John Speller's Web Pages Kingham - Banbury Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Narrow Gauge
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The Banbury & Cheltenham Direct Railway developed in several stages. The first section to open was the branch from Kingham on the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway to Chipping Norton in 1855, which curiously enough was the last section to survive. A branch to the west of this to Bourton-on-the-Water opened in 1862. The remaining sections from Chipping Norton to Kings Sutton (just south of Banbury on the GWR main line to Birmingham) and from Bourton-on-the-Water to Cheltenham were completed in 1881. There were three major engineering works on the Kingham to Banbury section -- Hook Norton Viaduct No. 1 (7 spans, 60 ft. high, 188 yards long), Hook Norton Tunnel (418 yards) and Hook Norton No. 2 Viaduct (8 spans, 85 ft. high, 296 yards long). The Banbury to Kingham line, though only a single track except in stations, was marked on Great Western maps as a main line. This was because it was on the route of the "Ports-to-Ports Express." The latter, inaugurated in 1905, was the result of a collaboration between the North Eastern, Great Central and Great Western Railways. Through coaches off the North Eastern Railway from Newcastle and Hull were united at Sheffield and then ran over the Great Central Railway via Nottingham, Leicester, Rugby and Banbury. The train then proceeded via Kingham, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Newport to Cardiff. The Banbury to Kingham section was of necessity slower than the rest. Not only did the single line limit speed by requiring the exchange of tokens, but the viaducts were not robust enough for locomotives in the "red" weight classification, and locomotives of the "blue" weight classification had to be used. For a long time this meant the "Bulldogs" and their replacement, Collett's curiously anachronistic "Earl" or "Dukedog" Class. In later years the admirable "Manor" Class was used. Passenger service between Chipping Norton and Kings Sutton was withdrawn in 1951, and following a landslip in 1958 goods service was also withdrawn. Passenger service between Kingham and Chipping Norton was withdrawn in 1962, and the goods service ceased between these towns in 1969.
The Kingham to Banbury line excerpted from the Great Western Railway System Map
The "Ports-to-Ports Express", composed of North Eastern or Great Central teak coaches, passing through Hook Norton Station in about 1910 behind a Great Western "Bulldog" Class 4-4-0
Chipping Norton Station. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
The Hook Norton Viaducts could not take the weight of "red" locomotives, so the "blue" 78XX "Manor" Class locomotives had to be used between Banbury and Kingham. Perhaps this is why No. 7823 was named "Hook Norton Manor"
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