In 1845, the Midland Railway, formed only a year earlier from a group of lines servingDerbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire, outflanked and outbid the Great Western Railway for the purchase of the Birmingham & Gloucester and Bristol & Gloucester railways, who themselves had just agreed to amalgamate as the Birmingham & Bristol Railway. As a result the railway map of Gloucestershire was to have a Midland red spine, with an important and busy main line running through the county from Ashchurch in the north to Yate in the south and with numerous branches breaking off from it. It also served to turn Gloucester in to one of the countrys great railway centres of the steam age, where the Midland had a separate station, goods yards, dock system and locomotive shed.
Since starting the series of colour illustrated books covering Gloucestershires' railway network a considerable quantityof exciting and previously unpublished photographs have been contributed.The planned areas of coverage for each volume have been revised toaccommodate these images and volume 3, which had been planned to cover the Midland Railway and branches complete from Worcestershire to Westerleigh, has seen this split at Gloucester into two volumes.
Midland lines part 1 begins therefore in the north at Defford, just over the county boundary in Worcestershire, from where we head south to the magnificent architectural gem that was Ashchurch station. Here, we alight to travel the two branches heading off east and west: eastwards, to the Midland station at Evesham, was part of a double-track line that formed a secondary route to Birmingham, via Redditch and Barnt Green, but which was in its final years in the pictures that show it here; meanwhile, that to the west had originally run to Malvern but had been cut back to terminate at Upton-on-Severn in 1952.
Back on the main line, the journey then is south through Cleeve, Cheltenham Lansdown and Churchdown, to reach the Midland station at Gloucester, renamed Eastgate by British Railways in 1951. There is a visit to the locomotive sheds at Barnwood on the way and coverage of the Midland goods yard at Gloucester.
Volume 4, Midland Lines Part 2 - South (anticipated to be ready autumn 2019) will covertheBristol & Gloucester 'Charfield route'south from Gloucester towards Bristol, along with the Stroud/Nailsworth, Dursley, Sharpnessand Thornbury branches.