Oswestry and Newtown Railway
The Oswestry and Newtown Railway was a railway line that ran from Mid Wales to the Shropsire border town of Oswestry, later a constituent part of the Cambrian Railways.
Authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1855, delays in securing land, shortage of money and contractors going bankrupt delayed construction. It agreed to a joint station with the Newtown and Machynlleth Railway in Newtown, but decided to build a grand headquarters station at Oswestry.
Despite running along relatively flat land for the region, the O&NR faced crossing two major rivers. The first was the River Severn, which meandered its southern section south of Welshpool. The second was the River Vyrnwy, encountered once immediately to the south of Llanymynech. This section and onwards south to Newtown (Powys) hence became single track with passing loops within the stations to reduce costs, with the major traffic predicted to be north from the lime stone quarries and Hoffman kilns accessed from Llanymynech.
However, the directors underestimated the construction difficulties or resultant costs, and tighter and tighter contracts simply resulted in a number of contractors going bankrupt. But, despite all the difficulties, on 1 May 1860 it was the first railway company to reach Oswestry.
In July 1864 on completion of the LNWR sponsored Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railway, to join with its neighbours (Newtown & Machynlleth, Llanidloes & Newtown) to form Cambrian Railways. A year later the coast lines joined too. On grouping in 1923, Cambrian Railways became part of the Great Western Railway.
After the suspension of service on the Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway (PS&NWR) in June 1880, Cambrian Railways came to an agreement with Richard Samuel France, chief engineer of the PS&NWR, and its receiver on 28 January 1881, to maintain the stunted Nantmawr branch which accessed France's own quarries. The Cambrian would pay a royalty of 3d per ton, which was renewed but the toll was reduced to 2d a ton in January 1886.
On 11 April 1894 the Cambrian agreed to build a 0.5-mile (0.80 km) deviation from its own Llanfyllin line to join the Nantmawr line at Wern. The Nantmawr branch reopened as a Cambrian subsidiary on 1 January 1896 and the deviation followed on 27 January. A lease for 99 years followed on 12 April 1900, with the Cambrian paying £555 a year: half itself, half from the Tanat Valley Light Railway, which opened on 5 January 1904.
In 1963, the line was reallocated to become 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 between Whitchurch,Oswestry and Welshpool also the Llanfyllin branch were withdrawn. Passenger services between Oswestry and Gobowen continued until 7 November 1966. Freight services continued to run from Gobowen to Oswestry section until 1971.
The southern section from the junction with the former Shrewsbury and Welshpool Railway at Buttington, through Newtown to the junction between the N&MR now forms part of the Arriva Trains Wales Cambrian Line.
The single line, which allowed stone trains to run from Gobowen through Oswestry and Llynclys "North" Junction to Llanyblodwel quarry until 1988, is disused but still remains intact and in place today. The Cambrian Heritage Railway (CHR) applied for a Transport & Works Act Order for transfer of NR's rights to itself and this was granted on 28 February 2017. This permits the CHR to reopen the route from Gobowen to Blodwel Quarry subject to level crossings of the A5 and A483 being replaced by a tunnel and overbridge respectively.