s I also went to the running shed viewing area hoping to get a decent pic of 35006 P&O, but once again a decent pic evaded me. I wish they would turn her to face the other way so that I can see her from the front.

The shed lines were surprisingly empty, but there was still a lot of trains and rolling stock in place.

It was time for another round of photography, and the images below are of various vehicles on display.

Unfortunately I was starting to tire a bit and decided to see what I could see at the station. Another loco was now waiting its turn and it was 2807, a member of the ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built in 1905.  I was considering heading back down the line to Winchcombe, and this train was not too far off from departure

Besides, the wartime music was driving me crazy. I still have “..it’s a long way to Tipperary….”  going around inside my head some 4 hours later!

I crossed the footpath in front of the loco and headed down to the field behind the station, it was jam packed with cars and was almost a mini military camp in itself.  In fact, there was even a sodding BREN there to torture me.

Fortunately I no longer have to worry about whether it is clean or not. My timetable said that the next train was about ready to leave in 10 minutes so I ambled across the footbridge.

The loco had moved to the head of the train so I decided to join this one and head back towards Winchcombe. It felt good to get a load off though. I was really pooped.

Departure was due to happen at 12.20, but nothing happened, instead the conductor came around and announced that we were delayed due to an “unexploded bomb” at Winchcombe. This delay threw my plans out because we would not budge until the train at that station was here. so we waited. It was now touch and go whether I would head fro home of bail at Winchcombe. Eventually the up train arrived and we were given the token to leave. 

It is not a long ride to Winchcombe and I did not really feel up to spending an hour at the station, it was bad enough that it looked like the whole cast from Dad’s Army and ‘allo ‘allo was standing on the platform.

Then we were off again, next stop: Gotherington.

 

And the other train was standing at the passing loop over there, being serenaded by a very nice lady with a magnificent voice who kept on telling us the “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…

And finally we arrived back at Cheltenham Race Course. The war was over for another day. 

The loco moved to the back of the train (making it the front), and I headed for the exit. I still had a long walk to the bus stop and then once in Cheltenham I still had to catch the bus back to Tewkesbury. 

It had been a long and busy day but I had enjoyed it. I am amazed at how the English go headlong into something like this, the amount of people in uniforms and costumes was amazing. I also saw a number of old men who were obviously veterans from WW2, and their numbers are dwindling too. But as long as there are those who are willing to go to the expense of acquiring a uniform then days like this will give us all a taste of what wartime Britain was like. I see a lot of evidence of it, the war is still remembered, it has not faded from the national psyche, it is still a part of the people of this country.

V for Victory, and may we never tread that path again.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 23/04/2016 

Up and down the Avon.

This fine morning, I climbed on board my trusty Rusticle and headed off down the road to town, my objective being to investigate the Mythe Bridge further, as well as the railway tunnel and railway viaduct in the area.  
I have consolidated the material relating to the railway in a separate post
 
My Mythe Bridge exploration did yield some improved images and it is better to take a look at the original blogpost about the bridge.
 
The railway tunnel is a literally “over the road” but unfortunately was not accessible as it was fenced off and closed off. Although I was able to zoom into it from the gate. 
  
I discovered the other end in December 2016 and it is bricked closed. The tunnel appears to be roughly 300 metres long. 
The next objective was the railway viaduct which is visible from the road. I eventually found a way to get close to it although I could not get onto it as it is fenced closed.
 
Did trains really travel over this viaduct? it is in line with the tunnel so it is entirely feasible, 
  
This image I took from the approach to the viaduct, and the tunnel is where the cars are parked, I do think there must have been some sort of embankment leading to the tunnel though, the distance is quite short and for a steam engine to climb from the tunnel to the viaduct in such a short space would have been difficult as the grade would have been quite steep.  
 
I also tried to access the trestle bridge that runs over the marina but could not get that right so shelved the idea for awhile, and decided to head back to town.
 

There is a short river cruise that runs along the Avon and I considered taking that if it was running on this day. I would then be able to kill a few birds with one stone.

Approaching the King John Bridge from town is the Old Black Bear Pub which was supposedly founded in 1308, and which is the oldest public house in Tewkesbury.

