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09 August 2009

Henley and Lapworth Railway

The branch line from Henley-in-Arden to Lapworth was three and a quarter miles long and joined the main Great Western Railway Birmingham to London Paddington line at Rowington, south of Lapworth. It was started by the Birmingham and North Warwickshire Railway in 1861 as a mixed gauge line, but abandoned half-complete after five years due to a lack of money. More than 30 years later the Great Western Railway-sponsored Birmingham and Henley-in-Arden Railway Company completed the line after being granted an Act of Parliament in 1889 and opened it on the 6th of June 1894. Henley station had a single platform and building, a goods shed and an engine shed with a rectangular water tower at one end. The line was taken into GWR ownership on 1st of July 1900, a month before the GWR took over the Birmingham and North Warwickshire Railway Company in order to open a new mainline to the West of England. The journey took 13 minutes and there were no other stations on the line. The rails were lifted in World War I for use behind the trenches, but the ship carrying them sank in the English Channel.

In 1908 the new Tyseley to Bearley GWR North Warwickshire line opened and a new Henley station was built on it. The original station then became virtually obsolete, although passenger services officially continued until 1st January 1915 and goods until 1st January 1917. The line between the goods shed and new station continued in use for goods until 31st December 1962. The goods line was eventually severed from Henley as it crossed the A34 Stratford Road by a bridge which was demolished in the 1960s. The North Warwickshire line was threatened with closure in 1971, but is still in use today.

The route of the closed branch is clearly marked on the Ordnance Survey Stratford-upon-Avon map (sheet 151) from just north of the current Henley station to the former GWR mainline at Rowington. On the ground it was quite obvious on the 15th of July 1990 when I visited and took some photographs, as some of the bridges and the abutments of others were still intact. The original goods shed was in industrial use near the A34 at Henley. The route disappeared into the fields as it neared the former junction with the London to Birmingham line.

Photograph List

BriOP  P.130 Lapworth station building.
BriOP P.131 Lapworth station.
BriOP P.135 Henley-in-Arden old station with an 0-4-2T and three 4 wheeled coaches.
BriOP P.135 Henley-in-Arden old station after closure, overgrown.
PttM P.81 Lapworth platforms in June 1971.
PttM P.81 Lapworth station buildings from the road side in June 1971.
GDotGW P.204 Lapworth station, signal box and corrugated hut with 6029 King Edward VIII on the 4:30pm Sundays only from Wolverhampton to Paddington on 8th October 1961.



BRiOP Birmingham Railways in Old Photographs  by Mike Hitches - Sutton Publishing (1997).
GDotGW The Great Days of the Great Western Railway by David St. John Thomas and Patrick Whitehouse - BCA (1991)
PttM  Paddington to the Mersey by Dr. R. Preston Hendry and R. Powell Hendry – OPC (1992).
Warks Warwickshire by Vivian Bird - B.T. Batsford (1973).




None of these photographs or observations imply that there is public access to any of the sites mentioned. No fences or gates were climbed to gain access to these sites, but the author suggests that anyone wishing to visit them gains permission from the relevant landowner first.


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