History of the Battlefield Line

Market Bosworth Station

The Ashby & Nuneaton Joint Railway - How it all Began...

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Please Download to view at Larger SizeIn 1873, the London North Western Railway and the Midland Railway opened a joint line between Moira West and Nuneaton. Although known as the Ashby-Nuneaton line, Ashby itself was not on the joint line, but on the Midland's Burton-Leicester and was linked with the joint line by a triangular junction at Moira West.

The length of the joint line from Moira West to Nuneaton-Ashby Junction was 29 miles and was the only joint line of any importance that was built by the two companies. The only other - also in Leicestershire, was at the Enderby branch which left the main line at Narborough and ran 2 miles to Enderby Quarry and was used entirely for freight. The other portion of the Ashby Nuneaton line was a branch from Shackerstone Junction to Coalville. In 1883 The Charnwood Forest Railway was opened, this could only be acessed by the ANJR near Hugglescote.

In the 1923 grouping these lines were assigned to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

Timetabled passenger services finished in 1931 apart from special excursions. These continued until the early 1960's. The Coalville-Shackerstone line closed completely in 1964. The last steam hauled passenger train to pass through was an enthusiasts special in 1965, headed by a Standard Class 2. The Ashby-Nuneaton railway survived until early 1970 before British Rail finally axed the line.

During its heyday Shackerstone was a busy junction station. In 1922, no fewer than five trains a day in each direction passed through between Ashby and Nuneaton and another between Nuneaton and Burton. Motor trains worked by the LNWR also operated between Shackerstone ANJR Timetable 1923and Loughborough Derby Road Station. In addition to this busy passenger schedule there was intensive goods traffic. A number of old accounts for goods services, some dated as early as 1873, were found when the old station safe was opened. The original signal box was a large Midland type containing 36 levers controlled the junction at Shackerstone, unfortunately it was demolished before it could be preserved, although elements of it can still be found in some of the local buildings today.

The stations on the line are all built to a similar pattern, but Shackerstone is singularly attractive for the tree lined approach from the village. It has been suggested that these trees were planted at the request of Lord Howe of Gopsall Hall to beautify the station. No one could dispute that they have done so. The drive, which looks more fitted to carry visitors to a stately home than to a station, did in fact carry Royalty on at least one occasion in 1902 when Edward VII and Queen Alexandera visited Gopsall Hall. Queen Victoria passed along the Ashby and Nuneaton on her way to Sheffield for her Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in 1897, as did King George VI.


Whitwick Milepost: 8 miles to LoughboroughIn 1874 the Charnwood Forest Company was incorporated to lay a single-track railway between Loughborough and the Ashby & Nuneaton line near Coalville. A ceremony marking the beginning of work in was held in 1881 and the line was opened in 1883. The intention was to link it to the Midland main line. This however never happened and the terminus was at Loughborough Derby Road. It was worked from outset by LNWR who had subscribed a third of the capital in exchange for half the receipts.

LNWR Railcar at WhitwickThe railway was adjudged to be bankrupt in 1885. By 1909 the railway left the hands of the receiver and was a separate company until becoming part of the LMS in 1923.

In passenger days it was known as the 'Bluebell Line'. Passengers trains were operated by an LNWR steam railcar, though 2-4-2 tanks. 0-6-0 freight and 0-6-2 'Coal Tanks' also worked passenger as well as freights.

Probably the most impressive item on the line is the viaduct in the Grace Dieu woods, still there today and you can walk across it with a bit of effort.

Passenger services were withdrawn on 13th April 1931, although excursion trains ran until 1951. Loughborough goods yard closed on 31st October 1955 and the remaining goods services closed on 7th October 1963, except for Shepshed quarry traffic which lasted to 12th December 1963.

More about the "Bluebell Line" at
Whitwick Online and
Thringstone Online

ANJR and Charnwood Forest Lines


And links to other associated sites

Nuneaton - Moira

Shackerstone - Coalville Branch

Hugglescote Junction to Loughborogh

LNWR Map of the ANJR

Download to view (right click)

Can You Help Us?

As you can see above we have a variety of histroical data and photographs of the A&NJR, but we have room for much more!
Do you have any photos or memories of the railway? We would be very pleased to hear from you if have.

We are especially interested in photos of the following stations;

  • Donisthorpe
  • Overseal & Moira
  • Higham on the Hill (We would really like one of this Station!!!)
  • Stoke Golding
  • Nuneaton Abbey Street
  • Any of the Charnwood Forest Halts or Stations


The Battlefield Line Railway, The Shackerstone Railway Society Limited,
Shackerstone Station, Shackerstone, Leicestershire. CV13 6NW. United Kingdom.
Tel: 01827 880754

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