Monthly Archives: Aug 2019

New Archbishop for the Province of Uganda

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba elected 9th Archbishop

Archbishop-Elect Kaziimba [8]

With the retirement of Archbishop Stanley Ntagali on 1st March 2020, the Bishops of Uganda have elected his successor, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba. The election took place on 28th August 2019. We look forward to seeing  the direction that the Archbishop-elect will lead his Province in coming years.

Bishop Edison Irigei, Dean of the Church of Uganda, said, “We thank God for His clear voice and direction among us for who shall be our next leader. We also ask all Christians to pray for this season of transition, especially for the Archbishop and Archbishop-elect who are bidding farewell in their dioceses, and for the Archbishop-elect to be prepared to receive the mantle of spiritual authority as Archbishop.” [1]

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba has served as the Bishop of Mityana Diocese for almost eleven years. “In addition to his responsibilities as a diocesan Bishop, Bishop Kaziimba also currently serves as the Chairman of the Provincial Board of Household and Community Transformation, as well as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Ndejje University, Chair of the Committee for HIV and Public Health for the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, and Chair of Words of Hope Uganda Radio Ministry.” [1]

Perhaps his most famous predecessor, the 3rd Archbishop Janani Luwum (1974 – 1977), served as Archbishop during the political tenure of Idi Amin. He was martyred in 1977 for standing up against the misrule of Uganda by Idi Amin.

Archbishop Janani Luwum [9]

In 1977, Archbishop Luwum delivered a note of protest to dictator Idi Amin against the policies of arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearances. Shortly afterwards the archbishop and other leading churchmen were accused of treason.

Wikipedia says that: [7]

On 16 February 1977, Luwum was arrested together with two cabinet ministers. The same day Idi Amin convened a rally in Kampala with the three accused present. A few other “suspects” were paraded forth to read out “confessions” implicating the three men. The archbishop was accused of being an agent of the exiled former president Milton Obote, and for planning to stage a coup. The next day, Radio Uganda announced that the three had been killed when the car transporting them to an interrogation centre had collided with another vehicle. The accident, Radio Uganda reported, had occurred when the victims had tried to overpower the driver in an attempt to escape. [2] However, when Luwum’s body was released to his relatives, it was riddled with bullets. Henry Kyemba, minister of health in Amin’s government, later wrote in his book A State of Blood, that “The bodies were bullet-riddled. The archbishop had been shot through the mouth and at least three bullets in the chest. The ministers had been shot in a similar way but one only in the chest and not through the mouth. Oryema had a bullet wound through the leg.” [3]

According to the later testimony of witnesses, the victims had been taken to an army barracks, where they were bullied, beaten and finally shot. Time magazine said, “Some reports even had it that Amin himself had pulled the trigger, but Amin angrily denied the charge, and there were no first-hand witnesses.” [4] According to Vice President of Uganda Mustafa Adrisi [5] and a Human rights commission, Amin’s right-hand man Isaac Maliyamungu carried out the murder of Luwum and his colleagues. [6]

Janani Luwum is recognised as a martyr by the Church of England and the Anglican Communion and his death is commemorated on 17 February as a Lesser Festival. His statue is among the Twentieth Century Martyrs on the front of Westminster Abbey in London. [7]


  1., accessed on 31st August 2019.
  2.  “Death of an Archbishop”Time Magazine, 28 February 1977 
  3.  A state of blood: The inside story of Idi Amin (1977) Henry Kyemba 
  4.   Amin:The Wild Man of AfricaTime Magazine, 7 March 1977
  5. Moses Walubiri; Richard Drasimaku (14 May 2014). “Mustafa Adrisi: Life during and after exile”New Vision. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  6. Watuwa Timbiti (12 February 2015). “Luwum murder: What witnesses said”New Vision. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  7., accessed on 31st August 2019.
  8., accessed on 31st August 2019.
  9., accessed on 31st August 2019.

The Fourth Mark of Mission – 25th August 2019 (Isaiah 61:1-9; James 2:1-26; Luke 6:20-26)

This is the fifth Sunday in our series about the five Marks of Mission. … Just to remind ourselves once again, these are the 5 Marks of Mission espoused by the Church of England:

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.
  2. To teach, baptise and nurture believers.
  3. To respond to human need by loving service.
  4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

We have not been able to follow them in order. We started with the first but then jumped to the third and then the fifth. Returning first to the second mark of mission, we are now going to consider the fourth Mark of Mission. Over recent weeks, we have heard how interdependent these Marks are, we cannot pick and choose between them. Together they describe God’s Mission in our world and we are called to see what God is doing and to join in.

The fourth mark is: To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.

Luke 6: 20-26 contain Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are a part of Jesus Sermon on the Mount (or on the plain). I have paired up the blessings and woes below:

Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said:

‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.

‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.

‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

These beatitudes in Luke are so different from those in Matthew. Matthew separates his blessings and woes by a few chapters. And his message seems spiritual rather than physical. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.”

We might ask ourselves questions like: Why do we have two versions of the Sermon in our Gospels? Which is the right one? Surely they cannot both be correct?

Indeed, it is likely that the Luke passage is the earlier of the two. It is more likely that Jesus words have been expanded by Matthew to emphasise their spiritual meaning, rather than contracted by Luke to focus on the physical meaning.

What is most important for us, is that we have both. They speak to each other and they remind us that we cannot just listen to one without the other. The fact that they both exist reminds us that Luke meant what he wrote. He was not being essentially spiritual but speaking about our world and our values.

When Luke says: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” … He means it. He paints a picture of God’s ‘upside down’ world in which the poor and hungry are exalted over the rich and powerful.

The question he expects us to ask is: Where am I in these different pairs? Am I hungry or poor. Am I one who mourns and weeps. Am I someone who is persecuted. Or am I actually rich, filled, happy and thought well of?

Who am I?

It can be easy to think we know what words like ‘poor’, ‘hungry’ and ‘rich’ mean. Likewise it can sometimes seem clear who is the victim and who is the persecutor. But it is rarely this simple. What one person calls a terrorist, another calls a freedom fighter.

What does this tell us about drawing conclusions, and how might we become better informed regarding conflict situations? Or even about the realities experienced by many in our own country.

Are they wastrels? Or are they downtrodden? Do they play the system? Or are they overwhelmed by the system and unable to change their circumstances for the better?

Society has always worked on these kinds of polarities. In UK history, the poor usually received the great judgement. White collar crime, such as embezzlement or fraud of significant sums of money, attracted punishment but was usually seen as excusable. Worthy of punishment, yes. But easily put behind you and of little ultimate significance as you pursued your next, perhaps shady, business opportunity. However, the theft of a bag of potatoes because your family was starving resulted in a harsh prison sentence or transportation to the colonies.Convicts transported to Australia at work outside Sydney 1843. [1]

Are we the poor, or are we the rich? I guess it depends on our perspective.

For the majority of our world, all of us here today are rich. Yet in our society are those who are really poor. People who have, for whatever reason, found themselves as outsiders. The numbers are increasing, the need is increasing, even here in our own town. And we have people of courage who are prepared to work for change. Pauline Town’s work with “We Shall Overcome”, [4] Greystones, [5] Infinity Initiatives, [6] Emmaus. [7] All of these have a prophetic witness. They have recognised that our society has failed significant numbers of people. They seek to do something about this reality.

What might Luke’s Beatitudes teach us about our mission priorities?

We are focussing on the 4th Mark of Mission. It calls on us to “Transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.”

As just one example, let’s stay with our own town.

Try to imagine yourself now living the life of someone who has, for whatever reason, found themselves on the street here in Ashton-under-Lyne, with no money, no credit cards and no friends to turn to.

What does it feel like in the first few days? Do you still have a sense of hope that things will change?

