John Speller's Web Pages Warwick & Leamington Union Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - L&NWR
Warwick & Leamington Union Railway LNWR Untitled
On 18 June 1842 the Warwick & Leamington Union Railway Act received the Royal Assent. This authorized the building of what later came to be known as the London & North Western Railway's Coventry to Leamington Spa branch, and which is today a useful through link between the West Coast Main Line and Southampton. The powers to build the originally independent line were transferred to the London & Birmingham Railway (the L&NWR after 1846) by an Act of 3 April 1843, and opened on 9 December 1844. The line originally terminated at Warwick Milverton station, 1 miles short of Leamington Spa, but when the Great Western Railway's line to Birmingham reached Leamington Spa in 1852 the L&NWR was forced to complete their line to Leamington in 1854 and open a station at Leamington Avenue, next door to the GWR station, in order to compete. In 1864 a link was made with the GWR line, after which a good deal of goods traffic was interchanged between the two lines. The intermediate stations between Coventry and Leamington Avenue were at Kenilworth and the original terminus of Warwick Milverton, but both were closed under the Beeching Axe in 1965. In the same year all trains began using the Great Western station and Leamington Avenue station was also closed. A cut-off from Berkswell to Kenilworth Junction, avoiding Coventry, was opened in 1884 and closed in 1969. There has been some discussion of reopening Kenilworth station. This combined with electrifying the Coventry to Leamington line would rationalize services considerably, enabling local service to run from Birmingham to Leamington via Coventry, and enabling trains to Southampton to change engines at Leamington rather than Coventry. This would save quite a bit of congestion on the West Coast Main Line at Coventry.

A serious accident occurred on the line on the morning of 11 June 1861, when the cast iron bridge carrying the line over the road at Lee Wootten collapsed under McConnell 0-6-0 goods engine No. 282 hauling a train of empty coal wagons tender first. The driver and fireman were pinned against the firebox by falling coal and burnt to death. A subsequent inquiry determined that McConnell's engines were heavier than permitted and that their weight had been misrepresented, as a result of which McConnell was forced to resign.
Opening of the Warwick & Leamington Union Railway, 9 December 1844
Kenilworth station in around 1914, with a newspaper train behind an L&NWR "Jumbo" Class 2-4-0 passing the down platform
Coventry to Leamington local train, composed of L&NWR 6-wheel carriages behind a 2-4-2 radial tank, crossing the viaduct near Warwick Milverton in around 1905
Leamington Branch excerpted from the L&NWR System Map
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