Telford’s Extension
First Train to Lawley Village
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© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2015
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
4 April 2015
When British Railways ran passenger trains over this line, there wasn’t a station, or a halt, at Lawley Village. Half a mile or so to the north was Lawley Bank, and a similar distance to the south, the other side of the short tunnel, was Horsehay and Dawley. The service in question ran from Wellington, via Buildwas Junction to Much Wenlock and Craven Arms. The passenger service south of Wenlock finished at the end of 1951; Wellington to Wenlock ended on 21 July 1962. South of the tunnel, the line remained in situ to serve the works at Horsehay - large steel fabrications for bridges and cranes were taken out by rail, via Lightmoor Junction and the line serving Ironbridge power station. By the time the line finally closed, in 1979, the preservationists were in residence at the old loco shed - the Telford Horsehay Steam Trust, proud keepers of former GWR 0-6-2T no. 5619. Now the Telford Steam Railway, they have been operating a passenger service since 1981. The journey from Spring Village platform to Horsehay and Dawley station involved running north from the former goods yard, onto the main line and up towards the tunnel, then reversing to run down the steep gradient into the station. It’s much quicker to walk between the two termini! The railway has ambitions - the big plan is to run south to Lightmoor Junction, then down through Coalbrookdale. The power station is due to close at the end of this year, so the line could then be available. One significant obstacle is the Ironbridge bypass, which severs the trackbed.
The railway owns a suitable bridge - but much work will be needed, and a great deal of money, to fix it in place and relay the track. In the meantime, a lesser scheme involved clearing a great deal of mud and spoil from the northern end of the tunnel, relaying track and constructing a platform - a more appropriate point at which to reverse on that otherwise short run. Today that ambition was realised, when the first trains called at Lawley Village. The occasion deserved recording. I should have done a recce first - there’s no access to the new platform other than by train, and to get to a suitable point for photos involved much mud and mire. I was already running late when I got there (blame the ever-increasing hoardes of temporary traffic lights) - I saw the first train arrive (members only), but couldn’t get a photo before it had halted and the first passengers descended. For an arrival, I’d have to await that train’s return - which would be the first train from Horsehay and Dawley station to the new platform. Curiously, that event was marked by the arrival of an empty train - the members presumably choosing to make the most of their celebratory “light refreshments” (and they could always walk back). I’d somehow imagined that this momentous occasion would be marked by a steam-hauled (or propelled) train - so the appearance of the two- car DMU was perhaps a little disappointing. I think I’ll take my first ride to Lawley Village when steam is operating (a Rocket-powered train?) Link: Telford Steam Railway
The first train has arrived... Lawley Village platform First train from Lawley Village... ...heads for the tunnel... the direction of Horsehay and Dawley First train from Horsehay and Dawley... ...arrives at Lawley Village - empty! Ready for departure