How does it feel after a couple of months with no income, no friends, and no roof over your head? ………….

Someone kindly helps you to attend the Housing Advice Centre on Old Street [3] and finds a way to get you some food through a Food Bank. Do you feel grateful? Or do you feel an overwhelming sense of shame?

When you find yourself in dormitory accommodation under the “A Bed for a Night Scheme.” Do you feel grateful or scared about those you will be sharing with?

These are the realities for a good number of people each day in Tameside. [2]

What should the church’s response be? ………….. What about action? What could we do?

What could be changed – locally or nationally – to transform the issue?

What about campaigning for change? What about Universal Credit? Is it good or bad? Are there ways to change its implementation that might help? …………………. What is the role of the church in politics (with a small ‘p’)?

Matters of justice – whether justice for children, women, animals, refugees – can provoke strong emotions. What comes up for you when you consider the idea of tackling injustice? How could the church support you in this?

What could we do this year to make a change? What organisations could we work with?

And a final question before I go on the make a few short comments:

Looking at the last beatitude in Luke: What is the difference between anger and hate? How can we help ensure that our ‘fire’ or ‘passion’ is an asset rather than a hindrance in a quest for justice? How can anger at injustice be directed towards real change so that it does not develop into bitterness and hatred but makes a real difference?

So what to do?

First of all, lets talk about these things over coffee today. Is there a challenge we need to take up locally? If not the one I have suggested, are there other injustices that we should address?

Our shared giving is one way in which we make a difference. Our Church Wardens have agreed that homelessness should be the theme of our Harvest in October this year. And while our tins and produce will go the places agreed by each of our churches, our monetary giving will be shared by “We Shall Overcome” and “Infinity Initiatives.” Might you be able to give sacrificially at Harvest this year?

Lets believe too that when we work together with others we can make a real difference. I like the adjacent picture. We might feel small but we can have a big impact. We need to believe in what God can do through us.

What about the many other organisations fighting for justice across many areas of need in our borough. We have already mentioned a number. I had been hoping that Action Together would be here today but it is the bank holiday weekend and that has proved impossible. At the moment I have an impact on our behalf in that organisation. I Chair the Board of Action Together and on your behalf, I work with others to bring about change through a dedicated group of staff who seek to allocate grants, work for political change and address specific needs. What more should I or we do?

What about other faith communities? I recently attended an event at Central Mosque which was raising money for Water Aid in specific communities in the developing world. There are others around us who see charitable giving as an essential part of the outworking of their own faith. How can we work together with them? I Chair Faiths United in Tameside and we recently held a conference to address loneliness. We plan others about homelessness and possibly too about asylum seekers. I do this on your behalf as part of our mission in this place. What else might I do? What more should we do?

We need to take all aspects of God’s mission seriously and we need to remember that this 4th Mark of Mission is one of five. All are important, all interrelated. ……

We are all called to:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

To teach, baptise and nurture believers

To respond to human need by loving service

To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation

To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth


God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. The courage to change the things we can. And the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebhur



  1., accessed on 29th August 2019.
  2., accessed on 25th August 2019.
  3., accessed on 29th August 2019.
  4., accessed on 24th August 2019.
  5., accessed on 29th August 2019.
  6., accessed on 29th August 2019.
  7., accessed on 29th August 2019.



The Second Mark of Mission – 18th August 2019

This is the fourth Sunday in our series about the five Marks of Mission. … Just to remind ourselves once again, these are the 5 Marks of Mission espoused by the Church of England:

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.
  2. To teach, baptise and nurture believers.
  3. To respond to human need by loving service.
  4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

We have not been able to follow them in order. We started with the first but then jumped to the third and then the fifth. We are now going back to fill in the second and the fourth Marks of Mission. Over recent weeks, we have heard how interdependent these Marks are, we cannot pick and choose between them. Together they describe God’s Mission in our world and we are called to see what God is doing and to join in.

The second mark is: To teach, baptise and nurture believers.

Our call is to be a learning community. We are called to be people who continue to learn and grow throughout their journey as followers of Jesus. To be so, we need teachers. The call to be a teacher is not just for the clergy. We need many people who are able to lead discussion groups, able to preach, able to nurture new believers. It is possible that you might be being called to be such a teacher in God’s Church. If so, what are the qualifications? …………….

I guess that the first thing I want to know about someone who is going to teach me, is whether I can trust them. What is it that makes someone a good teacher? What should we expect from those who teach us?

Recently, I have been on retreat, reading various parts of the Bible.  I’d like us to think about a few of those passages this morning.

  1. James 3
  2. Jeremiah 31
  3. Isaiah 50 and Psalm 45
  4. Proverbs 8

1. James 3 

Firstly, listen to what James says in Chapter 3 of his epistle. …..

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes.

He goes on to talk about the kind of wisdom that a teacher should show:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

The call of a teacher is not to be strident or contentious. A teacher who does God’s work will be one who brings peace, who is gentle, willing to yield, full of goodness. Someone who is inclusive, someone who draws people together in faith rather than someone who is dogmatic and divisive. That is the first test of a teacher of the Christian faith.

2. Jeremiah 31

Secondly, let’s listen to Jeremiah. ……………..

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

It might seem at first as though Jeremiah is saying that God’s plan is that we should all go our own way, just listen to the inner voice of our conscience and everything will be wonderful. And Jeremiah is in the wider passage talking about taking individual responsibility for our lives. He is also talking about the rebuilding of community.

I wonder whether your experience of school was a little like my experience of learning Latin or my times tables. In each case I had to be able to sing out what I had learnt in a form of chant. Do you remember? ………………………..

Education was primarily about learning facts. Which is very important. However, very little effort went into giving me the skills to think for myself. Very little was done to help me evaluate what I was being told. I suppose I picked up a few of those skills in some of my science subjects but they were still primarily about learning facts. What I most needed as part of my education was to be helped to develop learning skills that would mean that as I grew older I would be able to check evidence for myself and make good decisions. I think that is what Jeremiah is talking about. Our faith is not to be based on what we learn by rote, nor just one what we are told, we have our own faith and our own responsibility to learn and be disciples of Jesus. So Jeremiah says on God’s behalf: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord.

What does a Church teacher look like in these circumstances? What role do they have? ………….

I think that, while there are some important facts to learn and there needs to be a shared understanding of faith, effective teachers of the gospel will be facilitators rather than autocrats. They will learn, themselves, how to draw truth out from those they teach and they will help us learners to learn from each other what God has for us in Scripture. Learning will be inclusive and exciting, it will build our understanding rather than just our knowledge. It will take seriously those words of God spoken through Jeremiah: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

So a teacher will show great humility and draw people together in faith and they will respect those they teach. What else will be true of them?

3. Isaiah 50 and Psalm 45

One of our well-known phrases about knowledge is that ‘knowledge is power’. Let’s listen to what Isaiah has to say about this – just one verse this time from Isaiah 50 v 4:

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens — wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.

The best teachers are those who themselves are willing to learn. The best teachers believe that we need to go on learning as disciples of Jesus. The best teachers expect that God will challenge and change them  as they pursue their own journey of faith. Good teachers don’t sparingly share their knowledge but willingly share with others – seeking to bring hope to the weary. There is a similar short passage in Psalm 45 v 1:

And that verse gives rise to the song that we sang as our gradual hymn and its chorus:

My tongue will be the pen of a ready writer,
And what the Father gives to me I’ll sing;
I only want to be His breath,
I only want to glorify the King.

The best teachers continue to learn, and “only want to glorify the King.”

So a teacher will show great humility and draw people together in faith and they will respect those they teach. A teacher will be someone who is always ready to learn. ……….

