Shropshire Railways History Past and present

                          Bishop’s Castle to Craven Arms

Plans were proposed to build this line in 1860; a line which would link the Oswestry and Newtown Railway at Montgomery with the Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway just to the north of Craven Arms. This line to Montgomery would include a loop from Lydham Heath into Bishop’s Castle. There were also plans at this early stage to extend the Minsterley branch down in to Bishop’s Castle via Chirbury, thus providing a direct link with Shrewsbury. This latter idea was not approved by everyone and it caused a bitter split in the local community; the extension of the line from Minsterley of course never happened. Royal Assent was given in June 1861 to build the whole line from Montgomery to Craven Arms; a total length of nearly 20 miles, including the reversal link into Bishop’s Castle from Lydham Heath. The first section from Bishop’s Castle to Craven Arms was built between October 1864 and 1865 and services started between these two destinations before work was due to start on the remainder of the line, not to mention the lack of a station at Bishop’s Castle itself. The formal opening came on 1st February 1866, when initially four mixed freight and passenger trains ran each day in each direction. The travel time was planned at 30 minutes, however most trains ended up taking an average of 50 minutes for each one way journey. As early as 1866 plans for the second part of the line to be completed were in tatters; financial collapses of large banks caused panic and widespread bankrupsy all over the country. Despite local attempts to raise capital by selling company assets, legal action against the company left all extension plans in ruins. The line struggled on after the First World War, but by 1930 rumours were rapidly circulating that closure wasn’t far away. Sadly the final curatain came in 1935, thus not allowing the line to have the Second World War resurrection enjoyed by most other railways in Shropshire. Today the line is remembered and recalled fondly by the Bishop’s Castle Railway Society.
The last remaining viaduct