The Black Bear
The Black Bear

The Avon River played quite an important part in Tewkesbury in the days of yore, and of course flooded in 2007, putting Tewkesbury on the map. Today it is more of a leisure boating type river, with fisherpersons lining its banks and small boats puttering up and down the river.

  
The large building on the right in this image is an old mill building and it has a very pretty iron bridge spanning the Avon. 
Bridge over the Avon
Bridge over the Avon
 
This bridge was erected in 1822, and is really two bridges alongside each other. The slight arch of this bridge would have made rail traffic difficult, so a flat bridge spans the river next to this one and this flat bridge would have carried the rail traffic into the mill area.  
  
The river cruise happens a bit further down from here, and on this particular trip there were only 4 people on board. 
  
Then we were off, puttering along a waterway that has been in use for who knows how long. We were heading towards the marina and that was where I could satisfy my curiosity.
 
Just look at that steelwork. They don’t build bridges like that anymore.
 
The next bridge we were approaching is the King John’s Bridge which was commissioned by King John in the late 12th century as part of improvements to the main road from Gloucester to Worcester. This bridge was widened in the mid-to-late 1950s to meet traffic requirements although original stonework still exists on the bridge.


And then finally our boat reached the trestle bridge over the marina.

 

And my first thoughts were: Ok, where is the original structure? because there is no way that this was it, especially when you look at the stonework on either side. I kept on thinking that this was almost like a Bailey Bridge or a slightly used former bridge that needed a new home.

We continued puttering along, passing cabin cruisers and narrow boats, although some were not all that narrow. eventually reaching a turning basin where the boat turned around, 10 minutes after we had left.
And back we headed towards our berth in town.

Past the Avon Locks that I had posted about before 

With the old mill on the right. What will happen to this building? I suspect yuppie pads. It is technically prime real estate with riverside views. It is probably the tallest building in the town apart from the abbey.  I spoke to somebody about it and it is a listed building and as such they are unable to do much for it so it will probably remain derelict until it falls down on its own. 


And into the crocodile infested mooring berth… No, I do not have an explanation.

with the Abbey in the distance.

It was nearly time to head off home and I strolled along the slightly deserted streets of the town to where my velocipede was chained. I had a whole wodge of new stuff to consider, and of course a few pics to add to the collection. Next time around I want to see how far I can follow the Severn River, and of course try to find the other side of that tunnel and find some more info about the railway. The current cycle path is laid on the former trackbed of the railway, and there is a tantalising piece of railwayana in the centre of town.
 
From the station the line ran into Quay Street and onto the mill.
 
Quay Street
Quay Street
The Upton Line is one with the tunnel,  It is an interesting mystery though, and maybe it is time I contacted the society mentioned on the plaque. There may be a lot more just waiting for discovery. But that will have to wait for another day.
 
Update:
I never did get a reply about the mysterious bridge, however, very close to where I live is an embankment and buttress for a bridge that would have joined up to the trestle bridge.
 
 
 
The image above I took from the embankment and you can see the trestle bridge in the distance. My neighbour says that originally there was no bridge up to the trestle, the embankment stretched all the way across to it and the road only came afterwards. However, I spotted an image in town that may scupper that theory. The road was always there and was spanned with a bridge. The embankment then continued onwards to where the trestle bridge is today, it then crossed the current marina, went over the viaduct to the tunnel then onwards. 
That is the bridge that spans the road, and the buildings on the left still exist. 
It does however seem that I can now put this to bed because a lot of the dirty work has been done for me at Malverns Lost Railway
Out of curiosity, the Ashchurch Junction was quite a complex layout and I found an old map (no date though) which shows the extent of the junction.
The cycle path is part of the old trackbed and there is one small bridge that goes over the road that still has remnants of the steelwork from the railway
The cycle path with the small bridge heading towards Tewkesbury
The little footbridge on the cycle path from the road beneath. The steel girders are still in place as is the brickwork although the bridge is a jerry built effort.
The cyclepath looking towards the town. The former grain store would have been on the right, and at some point the railway would have branched off onto the embankment heading towards Upton.   
It amazes me how all the railway related equipment is all gone and there is almost nothing left. It is a shame that Tewkesbury has become divorced from the railway, with proper rail links the town may have become greater than it is now, but sadly it is now just another glorified bus stop. 
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 27/09/2015, Images migrated 02/05/2016, Additional pics added 26/12/2016