4. Proverbs 8

And one more thing. …… For this we turn to the book of Proverbs, which has a lot to say about Wisdom. The wise one, the teacher is set alongside God in God’s work in the world. In Chapter 8 v 1-4 we read these words:

Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? 
On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
‘To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. 

The wise one, the teacher, will share their wisdom not just in the safe confines of the home nor in the church. God’s wisdom is for the public space. God’s wisdom applies to all things which we, as God’s people, encounter. “The heights” refers to places of worship which were always found on the high points in Israel. But wisdom speaks elsewhere as well. “Beside the way” and “at the crossroads” – on the journey and at the place of decision, God’s wisdom will guide us. “The gates in front of the town” were the place of decision and judgement in the public sphere. The leaders of the people gathered at the town gates to make decision s and to dispense justice for the community.

Teachers of God’s wisdom are called to inhabit those spaces, to be community leaders and to bring the wisdom of God to bear on the matters of civil society. Our faith is not just for the private sphere.

So, we have four important things to bear in mind if we think God might be calling us to be a teacher. ……

  1. A teacher will show humility and draw people together in faith.
  2. A teacher will respect those they teach and listen to them as they learn.
  3. A teacher will be someone who is always ready to learn themselves.
  4. A teacher will have courage and will speak in the secular and public sphere and will help us to apply our faith in the world.

Do you think God might be calling you to be a teacher? I hope so. We sure need people of integrity who will help us to grow in faith and take a place of leadership in the world.


The 5 Marks of Mission

Over the Summer in 2019, the Parish of the Good Shepherd has been thinking together in Sunday services about the Anglican Communion’s 5 Marks of Mission. [1] The Church believes that we have an important role to play as part of God’s Mission in the world. The church is to be a signpost to the reality of God’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom Values. We are:

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. To teach, baptise and nurture believers
  3. To respond to human need by loving service
  4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

The five marks of mission were first developed by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1984. Since then, they have been widely adopted as an understanding of what contemporary mission is about.  The marks were adopted by the General Synod of the Church of  England in 1996 and many dioceses and other denominations used  them as the basis of action plans and creative mission ideas.

Some churches abbreviate the five marks to five words: TELL – TEACH – TEND – TRANSFORM – TREASURE. [2]

These Marks underlie much of what the Parish of the Good Shepherd has been doing over the last 10 years and we felt that, this Summer, it would be good to be explicit about them. Our work at Holy Trinity Church and Community Centre in a predominantly Muslim area of the town of Ashton-under-Lyne has sought to place a high priority on the last three of the Marks of Mission. Elsewhere in our parish we have given priority to all 5 of these Marks of Mission.

In subsequent posts, I hope to allow these 5 Marks of Mission to speak into our circumstances in Ashton-under-Lyne.


  1., accessed on 29th August 2019.
  2., accessed on 18th August 2019.

Ligne de Central Var – Part 13a – Sillans la Cascade to Barjols (Chemins de Fer de Provence 85)

Sillans la Cascade to Barjols

I have been preparing a book about the Central Var line and in doing so have recognised that my original post about this length of the line carries some significant omissions, particularly in relation to Rognette and two mines in close proximity to it. I have reviewed the original post to include details of these mines and to improve referencing of pictures.

We got off our train to Meyraragues to have a look round Sillans and its environs.The town is known for its waterfall which is just to the Southeast of the town. ….


  1., accessed on 19th August 2019.
  2., accessed on 19th August 2019.
  3., accessed on 18th August 2019.
  4., accessed on 19th December 2019.
  5. © J.F. Mc Cameron, accessed on 9th December 2017
  6., accessed on 9th December 2017
  7., accessed on 1st May 2018.
  8., accessed on 1st December 2018.
  9., accessed on 17th August 2019.
  10., accessed on 9th December 2017.
  11., accessed on 9th December 2017.
  12., accessed on 9th December 2017.
  13. © J.F. Mc Cameron, accessed on 9th December 2017.
  14. Jose Banaudo; Le Siecle du Train de Pignes; Les Editions du Cabri, Briel-sur-Roya 1991.
  15., accessed on 17th August 2019.
  16., accessed on 17th August 2019.
  17., adapted from an IGN aerial image of 1949 and further altered to show modern road alignments, accessed on 17th August 2019.
  18., accessed on 18th August 2019.
  19. Ibid.
  20., accessed on 17th August 2019.
  21. Ibid.
  22. © J.F. Mc Cameron, accessed on 19th August 2019.
  23., accessed on 16th August 2019.
  24. I am unable to provide a direct reference for this plan but suspect that it comes from Jose Banaudo; Le Siecle du Train de Pignes; Les Editions du Cabri, Briel-sur-Roya 1991.
  25., accessed on 9th December 2017.
  26., accessed on 19th August 2019.
  27.,  © J.F. Mc Cameron, accessed on 19th August 2019.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid.

Skelton Junction

I still have a number of older railway magazines to read through. The pile still seems to be growing!

The November 2003 issue of Steam Days has an epic article about Skelton Junction. [1] Skelton Junction is in Broadheath which is just North of Altrincham. I picked up my copy of magazine in August (2019).

Broadheath was my home for the first five and a half years of my life. I can remember the railway at the bottom of the garden and also vaguely remember my grandparents waving to me from their train as I stood in the back garden of our home – 112, Lindsell Road, Broadheath, Altrincham.

The featured image for this post is taken from RailMapOnline. It shows the immediate area to the North of Altrincham. [2] The same website shows, below, the distance of our home from Skelton Junction. [2] … Not that close, but enough to provoke my interest as I read the article.No. 112 Lindsell Road in the early 21st Century (Google Streetview).No. 112 Lindsell Road in the early 21st Century (Google Earth) the disused West Timperley to Glazebrook line is visible to the top right of the satellite image.

Skelton Junction is actually a complex of railway junctions to the south of Manchester in Timperley/Broadheath. Both the Cheshire Lines Committee’s Liverpool to Manchester line, via the Glazebrook East Junction to Skelton Junction Line and the LNWR’s Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway arrived at the junction from Liverpool in the west. The Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway connected Manchester with  Altrincham. The CLC’s Stockport, Timperley and Altrincham Junction Railway continued east to Stockport. [3]Skelton Junction in 1909. [1: p689]

Railways arrived in the vicinity in 1849. An Act of 21 July 1845 had incorporated ‘The Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway’ (MSJ&AR). It opened for traffic on 28th May 1849. I was interested to note that the development of the railway sysytem in this area can be linked back to shared decisions in which The Sheffield, Ashon-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway was involved!

This “line sprang from a desire by the Manchester & Birmingham and the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester railways to reach Liverpool. Thus was taken on board by the two companies the so-called South Junction Railway — a line about one mile long from Oxford Road in Manchester to a junction with the Liverpool & Manchester Railway at Ordsall Lane in Salford, immediately west of Liverpool Road station. Given the line’s original concept, the branch west to Altrincham was an afterthought. This new railway would parallel the Bridgewater Canal for much of its course, and inevitably become a competitor for its traffic. Eight miles long, the MSJ&AR could be fairly said to have created many of the suburbs through which it travelled.” [1: p687]

All of the suburbs between Altrincham and South Manchester did not exist before the building of the line – Old Trafford, Stretford, Sale, Brooklands, Timperley. They all only became viable as dormitory areas when public transport became adequate to convey the middle classes into Manchester. The building of this line also acted as a catalyst for the construction of further lines. many of these lines came early in railway development across the country:

  1. The line from Warrington to Timperley (1854) which was extended to Stockport (1865)
  2. The extension of the Altirncham line to Knutsford (1862) and on to Chester (1874).
  3. A line through West Timperley and on via Glazebrook to Liverpool (1873).

