The Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Railway in 2009
The West Shropshire Mineral Railway Act of 1862 authorised the building of the railway. An act of 1866 created the Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway, locally known as "The Potts". Financial problems beset the railway from its opening in 1866 and in 1890 a new company called Shrewsbury Railways came about. It was placed in receivership in 1891. Under the authority of The Light Railways Act of 1896 Colonel Holman Fred Stephens took on the daunting task of reviving "The Potts". He renamed it The Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway (SMLR). The route from Shrewsbury to Llanymynech re-opened in 1911.Twenty years of the Colonels legendary make do and mend style continued until his death in 1931.Ten years of declining fortune followed. The War Department took control in 1941 and set about improving the railway to cope with the tens of thousands of tons of ammunitions stored in the 200 plus buildings put up between Ford and Maesbrook. The ending of World War 2 saw the start of the final closure of this little railway, which carried its last train in February 1960.
1. ABBEY STATION
Saved from demolition by Shrewsbury Railway Heritage Trust. Future uncertain. Station yard, now the car park, was an oil depot siding until 1988. The track, now a footpath ran at the back of the supermarket and passes the junction from which a loop to the L.N.W.R. was installed. The line curved to the right, running close by Shrewsbury engine sheds, passed over the Hereford line and then from Meole Brace ran alongside the Welshpool line until Hookagate.
Out of town on the Longden Road the bridge over the railway gives a good view of the track bed alongside the Welshpool line. The station was demolished in 1941 to make way for an exchange siding.
3. SHOOT HILL.
From Hookagate the line made its way through farmland crossing a country road at Shoot Hill. One of a number of locations where the railway crossed a public road. Under War Department ownership continental style barriers were used.
The bridge abutments on one side of the A458 still exist. A footpath on the track bed is accessed from a side road just off the A458. The bridge, which carried the line over this side road, still exists. The first of the many army munitions stores are seen from here. The line headed across farmland in the direction of the River Severn.
Accessed off the A5 (T) a vantage point presents a view of where the line crossed the river. The original bridge built for double track was reconstructed to a single track viaduct by the War Department in 1947. Eventually dismantled in 1962.
The centre of the War Departments involvement with the line. The training area is still used. Many of the ammunition buildings remain but are not used for ordnance storage.
About a mile south of the village on the Edgerley road the line passed under a road bridge, now an incline. The station was just below the bridge on the Llanymynech side. Further along from the station were the engine sheds and the junction of the Criggion branch. These are on private land.
8. MAESBROOK STATION
The current owner has connections with the railway going back to the early 1900,s. The platform and position of the track are clearly evident and some of the building features are still recognisable from the many published photographs that exist.
9. MELVERLEY STATION
Evidence of its existence not obvious from the road other than the slight incline of the seven arch bridge that went over line. The centre arch was over the track the remaining six were built to allow floodwater easy passage.
In 1960 the rails were replaced with tarmac. The current bridge was constructed under the supervision of the newly formed British Railways in 1949.Previous ones were built a short distance downstream and trains could only use them with extreme caution.
The Station was alongside the church whose vicar wrote to the Board of Trade in November 1912 complaining about a rail journey he made in the passenger section of the famous locomotive Gazelle. The line ran on to the Breidden Quarry and continued in traffic until 1959.
The station located on the Maesbrook Road. SMLR passengers here had access to Cambrian Railway
Thanks to the (SHRT) Shrewsbury Heritage Railway Trust for the above information