The Severn and Wye Railway - Railways of the Forest of Dean

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Severn and Wye Railway Timeline (1799-1969)
The idea of a tramway linking the Rivers  Severn & Wye is first considered.

June 1809
"The Lydney & Lydbrook Railway" as  the S&W is known at this point, is secured by Act of Parliament

August 1809
Contracts to construct the tramway are  let.

June 1810
Traffic starts using the tramway, but is  soon halted due to revenue being lost owing to the lack of weighing machines,  weights being a factor in the tolls to use the tramway. A second Act of  Parliament changes the company name to the "The Severn & Wye Railway and  Canal Company".

The financial problems that would plague the  S&W throughout its history have started, with share capital being  insufficient to complete such works as Lydney Habour. Another Act is passed to  increase share capital.

March 1813
Debts of over £15,000 are reported at  this point.

May 1814
Another Act eases the financial  burdens.

The traffic on the tramline increases  during this period, but the company spends considerable amounts of money on  blocking new lines into the Forest.

The Dean Forest Mines Act is passed which  changes working practices in the Forest. The Severn & Wye starts coming  under pressure to improve the tramway services.

The Severn & Wye contests the rival  Forest of Dean Railway's plans to construct a new harbour and line in the  eastern valleys. The plan is dropped.

The South Wales Railway apply to purchase  the tramway with a view to building a line alongside it. Although the Severn  & Wye agree in principle to this, the plan stalls over the selling  price.

The Severn & Wye and South Wales  Railway again clash over the Forest Of Dean tramroad, this time over its  conversion to an edged railway. Although the plan goes ahead, the S&W gains  a concession of £15,000 to assist its conversion to broad gauge.

September 1851
The South Wales line opens. The  interchange facilities at Lydney serve to highlight the differences between the  two lines.

Proposals to convert the line to a single  broad-gauge line are submitted to the Commissioners of Woods. In order for the  scheme to be approved the S&W must allow a central line into the Forest to  built independently of them. The S&W objects and negotiations  cease.

August 1853
A scheme is submitted to Parliament in  which the S&W improves the tramway rather than convert to a railway and  become carriers themselves by using locomotives. The scheme is sanctioned, but  locomotives do not appear until 1864.

October 1864
The first locomotive, an 0-4-0 tank  engine is delivered to Lydney for use on the tramway.

November 1865
The fifth and last locomotive for the  tramway is delivered.

March 1866
An anonymous offer is made for the  S&W but nothing comes of it.

May 1867
It is decided to place a broad gauge  railway from Lydney to Parkend, as well as extending the Moseley Green (later  Mineral Loop) Branch to Foxes Bridge.

March 1868
Six hundred tons of edge rail is  delivered to Lydney.

May 1868
A new broad gauge locomotive is ordered,  with the existing fifth locomotive undergoing a conversion.

November 1868
The new line (at this point running to  Wimberry, just north of Speech House Road) is tested using No 5, now designated  "Forester" and the new locomotive is delivered. However problems at Whitecroft  delay the opening of the line with alterations to the route being ordered by the  Commissioners of Woods. However, the alterations are not completed and the  original route stands.

April 1869
The first traffic is carried on the new  line.

July 1869
The S&W obtains approval for what  will be become the Mineral Loop from Tufts Junction to Drybrook Rd, despite the  opposition of the rival Forest of Dean Central Railway and the Great Western  Railway.

May 1870
Authorisation is obtained to construct  what will become the Lydbrook Branch.

September 1870
Construction of the Mineral Loop begins;  however with the GWR now converting to standard gauge, it is decided that the  Mineral Loop will also be standard gauge, with a third rail being added from  Lydney to Tufts Junction.

April - May 1872
Traffic commences on the Mineral Loop,  which now runs to the main S&W line at Wimberry. The main line is now  converted to standard gauge.

June 1872
Construction on the Lydbrook branch  commences.
July 1872

The Coleford branch is authorised. With  the GWR also planning a line to Coleford from Monmouth, the race is on! The  Severn Bridge Railway is also authorised.
Passenger services on the line are also  authorised.