“Broadheath, whose only transport focus was once the Bridgewater Canal, would see a myriad of industrial development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. … The Earl of Stamford, the major landowner in the area, was careful to restrict development in the main to the north bank of the Bridgewater Canal.” [1: p689]

“John Skelton sold some of his … land to the Stockport, Timperley and Altrincham Railway Company in the 1860s to build a link line between Stockport and Warrington, and his name is preserved in Skelton Junction.” [9]

An OS Map extract showing Skelton Junction and Broadheath in 1898. There is no sign of Lindsell Road at this time. [4]

West Timperley Station was about 3/4 mile to the West of Skelton Junction, just off to the Northwest of the map above. It was on the Cheshire Lines Railways’ (CLC) Glazebrook to Stockport Tiviot Dale Line. The length of the line through the station opened to goods from Cressington Junction to Skelton Junction in 1873 with passenger workings beginning later in the same year. The line gave the CLC their own route to Liverpool. Previously they had had to operate over LNWR metals between Skelton Junction and Garston.

Paul Wright, writing on the Disused Stations Website says:

“Partington (and by inference, West Timperley) was served by local trains running between Stockport Tiviot Dale and Liverpool Central with some short workings going only as far as Warrington Central. Express services to London St. Pancreas and other destinations along with a steady stream of goods workings passed through the station.

Situated on an embankment [West Timperley] station had two platforms which linked to the road by slopes. Booking and waiting facilities where located on the platforms with the main facilities on the Stockport platform.

The station remained part of the Cheshire Lines Railway until 1948 when it became part of British Railways London Midland Region. The station closed to passenger services on 30.11.1964. Regular passenger trains continued to pass through the station site until 1966 when Liverpool Central closed to long distance services. The line remained a busy route for goods services until 1984 when the bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal at Cadishead closed. The line was cut back to Partington and singled. Goods services operated along this section of line until the 10th October 1993. Today [2006] the platforms at West Timperley are still extant and the single line remains in situ.” [5]

West Timperley would possibly have been the station my grandparents used when they came to visit!

There is discussion of Skelton Junction and surrounding lines on a number of threads on [6][7][8]


  1. Eddie Johnson; Skelton Junction, Its Traffic and Environs; in Steam Days, Red Gauntlet, Bournemouth, November 2003, p687-702. This article is excellent. Copyright restrictions prevent me copying it as an appendix to this post.
  2., accessed on 12th August 2019.
  3., accessed on 14th August 2019.
  4., accessed on 14th August 2019.
  5., accessed on 15th August 2019.
  6., accessed on 15th August 2019
  7. accessed on 19th August 2019.
  9., accessed on 19th August 2019.

The Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Light Railway and the Nesscliffe MoD Training Area and Depot – Part 2

On the outbreak of war in 1939 the S&MLR received a letter dated 1st September “informing it that under the Defence of the Realm, Defence Regulations 1939, the railway was now under government control. It was the last of 11 in a list of railways affected. The only other light railways were the Kent Light Railway and the Kent & East Sussex Light Railway, two other lines once run by Stephens, and probably selected because of their strategic significance.” [1: p79]

Criggion provided a significant source of income. The building of the East Lancs road provided a major outlet for roadstone. However, with the Depression and consequent crash in mineral traffic after the East Lancs road contract had been completed, income for the S&MLR dried up. “Passenger traffic had long become uneconomic and even the bank holiday specials had been abandoned in 1936. Agricultural traffic was thin and the line survived on residual quarry traffic and substantial local traffic in Shrewsbury to the Anglo-American Oil Company’s depot established at Abbey station in June 1934.” [2]

A reconnaissance of the railway was undertaken by the military which found the S&MLR to be in a poor state,” with sleepers rotting and bridges devoid of decking. The track consisted in part of 82.5lb per yard bullhead rail, but there were some lengths of 60lb rail laid in 1922. Approximately 25% of the sleepers needed renewing. The axle loading on the line was as low as 11 tons.” [15: p27]

“Nothing could cover up the terminal nature of the enterprise, which could only be rescued by a massive upturn in the Criggion roadstone traffic. The latter months of 1939, like everywhere in these early months of the war, were fairly normal and the only intrusion of the war was the use of the waiting room at Abbey Station for ARP meetings for 1 hour every evening.” [2]

“By the end of 1939 the S&MLR owed £16,439 offset by less than £2,000 of realisable current assets. The remainder on the so-called credit side of the balance sheet £9,756 of capital expenditure paid from revenue and £4,929 of accumulated losses. Of the five locomotives owned by the railway, only one, No. 2, the former No. 8108, was in use; the S&MLR was really in a poor state.” [1: p79][cf.15: p33]Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Light Railway No. 2 was the only operating steam locomotive on the Railway at the time it was commandeered by the military. [1: p88]LNWR Collier No 2 at Kinnerley. No. 2 was the last loco repainted by the S&MLR before the military takeover. It is resplendent in sage green, (c) David Giddins. [14]

“Government control allowed the line to continue at a guaranteed return of £1 profit but there were continuing concerns about paying for the maintenance backlog which this arrangement did nothing to alter. This factor raised doubts in the Ministry of War Transport about the continuance off government control and decontrol was actively discussed in February 1940.” [2]

This discussion eventually resulted in the terms of the arrangement being confirmed on the basis of the actual performance of the line in 1935-1937, which was poor, and the £1/annum payment being confirmed. Maintenance, including renewals was capped at £900. No provision was made for debenture interest. “Clearly being under government control was not going to be of much benefit to the railway.” [1: p94]

The Colonel Stephens Society website says: “With the outbreak of war the S&MLR was seen … as a railway that was important to the nation and was accordingly taken into government control, although formal terms were not agreed till April/May 1940. Delays arose not only through bureaucracy but concerns about the Railways finances and the Directors misgivings about the indirect control relationship arising from a decision to deal with smaller companies through the majors; in the S&MLR case the old enemy, the GWR. This was causing continuing tension on major issues, but in the short term, … it continued to be managed and run as before.” [2]

“During the 1930s, there was a recognition of a need to provide secure storage for munitions within the United Kingdom. The proposal was to create three Central Ammunition Depots (CADs) in easily-hewn and relatively horizontal rocks: one in the south (Monkton Farleigh); one in the north of England (Longtown, Cumbria); and one in the Midlands. While Monkton Farleigh came into operations in 1939, CAD Nesscliffe was only opened by the War Office in 1941. In order to service the extensive property, the War Office took over the virtually defunct Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway and built extensive additional service tracks along the 8¾ miles of railway line from Maesbrook to the former Ford and Crossgate railway station.” [3]

Peter Johnson says: “The war gave the S&MLR a new lease of life, but not straight away. Until January 1941, things carried on much as they had done before. The winter of 1939/40 was, however, extremely severe and played a cruel trick on the railway.” [1: p94]

January 1940 brought disaster to the S&MLR: Ice flows in the river Severn attacked the Achilles heel of the line, Melverley Bridge, which was so damaged on the 27th January that all Criggion branch traffic ceased. [2]

The quarry was severely hit and only managed to divert a part of its potential output by road to Four Crosses station. The S&MR could not afford the required repairs to Melverley Bridge. Although of little consequence to the nation, the Quarry had a Director with influence,  “Sir Henry Maybury former Director-General of Roads, Ministry of Transport 1919-1928, and a pioneer of the arterial road network. He used his contacts to press the Ministry of Transport to safeguard the bridge and get it repaired and also to get the GWR to operate the Llanymynech-Criggion section.” [2]

“Matters dragged on and the financial situation of the S&MLR was so severe that they decided that their resources had to be concentrated on those parts of the line which might be made to pay. The Kinnerley to Moele Brace section was to be closed and arrangements made for the remaining lines to be worked by the GWR. In the light of this decision and Ministry pressure, the REC (Railway Executive Committee) approved financial arrangements to repair Melverley Bridge and these were confirmed in discussions over the June to September 1940 period.” [4]

