Severn and Wye Railway Timeline (1799-1969)
The idea of a tramway linking the Rivers Severn & Wye is first considered.
"The Lydney & Lydbrook Railway" as the S&W is known at this point, is secured by Act of Parliament
Contracts to construct the tramway are let.
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.
Debts of over £15,000 are reported at this point.
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.
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.
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.
The first locomotive, an 0-4-0 tank engine is delivered to Lydney for use on the tramway.
The fifth and last locomotive for the tramway is delivered.
An anonymous offer is made for the S&W but nothing comes of it.
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.
Six hundred tons of edge rail is delivered to Lydney.
A new broad gauge locomotive is ordered, with the existing fifth locomotive undergoing a conversion.
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.
The first traffic is carried on the new line.
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.
Authorisation is obtained to construct what will become the Lydbrook Branch.
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.
Construction on the Lydbrook branch commences.
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.
Construction of the Lydbrook Viaduct is started. This was probably the greatest engineering feat of the S&W.
The provision for passenger stations is begun.
Lydbrook Viaduct is completed.
Construction of the Severn Railway Bridge commences.
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.
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.
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.
The GWR line from Monmouth to Coleford opens to passengers.
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.
The S&W and SBR completely unite, and are able to end their period under receivership.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the original S&W locomotives in such a bad state, the joint committee agrees mileage hire rates for GWR and MR locomotives.
The doubling of the line between Tufts Junction and Parkend is re-commenced, having been halted in 1893.
Work commences on the Cinderford extension.
The doubling is submitted for inspection by the Board of Trade, which recommends improvements.
The doubling finally gets approval.
The Cinderford Extension opens.
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.
The hire rates agreement of 1895 expires and the system switches to a time-based rate.
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.
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.
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.
Milkwall station is damaged by fire, resulting in a long-overdue upgrade of facilities.
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.
Cinderford Signal Box is taken out of use, and Drybrook Signal Box is converted to a ground frame.
Staff economies are put into effect, but only six men are made redundant.
Due to demand, problems are occurring with wagon stabling at Lydney, with additional sidings at three collieries being recommended as a solution.
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.
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.
A Saturday passenger service between Lydney and Parkend is considered, but nothing comes of this.
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.
The Mineral Loop is broken at Moseley Green and the line south of this point is closed as far as Pillowell.
GWR railcar number 7, as part of a Gloucestershire Society Rail Tour, becomes the last passenger train over Lydbrook Viaduct.
The line between Serridge Junction and Cinderford Junction is closed.
The remainder of the Mineral Loop is closed apart from the section between Pillowell and Whitecroft.
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.
The Pillowell-Whitecroft section of the Mineral Loop is closed.
Passenger services from Cinderford along the Forest of Dean Line are withdrawn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lydney Engine shed is closed. Steam services are withdrawn over the next couple of years.
The closure of Princess Royal Colliery results in the closure of the Oakwood Branch.
Despite attempts to save it, Lydbrook Viaduct is demolished.
Cinderford Station closes to goods traffic. The station is demolished by 1968.
The Coleford Branch is closed, with any remaining goods traffic being brought by road to Marsh Sidings near Parkend.