November 1872
Construction of the Lydbrook Viaduct is  started. This was probably the greatest engineering feat of the  S&W.

May 1873
The provision for passenger stations is  begun.

August 1974
Lydbrook Viaduct is completed.

Construction of the Severn Railway Bridge  commences.

July 1875
The Coleford Branch opens. At this point,  most of the old tramway lines are redundant, although some are retained for  transporting goods to the railway.

23rd September 1875
The first passenger train from Lydney to  Lydbrook occurs.

9th December 1875
The first passenger train to Coleford  occurs.

July 1878
With the Severn Bridge Railway running  into financial trouble, the only way to save the project is for the S&W and  SBR to amalgamate and permit the Midland Railway running powers across both  lines. This decision is taken reluctantly by S&W due to the possible threat  to its relationship with the GWR. However full unification of the companies will  not take place until 1885.

The expenditure of the past decade,  especially the problems with the SBR, mean that the S&W starts attempting to  reduce expenditure. During this period the S&W attempts to promote tourism  to the Forest of Dean area and the process of replacing the iron rails with  steel ones begins.

March 1883
A six-week collier strike begins which  drastically reduces S&W revenue. Although the company attempts to reduce  expenditure, it is ultimately forced into liquidation.

September 1883
The GWR line from Monmouth to Coleford  opens to passengers.

June 1885
The S&W obtains legal powers obliging  the GWR to provide through rates for South Wales coal traffic to the South of  England using the Severn Bridge. The battle is not over though as the GWR are  able to stall proceedings until the Severn Tunnel is opened.

July 1885
The S&W and SBR completely unite, and  are able to end their period under receivership.

September 1886
The GWR opens the Severn Tunnel and  promptly starts undercutting the Severn Bridge rates, forcing the S&W to use  canvassers to obtain trade and check traffic routing.

The coal trade in the Forest of Dean is  down and the S&W suffers difficulties with finance and the state of its  locomotive stock. At this point the company owns 13 tank engines, 12 0-6-0's and  1 0-4-0. Only the five original tramway locomotives have been disposed  of.

February 1893
The depression of the coal trade is now  seriously affecting the S&W with dividends on preference stocks unable to be  paid at this point.

September 1893 - June  1894
A sudden increase in coal demand comes  too late for the S&W, who ironically are not in a position to cope with the  demand. It is decided to sell the line to be run jointly by the Midland Railway  and the GWR.

July 1894
The S&W and SBR become the joint property of the Midland  Railway and the Great Western Railway with a Joint Committee of three directors  from each company being formed.

June 1895
A condition of the sale of the S&W is that the main line is  extended into Cinderford town. It is agreed that the town's recreation ground  will become the new terminus.

October 1895
With the original S&W locomotives in such a bad state, the  joint committee agrees mileage hire rates for GWR and MR locomotives.

April 1896
The doubling of the line between Tufts Junction and Parkend is  re-commenced, having been halted in 1893.

February 1898
Work commences on the Cinderford extension.

August 1898
The doubling is submitted for inspection by the Board of Trade,  which recommends improvements.

December 1899
The doubling finally gets approval.

July 1900
The Cinderford Extension opens.

April 1903
Lower Lydbrook station is closed, the first major casuality of  the S&W. At this point the station was a unmanned request stop which is  somewhat inaccessable.

The Dean Forest Mines act is passed results in increased coal  traffic over the S&W, with improvements at Speech House Road and Serridge  Junction being made.

September 1905
The hire rates agreement of 1895 expires and the system switches  to a time-based rate.

January 1906
The maintenance of the permanent way is split, with the GWR  taking responsibility for the line from Coleford Junction northwards and the  Mineral Loop, and the MR having the rest of the line to maintain.

The GWR decides to introduce passenger services over its own  Forest of Dean branch and a connection is built from that line to the S&W  line into Cinderford. With the new route being shorter to Gloucester, this has a  marked effect on S&W passenger services from Cinderford. The connection  opens in April 1908.