The Colonel Stephens Society says that had this been a time of peace the decision would have been implemented immediately, “but others held the ultimate destiny of the line in their hands, for the War Department announced in October that they wanted the mainline of the S&MLR for storing munitions.” [4]

The depot(s) to be constructed would replace other planned facilities “at Wem and Nantwich and be capable of accommodating 50,000 tons of ammunition; 50 ammunition sheds would be required, not less than 200 yards apart.” [1: p94]

The War Department “began to take over the main line, but not the branch, in late 1940 and in a meeting on Christmas Eve 1940 between the Ministry and the War Office it was revealed that the military were about to remove some girders [from Melverley Bridge]. Indeed they had already removed some but the work was stopped. However these changes and lack of materials and other resources delayed the bridge work further. It was not until 8 May 1941 that reconstruction commenced under the supervision of the GWR. These repairs involved more work than originally envisaged and ultimately cost £5,700, with a further £2,350 of repairs to the track of the branch itself. The bridge was not reopened until 27 October 1941, and crucially, the GWR’s contractors had, through accident or design, only rebuilt it for an axle load of 9 tons. Moreover, it appeared later that they had done a poor job that would not endure. So now the S&MLR did not, following the loss of the last Ilfracombe goods Hesperus in 1941, have a light enough locomotive to work the reconnected line. Although they tried to obtain a small locomotive for the work ,they did not succeed.” [4]This drawing shows “Hesperus” as bought in 1910 which was light enough to serve on the branch-line and to cross Melverley Bridge. It was lost to the line in 1941. [5]

Initially, as we have noted, the War Department’s plan was to take over the S&MLR but not the Criggion Branch. It identified an area between Shrawardine and Nesscliffe for an amuntion depot.  [1: p95] However, the War Department (WD) eventually agreed to work the branch line. The decision was confirmed in May 1942, and small locomotives that came to be used by the WD, such as a Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST, could have been used on the whole branch. The records show that the WD worked the Branch as far as the Bridge until 7th May 1947, including both quarry and other goods traffic, which had increased, particularly with the construction of a BBC transmitting station near the branch.  Workings were not however on a daily basis but appear to be about every other day, unless quarry traffic was heavy. The quarry’s Sentinel worked the branch beyond Melverley Bridge. [4] The GWR had placed a 9 ton axle limit on the Melverley Bridge. [1: p99]

The WD, in the form of No. 1 Railway Group, Royal Engineers, formally accepted control of the S&MLR mainline and a number of S&MLR employees on 1st June 1941. [1: p99][cf., 15: p37] Prior to that, McAlpines had been engaged to undertake both the repair of the S&MLR and the construction of the depots. The work of the civilian contractors continued after the formal handover. “Sir A. McAlpine personally attended a progress meeting on 30th January 1942. He made it clear that for a project of this nature he would have wanted roads to give him ready access to the many shed (and other) construction sites for materials and men. Denied the use of roads (new roads are highly visible from the air and draw attention to the location of newly constructed targets), he considered that the contract required at least eight locomotives, six of them working at any one time. There were 525 PoWs working on construction, but some of the bricklayers had been idle for lack of a rail service.” [15: p45]An excerpt from an aerial photograph which was taken in 1948 and shows Ford Sub-depot and the nearby marshalling sidings. The picture makes it clear that the concern raised about roadways being highly visible from the air carries weight. By the time of the photograph these roads had been built for about 6 years and they are still highly visible, (c) MoD Ref. No. CPE/UK/1492 frame 4320. [15: p84]

The WD built extensive additional service tracks along the 8¾ miles of railway line from Maesbrook to the former Ford and Crossgate railway station.  Like a typical ammunition depot, the site was laid out over an extensive area to avoid total destruction should an accidental explosion occur, or the site be attacked by enemy. The depot was made up of five separate sites at : Kinnerley (SJ354192); Pentre (SJ374170); Ford (SJ408139); Argoed (SJ327217); Loton Park (SJ357137). [3] This meant that during construction access without roads was very difficult and McAlpine’s concerns are easily understood. CAD Nescliff Depot Map. [6]A GE trace showing the 80+ miles of rail-track laid and operated by the Royal Engineers to serve the multiple storage areas in and around Kinnerley and Nesscliffe. [7]

To ameliorate McAlpine’s concerns it was agreed to make every effort to ensure that ammunition traffic ran each day before the contractors work started. This would at least eliminate on specific conflict. [15: p45]

The first four sites were capable of storing around 55,000 tons of shells. Loton Park was used for storage of both incendiary ammunition and chemical weapons shells from 1943. This was one of only two Chemical Warfare depots operated in co-operation with and guarded by the United States Army Air Force, specifically 7th US Chemical Depot Company. Locomotives and train drivers were provided by the Royal Engineers, who also maintained the extensive network. Their main servicing depot for rolling stock was on the stub-junction of the former branch-line to Criggion. [3]

“The informal nature of the agreement under which the military took over the assets of the S&M was to cause endless problems, notably on the upkeep of land and buildings” [15: p38] and produced a series of disagreements with local businesses and land owners. [15: p38]

Ammunition traffic began to arrive from 12th January 1942. [15: p49] “At Pentre, sheds 31-44 and 65-76 were complete by 1st April 1942 and were receiving ammunition traffic. Shrawardine was under construction. Work was just starting at Ford and would not be completed before August. Nesscliff would not be ready before the end of the year and Kimberley would not be available until 1943.” [15: p50]

During the first three weeks of February 1942, 342 wagons of ammunition were received and 73 dispatched. The WD was also required to work the civilian traffic on the S&MLR. Stone traffic was the most significant civilian cargo, averaging over 20,000 tons/annum from November 1942 to October 1948. [15: p63]

Ammunition storage on site officially stopped in 1959 and the ammunition depot closed in 1961.

Ford Sub-depot.

The first site encountered on the journey West from Shrewsbury was next to the village of Ford.Ford Munitions Depot is visible in this OS extract to the West of the village of Ford. [8]The majority of the buildings used by the military are still in place in a relatively poor condition. [8]The site is now a poultry farm. [8]

Access to the site was from the West, with the tracks fanning out to serve the storage facilities. Ford Sub-depot had 10 sheds adjacent to the sorting/marshalling sidings, and one Road/Rail Transit (RRT) siding. “Unlike the other sheds in the Depot, those at Ford were not used for long term storage, but only for transfer storage. All were accessible by road and formed part of the facility that allowed for the transfer of ‘sensitive’ munitions to the open air storage in Loton Deer Park. … Loton Deer Park was used by American forces as a depot for chemical weapons.” [15: p88][16] Loton Park was at Alberbury to the West of Ford along what is now the B4393.The Chemical Weapons storage area at Loton Deer Park at Alberbury. Small sheds were laid out among the trees in the park (c) The Office of the Welsh Assembly Government (MoD Ref. No. CPE/UK/2492, frame 4315). [15: p90]A part of the Deer Park in the early 21st century showing the locations of storage facilities after their removal. (Google Earth).RailMap Online shows a simplified diagram of the sidings at the depot. Each store building was actually provided with its own access track [10][15: p84] and the marshalling yard which ran alongside the S&MLR is completely ignored. A diagrammatic representation of the depot and the marshalling yard, which was quite substantial, is shown here. [11]

Hansard in May 1960 contains a record of the planned sale of Ford Depot as the War Office had no further need for it. [9] The tracks serving the depot are long-gone. Loton Deer Park was returned to its owners once the need for it had gone.

