Redditch to Ashchurch Timeline
(An abridged version of this timeline was published in the 2019 edition of the "Almoner's Pen", the annual newsletter of the Vale of Evesham Historical Society)
The Redditch Railway's plans for a line from Barnt Green on the established Birmingham-Gloucester line to Redditch are approved by Parliament.
The first trains run to Redditch.
The Midland Railway gains approval to build a branch from Ashchurch to Evesham.
The Evesham and Redditch Railway is authorised. This would prove to be the most difficult part of the line to construct and build with long 1-in-120 gradients and a tunnel at Redditch required. It would be a single track line.
The Ashchurch to Evesham section opens. It has been built as a double track.
The section from Evesham to Alcester is completed and Alcester opens to passenger traffic.
Alcester opens for goods traffic.
The last part of the Redditch tunnel, south of Redditch station is cut.
Connecting facilities between the two lines at Evesham are provided, although full junction facilities would not be provided for nearly another century.
The Alcester to Redditch section opens, completing the branch from Barnt Green to Ashchurch.
An engine shed at Evesham is opened at some point around this time. A turntable is also supplied.
With the Evesham and Redditch Railway being absorbed into the Midland Railway, the latter now has full control of the line. It is now the most strategically important of the vale lines for getting the vale's produce to Birmingham and beyond.
As a wartime economy, single track working is introduced between Bengeworth and Beckford.
Double track is restored to the section between Bengeworth and Beckford.
The line becomes part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway at this time.
A passenger train derails at Ashton-under-Hill, resulting in the death of the driver, and the fireman suffering severe injuries. Fortunately, the carriages remain upright during the crash, and neither of the two passengers on board suffers serious injury. The cause of the derailment is subsequently blamed on a combination of poor track and instability issues with the class of locomotive being used.
The LMS engine shed at Evesham is closed, although the turntable continues to be used (and extended at some point after 1930).
Wixford station is closed.
A new loop at Broom Junction means that the line now sees iron ore trains from Woodford Halse and Banbury using it to get to South Wales. This would continue to 1960, when a new loop at Stratford-Upon-Avon would see the trains diverted along the Stratford to Cheltenham line.
Coughton station is closed.
Bengeworth station is closed.
Hinton station is downgraded to an unstaffed halt.
A new connection between the GWR and LMS lines at Evesham is installed to allow westbound trains on the former to go southbound on the latter (and vice-versa). This is intended mainly for diversions off the Stratford to Cheltenham Line between Honeybourne and Cheltenham.
The branch comes under Western Region control.
DMUS are introduced, initially providing and hourly service to Redditch. By 1964, these have been reduced to two a day.
With the line between Evesham and Redditch declared unsafe, passenger services are withdrawn from this section of the line, along with goods services between Alcester to Evesham.
Passenger traffic between Evesham and Ashchurch are withdrawn.
Apart from a small section to serve the MOD depot at Ashchurch, the line south of Evesham is closed. This leaves Evesham with just the former OW&W/GWR station serving it.
During the removal of track at Hinton, the engine in charge of the demolition of the track, GWR Class 22XX no. 2232, is derailed on points. As the engine is at low speed, no one is hurt and the spectacle draws a small crowd of locals to observe. The train is re-railed by placing timbers in the point blades and then reversing the engine up the timbers and back onto the rails.
The remaining goods services between Redditch and Alcester are withdrawn.
The Evesham to Alcester section is officially closed.
Proposals are put forward to close the Barnt Green to Redditch section of the line, but the expansion of Redditch into a "New Town" is enough to save this section.
The Midland railway bridge over the River Avon is removed.
The last remaining Midland sidings at Evesham are closed.
Ashchurch station closes, having lost the branches to Redditch and to Tewkesbury at this point.
The station at Redditch re-opens after being rebuilt, this being the forth station in the town.
The Redditch to Barnt Green is electrified as part of improvements to the "Cross-City Line" from Redditch to Lichfield via Birmingham New Street.
Ashchurch station is reopened, but like Honeybourne, is reduced in status from a junction station to an unmanned halt.