Mid Wales Steam Railways Tour Journey Notes 1 - Shrewsbury to Welshpool.
Times in brackets are approximate passing times - assuming departure from Shrewsbury on schedule at 11.29. Left or Right refers to when facing direction of travel.
L - Shrewsbury’s Severn Bridge Junction Signal Box. With 180 levers at its peak, this is the largest operational mechanical signal box in the world! Note that the semaphore signals in the station are of the upper quadrant type but those immediately afterwards are Great Western Railway lower quadrants.
R - Shrewsbury Traction Maintenance Depot. The former Coleham Goods Yard, Network Rail stable here up to four Class 97/3s for when locomotive hauled trains are required on the Cambrian Lines - there are no freight trains. A Permanent Way Depot adjoins.
L - Sutton Bridge Junction and Signal Box. Just before the signal box was the junction for the northern end of the Severn Valley Railway to Bridgnorth which closed for passengers and through freight in 1963. Today, the SVR from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster is a major Heritage Railway. The Welsh Marches lines to Hereford, Abergavenny and Newport curve away to the left.
From here, the Cambrian Line begins - all single track with train movements controlled from Machynlleth by ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) with computer screens in the driver’s cabs.
L - The Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway. 18 miles long from Shrewsbury Abbey station, this ran alongside the Cambrian Line for a couple of miles before crossing over it at Hookagate and heading north-west to connect at Llanymynech with the former Cambrian Railways line from Oswestry to Welshpool. With a chequered history, it was taken over by the War Department in 1941 to serve an extensive camouflaged ammunition depot at Nesscliffe and there were exchange sidings and a signal box here at Hookagate; the line closed in 1961.
(11.35) R - Hanwood. Former station building; closed to passengers in 1960 (together with all other stations on this line before Buttington), Hanwood’s signal box was opposite the station and there was a goods yard until 1964. Half a mile west of here on the left was Cruckmeole Junction for the 6.5 mile branch to Minsterley via Pontesbury where there were transfer sidings from the narrow gauge Snailbeach District Railway which served lead mines in the area. The branch closed to passengers in 1951 but goods continued until 1967. Sidings at Cruckmeole served small coal mines in the area - the Shropshire Coalfield. 2.25 miles further west on the main line was Yockleton Halt.
(11.41) R - Westbury (Salop). Former station building by the B4387 level crossing north of the village; there was a passing loop, signal box and a small goods yard here. Plas-y-Court Halt was 2.25 miles after Westbury and after another mile we cross the border; Croeso y Cymru - Welcome to Wales!!! Another former station was located near here south of the village of Middletown - in 1928, the station name was changed from Middletown Hills to Breidden - the name of the hills to the north.
(11.47) R - Buttington Station & Junction. Just before the A458 level crossing (with a former crossing keeper’s cottage), the old track formation of the Cambrian Railways line can be seen heading north to Oswestry via Llanymynech (branch to Llanfyllin) and Llynclys Junction (branch to Llangynog). Buttington had four platforms but trains from both lines ran to/from Welshpool. Local passenger trains on the Shrewsbury line were withdrawn in 1960 and the station closed in 1965 when passenger services from Oswestry ceased and the line closed south of Llynclys Junction. Cambrian Heritage Railways now operate a short section of line from Llynclys and also from Oswestry.
We arrive at Welshpool at 11.50; leave the station by the footbridge.