Pentre/Shrawardine Sub-depot

A short distance to the Northwest of Ford the S&MLR crossed the River Severn at Shrawardine and almost immediately entered land sequestered by the War Office. Pentre/Shrawardine Sub-depot was much larger that the site at Ford. It consisted of two Districts. “The North Balloon Area included Camp Station, sheds 11 to 30 inclusive, and the civilain yard at Shrawardine. This District could be accessed in three places, at Nescliff East Block Post via the we leg of the triangle or via the East leg, and also at Shrawardine Station yard. It was permissible for more than one train to operate in the District, except in darkness when ‘One Engine in Steam’ only was allowed. … All points within the District were operated locally by handnlevers. … In addition to the normal traffic to sheds the North Balloon handled the daily Works Passenger trains to and from Camp Station.” [15: p93] On the satellite image below, Camp Station was located close to ‘Cakequirks’. Wilcot Camp was to the North of the Station and to the East of the location of the modern ‘Cakequirks’.The Pentre/Shrawardine Sub-depot was served by a significant network of sidings which were decided into Two Districts. Railmap Online has slightly simplified the track diagram as each storage building had its own rail access and there was a triangle at the West end of the site close to Nesscliff East Block Post. [10]

Wilcot Camp was the principal army camp at Nescliff CAD. Across the road from the Camp was the station which served it. To the South of the station was a single-line siding which was used to transfer from road to rail and vice-versa.An aerial image of Wilcot Camp which shows ‘Lonsdale’ Station to its South. Lonsdale Station was usually just know as ‘Camp’, © National Monuments Record of English Heritage (now Historic England, MoD No. 541/214 frame 3036. [15: p100]

Hansard in May 1960 records this Sub-depot as being named Shrawardine. It notes, at that date, that it was a former ammunition depot; mostly to be sold, but a small area to be kept for training. [9] Pentre was to the Northwest of the Sub-depot, Shrawardine to the South-East.This modern OS Map extract shows that most of the buildings of the original depot are still in place. [8]A closeup, above, of the Southeast of the site close to the River Severn. [8]

Adjacent is a sketch plan of the site showing all of the railsidings. Note that the North point is different on this sketch. The River Severn is shown on the right of the sketch. [11]The two buildings immediately adjacent to the 62m height-point on the OSMap above. The picture is taken from the road to the Southeast, © Peter Craine. [12]Every sketch map that I have found of the Pentre Sub-depot has its north point in a different pace! This is probably the best quality image on the internet bug also chooses an unusual North point. [13]

Google Earth is of little help in providing up-to-date images of the site as the vast majority of the depot was remote from the surrounding highways.

Kinnerley Sub-depot

The third complex of sidings was known as Kinnerley Sub-depot. It was formed of two almost separate loops of sidings – two Districts. These Districts cwere Kinnerley and Nescliff. Sheds 77 to 114 were in Nescliff District and sheds 115 to 140 were. In Kinnerley District. “The whole was worked as a single yard, with entrance cand exit at Kimberley (in an emergency also at Edgerley). Only one train was allowed to operate during darkness.” [15: p106]Kinnerley Sub-depot. [13]Again Railmap Online slightly simplifies the arrangement of railway tracks. [10]

Google Earth cannot help with modern images of the Nescliff District. There is more of the Kinnerley District that can easily be seen from the public roads. On the satellite image above, I have marked a number of locations and pictures at these locations are provided below:

A. There was a gated road-crossing at this location. The two pictures below show the view in each direction along the old MOD line from the road. Looking back along the line to the South, (Google Streetview).Looking North along the siding., (Google Streetview). A number of MOD buildigns can be picked out in this view, specifically buildings 135 and 136, which were rail-served despite that not being shown on the Railmap Online image above.

B. Another gated road-crossing was to be found at this location.Looking Southeast, the line of the MOD railway is marked in red together with the two sidings which served store buildings 117 and 118. The S&MLR mainline ran just behind these two buildings.Turning towards the West, we see buildings 119 and 120 and the location of the road-crossing at B.

C. The road-crossing at location C was only a very short distance from location B.Buildings 119 and 120 were rail served and their sidings crossed the public road before their junction with the main MOD line. There are no obvious signs of the main MOD line on the North side of the public road. It did, however, run north from ‘B’ and ‘C’ in close proximity to the narrow lane shown in the picture below, at approximately the location, just beyond the modern boundary hedge, indicated by the red line.D. At this location two siding separated from the MOD mainline, both trailing to locos travelling north. The first accessed buildings 121 and 122 on the East side of the line, the second linked to stores numbered 123 and 124.Building 121 with 122 hidden behind a tree, (Google Streetview).Buildings 121 and 122 seen from close the road crossing and ‘B’, (Google Streetview).Buildings 123 and 124, (Google Streetview).

E. There was another road crossing at ‘E’ which provided rail access to two further stores – Nos. 125 and 126.Location ‘E’ and Buildings 125 and 126.

To the East of ‘E’ the narrow road and the railway ran in parallel for a few hundred yards before the road turned gradually away to the Northeast.Looking East with the minor road turning away to the Northeast and the MOD line continuing to the East and then turning south to cross the road at point ‘A’ above.

The Maesbrook and Argoed Sub-depot

The fourth sub-depot was located to the Northwest, beyond Kinnerley Station and Junction. The whole Sub-depot was worked as one yard with avrestriction nallowing only one loco at night.Sketch Plan of Argoed Sub-depot. [13]Again Railmap Online simplifies the arrangement of railway tracks. [10]This modern OS Map extract shows the location of the Argoed Sub-depot to the West of Kinnerley village. [8]The Southeastern part of Argoed Sub-depot. [10]The approximate track layout at the South of the Sub-depot. [8]

F. The MOD line diverged slowly from a junction with the S&MLR mainline (‘J’) to a gated road-crossing just to the North of the road bridge over the mainline.The MOD line at ‘F’ looking back eastwards to its junction with the S&MLR, (Google Streetview).Looking forward from location ‘F’ to location ‘G’.

G. The MOD line crossed another minor road at a gated crossing close to Laburnham House on the OS Map extract above. There is no sign of the route on the ground in the 21st Century.Looking back eastward along the minor road from Laburnham House. The red line shows the approximate line of the old railway, (GoogleStreetview). Immediately to the North of the road, off the left side of this picture the MOD line split into two as illustrated in the image below.H. The MOD line at location ‘H’ was crossed by a minor road which travelled North to South. Just to the south of the crossing were two storage buildings – No. 148 and No. 149. which were linked to the line by sidings on their East side.Buildings 148 and 149 seen from the highway south of the old MOD line and North of The Lawns, (Google Streetview).Building 149 seen from the road to the South, on the East side of The Lawns, (Google Streetview).Looking North at location ‘H’. Between the camera and the slight bend in the road there were two railway-crossings. All evidence has now disappeared. The second of those lines fed two storage buildings to the West of the road which can be seen below – Buildings 146 and 147, (Google Streetview).I. The line travelled back East from location ‘H’ passing the two buildings 148 and 149 and buildings 150, 151, 152 and 154 before once again encountering the public highway at location ‘I’ close to storage buildings 166 and 153 which are shown on the adjacent Google Earth satellite image.

At location ‘I’ there were again two rail-crossings of which there is no longer any evidence. At this point the railway turned southwards joining a line form further north and then turned gradually back to form an opposing junction at location ‘J’ above.

