Oswestry railway station
|Original company||Oswestry and Newtown Railway|
|Post-grouping||Great Western Railway
Western Region of British Railways
|1 May 1860||Station opened|
|7 November 1966||Closed to passengers|
|1971||Closed to freight|
|Disused railway stations in the United Kingdom|
|Closed railway stations in Britain
A B C D–F G H–J K–L M–O P–R S T–V W–Z
|UK Railways portal|
Oswestry railway station was a railway station in Oswestry, Shropshire. After the Beeching Axe cut the Cambrian Line and passenger services in 1966, the station building today is used as commercial premises.
Proposed to be formed from the amalgamation of a series of local regional railway companies, as a result the new company called Cambrian Railways (CR) proposed to base its headquarters in Oswestry. Using existing Parliamentary Act approval for development of a station, it proposed to build closer to the centre of the town than the existing Great Western Railway (GWR) station, which had opened in 1848. On completion, the CR station would complete the mainline for the London and North Western Railway, from Whitchurch on the Crewe and Shrewsbury Railway, to Welshpool in Mid-Wales.
The first connection to the station was made from the south by the Oswestry and Newtown Railway, which operated its first train on 1 May 1860. After a legal tussle between the two competing companies, LNWR and GWR, Parliament authorised building the CR/LNWR sponsored line to Whitchurch in August 1861, driven by the need to regenerate Ellesmere. However, the proposed route was heavily fought over by land owners, with the eventual tracks running via Fenn's Moss, requiring additional civil engineering, support and drainage to overcome the local bog conditions. On the 25 July 1864 the CR was formally created, allowing the first CR train to the run from Whitchurch into Oswestry two days later on 27 July 1864.
The station consisted of two main platforms, which each had two bays either end, creating a total of six platforms: one main up; one main down; two bays up; two bays down. Built to standard gauge, there was an allowance to build a third freight-bypass track down the middle of the running road, which was completed later by the GWR in 1923. The station building was designed by a local architect in keeping with CR constituent design philosophies, but was substantial and included a great deal of office accommodation and a Boardroom. This was to allow, once the first CR train had run into the station from the north, the CR to formally move its headquarters and administration base to the station building.
After the station opened, the CR demolished the temporary wooden 2-road O&NR shed, located just north in the fork between the GWR junction to Gobowen and the CR mainline to Whitchurch. Designed, engineered and hence based on standard LNWR practice, when completed it comprised: 4-road running shed; 2-road lifting shed; 55 feet (17 m) turntable; coal tip; plus associated offices and mess rooms.
On the opposite side of the tracks, the CR later built its own railway works. Its construction of 22 locomotive roads and an 11 carriage and wagon works sidings, hastened Oswestry's boom as a railway town: from a population of 5,500 in 1861; to nearly 10,000 40 years later.
Under the Railway Act 1921, the CR was allocated to the GWR. The GWR immediately closed its competing station outside the town, and moved all services to either pass through or terminate at the former CR station. The main GWR service integrated was the shuttle to Chester via Gobowen on the Crewe and Shrewsbury Railway.
The GWR immediately made the CR/LNWR engine shed its divisional base for the new Oswestry locomotive division, allocating it code: OSW. In 1929, the GWR improved the facilities, adding electric lighting to the entire complex, extra inspection pits, and a GWR standard-pattern single-ramp coaling stage. A further improvement programme occurred in 1939, when the wooden roof was replaced with steel trusses, allowing the introduction of improved clearances, increased ventilation and additional glass shuttering.
An administrative oddity occurred throughout the period of control by the GWR, in that a singular ex-LNWR engine was stabled but not allocated to Oswestry shed from 1923, only attached to the shed after 1946 when the UK railway system was nationalised under British Railways.
In 1963, the station was reallocated to became part of the London Midland Region. In the review under the Beeching Axe the Cambrian Railway mainline was decreed surplus to demands, and hence scheduled for closure.
On 18 January 1965, passenger services to Welshpool and Whitchurch finished, and hence the locomotive shed closed. A shuttle service to Gobowen operated by Diesel Multiple Units continued until 7 November 1966 when both the station closed to passengers and the works closed.
Freight services continued to run until 1971, but following this much of the station was demolished, to leave only the main building. A single line, which remains in place today, ran from Gobowen through the station to Llanyblodwel quarry until 1988.
The station was sold in the 1980s to local businessman Mr Den Hinton and became Oswestry DIY & Home Centre. The offices and former Cambrian Railways boardroom on the first floor were converted into eight flats and two bedsits. The ground floor was opened up to form a large retail area and the rear platform was enclosed to provide storage.
The building was sold to Owens Motor Factors in 1993 who renamed their car parts business Cambrian Autoparts. During their redevelopment of the car park adjoining the building (which covered the land that previously carried the Oswestry to Gobowen line) a large air raid shelter was uncovered which had tunnels running off it to the old railway works.
In the late 1990s the site was purchased by Tesco with the aim of developing a supermarket on the land behind the station and using the original station building as the frontage and entrance foyer which would incorporate small, specialist retail units. After a fierce (and controversial) planning battle, permission was refused and the site remained empty until its purchase by the local authority in 2005.
The single railway track, overgrown and rusting, still runs through the station, and is the subject of a plan by Cambrian Heritage Railways to reopen the line between Oswestry and Llanyblodwel, and eventually to Gobowen to reconnect with the mainline. The main platform at Oswestry station is presently being reconstructed.
- "Oswestry". disused-stations.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- "Oswestry Railway". BBC Shropshire. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- Edward T. Lyons C.Eng MIStrucE (1978). An Historical Survey of Great Wester Engine Sheds 1947. Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN 901888161 Check
- "Two stations for Oswestry". Shropshire County Council. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- "Cambrian Railways works". discovershropshire.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
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