WORCESTER & WOLVERHAMPTON RAILWAY
& the formation of the
WEST MIDLAND RAILWAY
desire by ‘Narrow’ gauge railway companies in South Wales
to circumvent the problems of the change to Broad gauge, provided the
catalyst which would eventually lead to the formation of the West Midland
A company had been originally authorised in 1853 to build a line from
Hereford to Worcester, but it languished until 1856. In this year the
Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway, injected capital into the
Worcester and Hereford scheme in an attempt to solve its gauge problems.
As a small struggling company it was however in no position to provide
the entire capital required, and approached the O.W.W.R. The board of
the Worcester company received this opportunity with enthusiasm, as
the scheme would also allow them access to South Wales, and agreed to
provide some of the finance.
In 1858 an Act of Parliament was obtained for the purpose of building
the line from Hereford to Worcester.
The first section Henwick (Worcester) to Malvern Link opened in July
1859 and was worked, as a detached line, by the Oxford, Wolverhampton
company; the through connection to the O.W.W.R. proper not being completed
until May 1860, when the Severn bridge, with two 128 foot spans, was
"passed" for passenger traffic. With a further extension to
Malvern Wells the branch was now 9.5 miles long but any further progress
was delayed by the hard rocks encountered in the tunnel under the Malvern
During the construction of the Hereford and Worcester line, there developed
a strong and friendly relationship between the three companies, which
with an Act of Parliament on 1st. July 1860, dissolved the N.A.H.R.
and W.H.R. and merged them into the O.W.W.R. which was itself renamed
the West Midland Railway.
The board was enlarged from 16 to 23 to accommodate five new members
from the N.A.H.R and two from the W.H.R.. William Fenton retained his
post as Chairman as did W.T.Adcock as secretary and A.C.Sherriff as
traffic manager, the new company had W.P.Price, ex N.A.H.R, as Deputy
Chairman. The power of the six G.W.R. directors on the board was limited
to the affairs of the ex O.W.W.R. section. The W.H.R. shareholders were
guaranteed 4%, rising to 5% in three years, the remaining revenue to
be divided between the O.W.W.R. and N.A.H.R. in the proportion 78% to
At the formation of the West Midland Railway it consisted of two unconnected
sections, as below:-
From the outskirts of Oxford at Wolvercot, to Bushbury Junction, Wolverhampton;
with branches to Chipping Norton, Stratford-on-Avon, the Midland Railway
at Stoke Prior and Abbots Wood, Malvern Wells and to the London and
North-Western Railway at Tipton.
From the Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway at Hereford, to the Monmouth
Railway near Pontypool; with facilities by agreement only, to Newport
and branches to the Taff Vale Railway at Quaker's Yard, and the Monmouthshire
at Llanhilleth in Ebbw Valley.
In total about 173 miles.
There was also the more or less derelict Stratford & Moreton Railway
with branch to Shipstone-on-Stour.
The connecting link between Malvern Wells and Hereford was in active
progress, and work had begun on the Aberdare Extension to Quaker's Yard
Besides the routes above the West Midland had interests, by agreement
to lease or work, in the following railways, authorised or under construction
The Severn Valley Railway from the O.W.W.R. at Hartlebury to Shrewsbury
- 40 miles
The Bourton-on-the-Water Railway, from Chipping Norton Junction to
Bourton - 6.5 miles
The Much Wenlock & Severn Valley Junction Railway, from Buildwas
on the Severn Valley Railway to Much Wenlock - 3.5 miles
The Tenbury and Bewdley Railway, from the Severn Valley Railway at
Bewdley to Tenbury - 15 miles
The Stourbridge Railway, from Stourbridge to Old Hill - 3.5 miles