K.  Another loop of the MOD Line encompasses the two locations ‘K’ and ‘L’. ‘K’ is shown on the Google Streetview image below.This is the nearest that Google Streetview can get us on the South side to the location of the two road crossings at ‘K’. There were two road crossings on the bend visible ahead. The closest led to Building number 156 which appears in the picture the second loop line ran across the fields just beyond the storage building.The same building (No. 156) viewed from the North along the route of the railway, (Google Streetview). The image below is taken from the same location but this time looking North along the formation of the old line. Lwashere is no obvious sign in the 21st Century of the rail-crossing further to the East on Vicarage Lane, although it is quite likely that the access road running North from the lane follows the formation of the railway.Vicarage Lane looking West at the possible location of the rail-crossing, (Google Streetview).The remaining area of the Argoed Sub-depot is relatively remote from public roads, but some access is possible.

M. Along the line between location ‘K’ and location ‘M’ there is a semi-metalled road on the formation of the old line.The route of the old line is on the right of the image above, an observation tower is on the left with a storage building in between.

The adjacent satellite image shows the same observation tower and storage buildings 158, closest to the line, and 159.

The first two pictures below show the two storage buildings, 189 and 190 which connected to the line at point ‘M’; and secondly, the next set of storage buildings a little to the North along the line and on its West side and numbered 191 and 192.

The third picture below shows both of the two main MOD line near the North of the Argoed site and more of the storage buildings served by those lines. The most northerly line allowed Google Streetview access.

N. The formation of the old line remains, access is over a lightly maintained gravel road. Looking East from location ‘N’.

O. The track formation continues through location ‘O’ as a gravelled road.Looking East from location ‘O’.

P. A road connection exists in the 21st Century from the B4398 to the track formation at location ‘P’.Location ‘P’.The observation tower at location ‘P’ with store buildings 199 and 200 in the distance.

Q. Both arms of the railway met to the East of point ‘Q’ on the above plan and then continued westward before looping through to the East and forming a junction with the S&MLR.Looking East from location ‘Q’ (Google Streetview).Looking Northwest at point ‘Q’ on the above map showing the onward route of the MOD line to the West (Google Streetview).


The military adapted the layout at Lanymynech so that it could act as the “emergency exchange point with the national railway system. The initial WD layout constructed in 1941 provided four loop sidings, but this was later reduced to just two yard roads.” [15: p127]

The Post-War Years

It was anticipated that the ammunition depot would remain open for at least 10 years Carter the end of the War, but the military wanted to allow men to return to civilian life at the earliest possible date. “The manpower shortage created by constant turnover and demobilisation was expected to be so serious that the Army was forced to consider asking the S&MLR Company to take over the operation of the line again and act as agents for working WD traffic.” [15: p133] However, difficulties were encountered in the negotiations and thecdealy proved fortuitous for the WD. The predicted reductions in manpower were not realised. A much larger compliment of military and civilian staff remained available to the Army than had been predicted. The cArmy withdrew from negotiations with the S&MLR Company.

It did not take long after nationalisation for BR, who took on ownership of the line, to realise that receipts did not compare well with staff costs. BR decided to close many of the stations on the line and the Criggion branch, the War Office raised no objection, so closure took place on 1st May 1949.

With a view to a further ten years of occupation, the WD had to face the cost of continuing the upkeep of the railway. As early as May 1945, underused track was lifted to provide rails for necessary replacements on the main line, some parts of which still had the S&M bull head rail.” [15: p141] The Llanymynech to Kimberley blanc by of the railway had only never been intended by the WD to be a necessary emergency provision, so this length was cannibalised. By 1954, this length of line was in a very poor condition and required £25,000 of expenditure to render it adequate for use. [15: p141]

On 4th April 1957, the government published a Defence White Paper reviewing the armed forces in the light of the Suez campaign of the previous year. The result was that “on 18th Oçtober 1957, the WD wrote to the General Manager of British Railways (Western Region) to say that CAD Nescliff would be closed progressively, and completely by March 1960. The WD would then give up its lease on the line, and the working of the civilian traffic would become the responsibility of BR.” [15: p154]

The closure of the S&MLR was inevitable and by 1961, the WD and the BTC were left with the need to reach a financial settlement which recognise that the WD was not going to restore the line and its rolling stock to pre-1941 condition. [15: p166]


  1. Peter Johnson; An Illustrated History of the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Light Railway; OPC, Ian Allan, Hersham, Surrey, 2008.
  2., accessed on 4th August 2019.
  3., accessed on 5th August 2019.
  4., accessed on 5th August 2019.
  5., accessed on 5th August 2019.
  6., Post #5, accessed on 5th August 2019.
  7., accessed on 5th August 2019.
  8., accessed on 6th August 2019.
  9. Hansard: HC Deb 04 May 1960 vol 622 cc1066-7;, accessed on 6th August 2019.
  10., accessed on 6th August 2019.
  11., accessed on 6th August 2019.
  12., accessed on 6th August 2019.
  13., accessed on 6th August 2019.
  14., accessed on 6th August 2019.
  15. Mike Christensen OBE; The Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway Under Military Control 1940-1960; Lightmoor Press, Lydney, 2011.
  16., accessed on 10th August 2019.

Slovenia Railways and the Slovenia Railways Museum

I have just picked up a copy of Global Railway Review. The July 2019 issue. The feature article focusses on infrastructure in Slovenia. Jo, my wife, and I travelled to Slovenia in 2006 and stayed in Bled. Reading the article in Global Railway Review brought back memories of that holiday.

One of my highlights of that holiday was a visit to the railway museum in Ljubljana – the Železniški muzej Slovenskih železnic. It seemed to be closed, but a short chat with someone on site allowed us access to the workshop area if not to the museum itself. I have appended photos of the visit to this post.This image comes from 2010. By this time, the old Roundhouse had been significantly tidied an the collection was on much better display. “The oldest locomotive is the former Austrian Southern Railkway No. 29.718, built in 1861. Keeping her close company is the diminutive No. 162-001. Her huge chimney earned her the nickname ‘the Kamnic Cornet’. Next is the most eminent of the engines, express locomotive No. 03-002, designed in 1910 particularly for the Ljubljana-Trieste line. Nearby is mighty No. 06-018 of 1930, also designed especially for lines in Slovenia. The smallest of all is No. K3, a little gem built in 1892 especially for the narrow gauge Poljčane – Slovenske Konjice Line.”  [4]

The article in Global Railway Review provided some insight into major projects being undertaken by SZ-Infrastruktura, the Slovenian Railways Group in 2019. The Slovenian rail network comprises 1,207km of track and has excellent connections with the pan-European rail network. Three significant rail corridors cross the country’s territory:

  • The Baltic to Adriatic Corridor (RFC 5)
  • The Mediterranean Corridor (RFC 6)
  • The Amber Corridor (RFC 11)

In the future, another Corridor will cross Slovenia – the Alpine to Western Balkan Corridor (RFC 10) connecting Austria with the Turkey-Bulgarian border. [1: p7]

Investment in recent years has been between 200 & 300 million Euros. As of July 2019, there are six major projects and ten more minor projects underway in Slovenia.

Plans for the network in the next 5 years include optimising business processes and updating IT systems; renewing and modernising main lines. [1: p9] The modern network is a far cry from the condition of the network when Slovenia was part of the old Yugoslavia.

Slovenia received its first railway connection in the 1840s, when the Austrian Empire built a railway connection – Südliche Staatsbahn or Austrian Southern Railway – between its capital, Vienna, and its major commercial port, Trieste. Maribor was connected by railway to Graz in 1844. The stretch was extended via Pragersko to Celje in 1846, and further via Zidani Most to Ljubljana in 1849. A double-track line was continued via PostojnaPivka, and Divača, finally reaching Trieste in 1857. [2] The network before 1876. [5]The network grew significantly throughout the 19th century and until the Great War. [5]After the War, development was slow and only minor improvements were undertaken. Few new lines were opened after World War I.

