Minsterley Branch Line
|Minsterley Branch Line|
A rail tour at Minsterley station c. 1964
Minsterley railway station
|Owner||Great Western Railway
London and North Western Railway
|Line length||6.5 miles (10.5 km)|
|Number of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Minsterley Branch Line (1861-1967)|
The Minsterley branch was a short railway line that ran from Cruckmeole Junction on the Cambrian Line just south of Shrewsbury to Minsterley in Shropshire. The six-and-a-half mile standard gauge line was the only section built of a plan to connect Shrewsbury with mid Wales. It was part of a joint venture between the Great Western Railway and London and North Western Railway companies.
The route, which was conceived in the late 1850s, was planned to connect Shrewsbury via Hanwood on the Cambrian Line, with Pontesbury, Minsterley, Montgomery and Newtown. Services would also be able to continue to the Welsh coast. At Pontesbury station, transfer sidings connected the narrow gauge Snailbeach District Railway, which ran to lead mines at Snailbeach.
On 14 February 1861, the first section of line was opened from Cruckmeole Junction - on the Cambrian Line - and Minsterley. However, with the northerly section of the Cambrian main line into Wales opening the following year in 1862 (connecting Newtown via Welshpool to Shrewsbury), it became apparent there was little need to continue beyond Minsterley to Newtown. The station became the terminus of the cancelled project.
Decline and closure
By the start of World War II, regular traffic on the line had almost ended. Passenger services ceased to Minsterley in 1951, although Hanwood station on the Cambrian Line remained open to passengers until the early 1960s and to goods until 1964. The rest of the branch line to Minsterley continued to carry goods (mainly for the Minsterley Creamery) until 1967 when the line was closed as part of the Beeching cuts. The track line was lifted after closure.
Minsterley site today
The former terminus at Minsterley is now a large meat factory (a large dairy-related factory also exists on either side of the old trackbed just before the terminus) and the stationmaster's house has been converted to a private residence.