The Ashby &
Nuneaton Joint Railway - How it all Began....
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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 2¾ 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 and 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.
In 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.
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.
We are especially interested in photos of the following
Overseal & Moira
Higham on the Hill (We would really like one of this
Nuneaton Abbey Street
Any of the Charnwood Forest Halts or Stations
Battlefield Line Railway, The Shackerstone Railway Society Limited,
Shackerstone Station, Shackerstone, Leicestershire.
CV13 6NW. United Kingdom.
Tel: 01827 880754
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