One of lines built after the Great War “connected Ormož with Ljutomer and Murska Sobota, and opened in 1924. After World War II, a single-track electrified line connecting Prešnica with Koper was built in 1967. In 1999, a single-track line between Murska Sobota and Hodoš was rebuilt, offering a direct connection with the Hungarian railway system. The line was originally built in 1907 and closed down in 1968 among numerous other lines closed down during the 1960s. In April 2016 the electrification of the Pragersko – Hodoš line was completed.” [2][5]

The Railway Museum contains a collection of steam locomotives, which includes several rare models, and an extensive collection of old apparatus, tools and other items of technical heritage related to railways. It provides an opportunity to learn about the workings of railways from the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Exhibits on view include items such as light auxiliary rail vehicles (draisines) once used by rail supervisors and maintenance personnel and all kinds of tools and communication devices, including telegraphs, telephones, printing telegraphs, and radio stations.  [3]

In spring and summer, the Railway Museum hosts occasional meetings of train enthusiasts. On such occasions, old steam locomotives are taken out of storage and their furnaces are fired up as part of the museum’s efforts to keep all the artefacts in operational condition. [3]

As I have already noted we managed to be at the museum when it was closed to public access and were pleased to at least have seen inside the roundhouse. We were left to our own devices and wandered all over the museum grounds. The pictures are in the appendix below.


1. Matjaz Kranjc; Investment Secures a Modern Future for Slovenia’s Rail Network; Global Railway Review Vol. 25 No. 4, p6-9.

2., accessed on 10th August 2019.

3., accessed on 10th August 2019.

4., accessed on 10th August 2019.

5., accessed on 10th August 2019.


Some of the photographs taken by myself in Summer 2006 at the Slovenian Railway Museum in Ljubljana (Železniški muzej Slovenskih železnic).



Ford Railmotors on Colonel Stephens’ lines in general and on the S&MLR

Colonel Stephens made use of a wide variety of different vehicles on his light railways. The adjacent picture shows a model of a Ford Railmotor under construction, complete except for the painting and comes from the steamandthings website. [2]
Colonel Stephens purchased four pairs of these Railmotors. The earliest set was purchased for the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR).

Stephens built his first independent railway, the Rye and Camber, intending to use ‘an oil motor on a bogie passenger car’ to operate the service. This was a step too far. The internal combustion engine was less than ten years old and Stephens was unable to realise his ambition. A small steam locomotive had to be used. [4]

Ten years later he returned with another innovation, a light steam railmotor. It proved mechanically unreliable and inevitably the First World War brought the experiment to an end. During the First World War petrol road lorry and bus development leapt forward and traffic on rural railways was under threat. To help counter this, Stephens returned to the new technology. A first experiment was in October 1921 on the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead but the vehicles were effectively hand built one-off products and therefore expensive; too expensive to adopt on cash starved independent light railways. [4]

The Colonel Stephens Society continues: “Stephens had begun experimenting on the Kent & East Sussex at some time before 1921 with a cheaper alternative using an Edwardian Wolseley-Siddeley car chassis that was adapted as a rail lorry and then as a bus. In using such adaptations Stephens was in the forefront of world practice, for only a few lines in North America and one French manufacturer were trying such things at the time.” [4] Details of this vehicle can be found at: Its ultimate use was as a reconstructed coach to run behind the locomotive Gazelle on the Shropshire & Montgomery Light Railway. [5]

Ford Railmotor set No. 1 arrived on the Kent and East Sussex in 1922, featuring in the Commercial Motor Magazine of 12th December 1922. [4] It came from Edmonds of Thetford. The bodywork was made by Eton Coachworks of Cringleford. The seating capacity was 20 in each car. Later models had the same capacity in seating but some design differences. Set No. 1 can be seen in the picture below.

Railmotor No. 1 on the K&ESR at Tenterden in 1923, sitting alongside an Ilfracombe goods loco (c) Colonel Stephens Museum. In its early years the railmotor sets had head lamps either side of the radiator. Later a headlamp was sited on the roof [3]

Ford Railmotor No. 1 at Tenterden Town Station, (c) Ronald Shephard Collection, West Sussex Record Office Ref No: Shephard 1/28/1. [6]

The twin T type Ford set at Headcorn Junction, (c) Ronald Shephard Collection, West Sussex Record Office Ref No: Shephard 1/28/5. [6]

Ford Railcar at Tenterden Town Station on the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The line opened in 1900 as the Rother Valley Railway from Robertsbridge to Tenterden Town in 1903 and to headcorn in May 1905. In 1904 the name of the line was changed to the Kent & East Sussex Railway, (c) Ronald Shephard Collection, West Sussex Record Office Ref No: Shephard 1/28/3. [6]
In September 1923, Stephens wrote to the Commercial Motor Magazine saying: “I have nine small steam railways under my control and am trying several forms of motor trains…. In a previous experiment I learnt, to my sorrow, that it is cheaper to have a car at each end than to put in a reverse gear.’ Col. Stephens gave his reason for choosing Ford chassis as follows: ‘The motive units are the much despised 1-ton Fords; we chose this type, as we can always get spares without delay and for no other reason.” [4]

There were problems with reliability but these railmotors provided a much more efficient passenger service than did the mixed trains that preceded them. One significant advantage for passengers was that they were not detained at intermediate stops to shunt goods wagons. Set No. 1 was followed 12 months or so later by set No. 2 of a very similar design. The second set had all the strengths and weaknesses of the first set but could easily be distinguished from set No. 1 as its windscreen was divided into three panes of glass rather than into two.

Ford Railmotor No. 2 on the K&ESR at Rolvenden in the 1930s. [7]

Ford Railmotor No. 2 on the K&ESR at Junction Road in 1930. [8]

The third Ford Railmotor set was also supplied by Edmonds of Thetford and was very similar to Ford Railmotor No. 2. It ran on the Selsey Tramway. It arrived with headlamps either side of the radiator in 1924 as shown in the adjacent image. [9]

The next image is a CAD image from Shapeways showing their 3-print of the second design of Ford Railmotor. [10]

The fourth of the Ford Railmotor sets purchased by Colonel Stephens was for the Shropshire & Montgomery. It was purchased in 1923 and perhaps should be referred to as the second set. As it set the design parameters for the remaining Ford Railmotor sets bought by Colonel Stephens. This fourth set was different from the other paired sets in that it was provided with a central carriage, increasing the passenger carrying capacity. Visually, the two powered cars were identical to sets 2 and 3 above. Sadly, it may be that these Railmotors were under-powered and the use of the central carriage on the incline out of Shrewsbury Abbey Station may have been impracticable with the intended passenger loading. [1: p22]

The Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway Ford Railmotor set. [11]

Interestingly, these Railmotors kept the low level headlights, or at least one of them throughout their lives. It was usual to see the powered cars working together and the central carriage laid up in a siding somewhere! In most cases pictures show only the two paired powered cars. The usually operated along the S&MLR mainline and left the brach to Gazelle and is coaches.

The Ford Railmotor set in action at Kennerley in 1926. Note the missing headlamp. [12]

The adjacent image shows Criggion station and is dated 5th August 1935. The Ford Railmotor has made an unusual excursion up the branch line. It is on a showing a Railcar set at the platform on a summer excursion from Kinnerley, (c) Roger Carpenter. [13]


  1. Stephen Garrett & John Scott-Morgan; Colonel Stephens Railmotors; Irwell Press, Caernarfon, 1995.
  2., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  3., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  4., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  6., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  7., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  8., accessed on 28th July 2019.
  9., accessed on 28th July 2019.
  10., accessed on 28th July 2019.
  11., accessed on 28th July 2019.
  12. John Scott-Morgan; British Independent Light Railways; David & Charles, Newton Abbott, Devon, 1980; p84.
  13., accessed on 14th May 2019