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Totem

at Oswestry and Llynclys

The Beginning

The first railway to reach Oswestry, in 1848, was a branch off the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway, which ran to Oswestry from a junction located at Gobowen. This railway was eventually taken over by the Great Western Railway in 1854.

Gobowen Station - August 2004

Following the opening of the branch from Gobowen, the next railway to arrive in Oswestry was part of the Oswestry and Newtown Railway in 1860. This opened from its own station, a few yards from to the east of the Shrewsbury and Chester (GWR) station.

Also in 1860, the Oswestry and Newtown Railway built a branch line from Llynclys Junction to the quarry at Porthywaen. Then in 1863, the Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railway opened its line into Oswestry from the north.

In July 1864 the Oswestry and Newtown and the Oswestry,Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railways amalgamated with the Newtown and Machynlleth, and the Llanidloes and Newtown Railways to form the Cambrian Railways (Joined in 1865 by the Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway)

This meant that by 1866 the Cambrian Mainline from Whitchurch to Aberystwyth, through Oswestry was complete, together with its various branch lines

In 1896 the Light Railways Act was passed, which enabled funds to be raised to build the Tanat Valley Light Railway, opening in 1904. From the outset, the Cambrian Railways operated this line, which meant that, once built, this Railway linked the Cambrian system at Oswestry and the ex Potteries Railway at Blodwell via a direct route through Llynclys and Porthywaen junctions.

On the 1st January 1923, all Railways across Britain were grouped into 4 large companies and the Cambrian Railways became part of the Great Western Railway. The most tangible sign of this occurred in 1924 when improvements were made to the Cambrian Railways station allowing the GWR station to be closed and converted to a goods shed. This meant that, finally, passengers had the benefit of just one station in the town.

The one final change of ownership occurred on the 1st January 1948, when the rail system in the UK was nationalised, and the former GWR system became British Railways Western Region.

Closures

During the 1950’s the Tanat Valley Light Railway was progressively closed, except for the stone traffic from Blodwell. On the 18th January 1965, the mainline from Buttington (the junction with the Cambrian ”branch” from Shrewsbury) to Whitchurch was closed, together with Oswestry Motive Power Depot. Finally, on the 7th November 1966, passenger services were ended with the closure of the Gobowen to Oswestry Branch.

However, that section of line from the mainline at Gobowen was kept open for stone traffic from Blodwell, until 1988, when the line was officially ‘mothballed’.

The final British Rail train, a weed killing train, ran in 1993, although the northern few hundred yards, at Gobowen, are still used daily by English, Welsh and Scottish (EWS) freight trains.

Oswestry

In its own way, Oswestry was the Crewe or Swindon of Shropshire. In 1866, following the creation of the Cambrian Railways, Oswestry was selected as its headquarters. The company’s boardroom was on the first floor of the magnificent Italianate style Station building, situated on the up platform, and a Workshop for the maintenance of locomotives and rolling stock was constructed

 

Oswestry Station Building - August 2004

A Motive Power Depot was created between the mainline and the Gobowen branch. This depot becoming the largest on the Cambrian system. A cast iron footbridge was constructed (still in existence, though out of use) between the works building and the town, spanning the dozen or so tracks at this point.

Oswestry Works, complete with cast-iron footbridge - August 2004

The new prosperity was reflected in the population of Oswestry, which rose from 5,400 in 1861 to 7,300 in 1871, to 9,500 in 1901.