December 1916
The GWR line to Coleford is closed, apart from the section from  Coleford to Whitecliff Quarry which the S&W takes over the running  of.

July 1918
Coleford S&W Station building is destroyed by fire. However,  it would be six years before new permanent facilities are provided.

The S&W runs at a loss, and expenditure is reduced over the  next few years.

June 1923
Milkwall station is damaged by fire,  resulting in a long-overdue upgrade of facilities.

October 1924
Additional station facilities at Coleford  are approved.

Despite the economy measures since 1922,  another loss is reported this year. With passenger traffic dwindling due to road  competition, the decision is taken to remove passenger services north of Lydney  Town.

May 1927
Cinderford Signal Box is taken out of  use, and Drybrook Signal Box is converted to a ground frame.

March 1928
Staff economies are put into effect, but  only six men are made redundant.

February 1929
Due to demand, problems are occurring  with wagon stabling at Lydney, with additional sidings at three collieries being  recommended as a solution.

July 1929
The withdrawal of passenger services  north of Lydney takes effect. Although there are some protests, research shows  that passenger traffic, never vast at the best of times, has dwindled to almost  nothing, and the closures take place as planned. Apart from a few "specials",  there will be nothing resembling a regular passenger service north of Lydney for  over 50 years.

November 1930
The line between Tufts Junction and  Parkend is singled, with the "Down" main line between Tufts and Whitecroft  becoming a siding. Whitecroft signal box is also taken out of use.

September 1932
A Saturday passenger service between  Lydney and Parkend is considered, but nothing comes of this.

November 1936
Auto trailers are first used on the  Lydney Town to Berkeley passenger services.

The Second World War sees the Forest of  Dean used for ammunition storage with Moseley tunnel becoming a storage point.  The Mineral loop is broken in May 1942 but track is relaid in December 1943. By  the end of the war, all the collieries along the Mineral Loop have closed and  the military depot is providing the sole traffic for the line.

March 1951
The Mineral Loop is broken at Moseley  Green and the line south of this point is closed as far as Pillowell.

May 1951
GWR railcar number 7, as part of a  Gloucestershire Society Rail Tour, becomes the last passenger train over  Lydbrook Viaduct.

December 1951
The line between Serridge Junction and  Cinderford Junction is closed.

June 1953
The remainder of the Mineral Loop is  closed apart from the section between Pillowell and Whitecroft.

January 1956
The North section of the Lydbrook Branch  is closed from Mierystock to Lydbrook Junction. The remainder of the branch is  retained for traffic from Arthur and Edward Colliery.

November 1957
The Pillowell-Whitecroft section of the  Mineral Loop is closed.

November 1958
Passenger services from Cinderford along  the Forest of Dean Line are withdrawn.

January 1959
The withdrawal of passenger services  along the Ross-Monmouth line ends passenger services to Lydbrook Junction. Goods  services from Lydbrook Junction to Monmouth are also withdrawn.

October 1960
A petrol tanker collides with the Severn  Railway Bridge killing five people and demolishing two spans of the bridge. This  effectively spells the end for the remaining passenger services out of Lydney  and the bridge is demolished by 1970.

November 1960
The closure of Arthur and Edward and  Cannop Collieries removes remaining traffic north of Speech House Road  Ironically, this section had just been resignaled, and apart from a few  specials, the only trains to use the new signalling are the trains demolishing  the line.

August 1963
The section between Coleford Junction and  Speech House road is closed.

The remaining goods services from  Lydbrook Junction to Ross are withdrawn, ending the life of the  station.

March 1964
Lydney Engine shed is closed. Steam  services are withdrawn over the next couple of years.

May 1965
The closure of Princess Royal Colliery  results in the closure of the Oakwood Branch.

October 1965
Despite attempts to save it, Lydbrook  Viaduct is demolished.

Cinderford Station closes to goods  traffic. The station is demolished by 1968.

August 1967
The Coleford Branch is closed, with any  remaining goods traffic being brought by road to Marsh Sidings near  Parkend.
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