Wrexham and Ellesmere Railway

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Wrexham and Ellesmere Railway
Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railway
to Whitchurch
Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railway
to Oswestry
Elson Halt
Trench Halt
Cloy Halt
Pickhill Halt
Sesswick Halt
Hightown Halt
Wrexham Central(1887–1998)
Wrexham Central
Shrewsbury and Chester Railway
to Shrewsbury
Wrexham General
WMCQ Brymbo Branch
(Gwersyllt Junction)
Wrexham and Minera Railway
(Wheatsheaf junction)
Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay Railway
to Shotton
Shrewsbury and Chester Railway
to Chester
View southeast towards Wrexham Central in 1959
Ex-GWR Collett 4800 class 0-4-2T No.1432 and GWR Autocoach at Bangor-on-Dee, 19 April 1962

The Wrexham and Ellesmere Railway was a railway line that ran from Wrexham in North Wales, to Ellesmere in Shropshire, England. The line opened in 1895 and closed in 1962. It was a constituent part of the Cambrian Railways.

Background: Cambrian Railways[edit]

Main article: Cambrian Railways

Proposed to be formed from the amalgamation of a series of local regional railway companies,[1] as a result the new company called Cambrian Railways (CR) proposed to base its headquarters in Oswestry. On completion, the station would form the mainline for the London and North Western Railway (LNWR), from Whitchurch on the Crewe and Shrewsbury Railway, to Welshpool in Mid-Wales.[2]

The first connection to Oswestry was made from the south by the Oswestry and Newtown Railway, which operated its first train on 1 May 1860.[1] After a legal tussle between the two competing companies, LNWR and the Great Western Railway (GWR), Parliament authorised building the CR/LNWR sponsored Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railway 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 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.[1] A year later the coast lines joined the CR too. On grouping in 1923, Cambrian Railways became part of the Great Western Railway.


The LNWR wished to make further connections with the CR, and hence proposed an extension of the existing joint Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay Railway (WMCQ) from Wrexham Central to meet the new CR line at Ellesmere.

The WMCQ had opened between Wrexham General and Buckley (old station) on 1 May 1866.[3] A southern extension to a station better situated for the centre of Wrexham was authorised on 18 August 1882;[4] work did not begin until January 1887, and it was opened on 1 November the same year.[5] Wrexham Central was a large station, with a marshalling yard and goods depot accompanying it. The station clock was provided and maintained free of charge by a local watchmaker named Pierce.[5]

Built jointly by the WMCQ and the CR, the Wrexham and Ellesmere Railway was built as a branchline, opened on 2 November 1895. It was operated totally by the CR.[5]

World War 2: ROF Wrexham[edit]

Main article: ROF Wrexham

In the build-up to World War II, a number of shadow factories were built in preparation, located in the Northwest of the British Isles to be out of range of the Luftwaffe.

The Royal Ordnance Factory relocated a number of workers to various sites, and built a number of new factories, including ROF Wrexham. The site employed 13,000 workers,[6] making cordite, an explosive propellent for shells.[7] Spread out over a large site to minimise any potential explosive or bombing damage, the main buildings were camouflaged and existing farm buildings were left in situ to help protect the site against reconnaissance. The Ministry of Works built a large water abstraction and treatment plant at Sesswick on the River Dee, just to supply the plant, which was amalgamated into the Wrexham Water Company (now Dee Valley Water) in 1951.[8]

To connect the site to the national rail network via the WMCQ Brymbo Branch at Gwersyllt Junction. Within the site a large marshalling yard of 10 separate roads connected to the works internal network of rail lines. A passenger platform was built for military usage. All cordite produced at the plant was taken by these sidings, along the W&ER and forwarded to Crewe.[9]


Having been a constituent part of the GWR, in 1963 the former CR lines were to be passed to London Midland Region of British Railways. It was hence decided as part of the Beeching cuts to close the old CR mainline between Oswestry & Whitchurch, but as a precursor to transfer the decision was made to close the W&ER on 10 September 1962.[10]


In light of the closure of the W&ER, Wrexham Central almost closed as well, apart from the fact that the town was undergoing substantial growth. Kept open but substantially rebuilt, today most of its former site and workings are occupied by the Island Green Retail Park. The former viaduct that ran from the embankment east of the original Wrexham Central was demolished in the late 1990s to form the St Giles Way road.

While Ellesmere still stands, now converted to offices, the rest of the W&ER has been removed, the land repatriated to its original farms.



  1. ^ a b c "Oswestry". disused-stations.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-02-05. 
  2. ^ "Oswestry Railway". BBC Shropshire. Retrieved 2012-02-05. 
  3. ^ Dow, George (1965). Great Central, Volume Three: Fay Sets the Pace, 1900-1922. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 49. ISBN 0-7110-0263-0. 
  4. ^ Dow 1965, p. 62
  5. ^ a b c Dow 1965, p. 65
  6. ^ B.A.Malaws, RCAHMW, 2003-08-29 [1](Retrieved 2011-01-05)
  7. ^ G.M.Edwards, RCAHMW, 2003-09-25 [2](Retrieved 2011-01-05)
  8. ^ A History of Water in Wrexham
  9. ^ The Wrexham and Ellesmere Railway - Stanley C. Jenkins and John M Strange - ISBN 0-85361-617-5
  10. ^ Kidner, R.W. (1992) [1954]. The Cambrian Railways. The Oakwood Library of Railway History (2nd ed.). Headington: Oakwood Press. p. 178. ISBN 0-85361-439-3. OL55. 

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