Weedon–Marton Junction line
The Weedon–Marton Junction line (also known as the Weedon–Leamington line) was a rural branch line in England that linked the West Coast Main Line at Weedon, running via Daventry to Marton Junction, where it joined the Leamington–Rugby line and thus connected to Leamington Spa.
|Leamington Spa former branch lines|
Route and stations
There were six stations on the line:
- Weedon (which allowed interchange with the West Coast Main Line)
- Napton & Stockton
- Southam & Long Itchington
The line was single track throughout with passing loops at each of the stations except Flecknoe. Provision was made for a passing loop at Flecknoe, but it was never used. The line passed under the Great Central Main Line at Wolfhampcote between Braunston and Flecknoe, but there was never any physical connection between the two lines.
The single track line was constructed in two phases by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR). First a four-mile (6 km) long branch to Daventry from the West Coast Main Line at Weedon was constructed in 1888, opening on 1 March of that year.
In 1890 the LNWR obtained powers to build a 14-mile (22 km) extension of the branch to reach the existing Leamington–Rugby line at Marton Junction (just south of the village of Marton). The extension was opened on 1 August 1895.
The line was built with economy in mind, and contained some steep gradients of up to 1 in 80, especially near Daventry. In 1906 a railmotor was experimentally used on the line, however it proved to be underpowered. Passenger services reverted to push–pull operation with a conventional locomotive for the rest of the line's existence.
Passenger services originally consisted of four trains each way per day, with additional services between Weedon and Daventry, however by the 1920s and 30s this had grown to eleven trains each way per day, some of which continued to either Nuneaton or Northampton (requiring reversal at Blisworth). Additional trains also ran in the mornings and afternoons between Leamington and Flecknoe (later cut back to Napton) for the benefit of schoolchildren. A short lived slip coach service from London was introduced for a while in the 1900s but was not a success. The service was cut back sharply during World War II, and the pre-war timetable was never fully reintroduced. The growth in bus and car traffic meant that the passenger numbers declined from the 1940s onwards. Flecknoe station was the most remote station on the line and closed to passengers in 1952 but remained open for freight until 1956. All passenger services on the line were withdrawn on 13 September 1958.
The main source of freight traffic on the line was the cement works at Long Itchington, and this provided enough traffic to keep the line open for a number of years after passenger services had been withdrawn. However, the line was closed as a through route in December 1963, and the tracks between Weedon and Long Itchington were lifted the following year. A short section was retained between Marton Junction and Long Itchington to serve the cement works, along with a stretch of the Rugby-Leamington line from Rugby. Freight trains running to Long Itchington had to reverse at Marton Junction. This last stretch was closed on 20 June 1985, and the tracks were lifted in 1987.