If you lived in Gloucestershire between 1990 and 1992 you might remember a weekly newspaper called The Gloucester Journal. In The Gloucester Journal was a feature called Railspot, which I wrote. Each week, Railspot would include a picture, 500 words describing it, and often some pub quiz type questions about railways.

People have often asked me what happened to Railspot, and the good news is that it is - slowly - coming back. Even better news is that as I am no longer restrained by the limitations of a newspaper on the Internet, I can revisit some favourite topics, update them and add new pictures and web links. I can even do my own proof reading!

Here is a retake of an article on a railway which now has its own comprehensive website:



  The Swindon & Cricklade Railway, one of Britain's least well known preserved lines, stands on the route of the Midland & South Western Junction Railway, one of Britain's least well known cross country companies.

The idea of trains linking the industrial Midlands with the South Coast dates back to the 1840s, and in 1881 the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway was completed. Its associations with the London & South Western Railway at its southern end, however, made the Great Western Railway hostile to the little company.

To avoid the GWR routes around Swindon, the Swindon and Cheltenham Extension Railway was initiated in 1882 to link the S.M. & A.R. with the Midland Railway at Cheltenham via Cricklade, Blunsdon, Cirencester, Chedworth and Andoversford.

The S.M. & A.R. merged with the S. & C. E.R. in 1884 to become the Midland & South Western Junction Railway. Narrowly escaping financial ruin from high building costs, the M. & S.W.J.R. ran its first train from Cheltenham to Andover on 1 August 1891. From 1892 to 1899 the new line was managed by Sam Fay of the London & South Western Railway, one of the leading railway personalities of his time. He turned the M. & S.W.J.R. into a highly efficient railway and gained it running powers over the L. & S.W.R. south of Andover. As early as 1894 holiday specials were steaming direct from Cheltenham to Bournemouth.

The 1914-1918 war damaged the trade of the M. & S.W.J.R. and when it fell to the Great Western at Grouping in 1923 many staff left rather than serve under the "old enemy". despite playing a key role in the preparations for D-day in 1944 the line continued to be run down. Passenger services on what was affectionately known as the "Tiddley Dike" were withdrawn in 1961.

Today the Swindon & Cricklade Railway leases the Cricklade-Morden section of the line and is headquartered at Tadpole Lane, Blunsdon.

For more information on the Midland & South Western Junction Railway visit




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