Hartlebury Railway Station
Eventually, after 8 years from the time that the scheme was approved by Parliament, the first thirty-six miles of track was opened for business. This brought the railway to Hartlebury but at that time it was only possible to travel as far as Stourbridge in one direction and Evesham in the other.
The opening of this section of line took place on May 1st 1852. The directors of the Railway Company, various dignitaries and other guests collected together at Worcester in a train with an engine and about 20 carriages. In an open carriage at the front there was a band playing music and the train moved off towards Evesham. Crowds gathered to see the train pass and the stations (some of which were not finished) were decorated with flags and bunting. Two hundred guests had lunch at Evesham and some 2000 workers were provided with dinner at their places of work.
After the meal the train returned to Stourbridge and finally back to Kidderminster. Here about 80 guests were entertained to dinner at the Lion Hotel by the Mayor. At this dinner the directors said that the line would shortly open as far as Dudley and within a few months to Wolverhampton. It was also expected that engineering works would be complete as far as Oxford in the autumn. Dinner was at 9.30 pm but those guests leaving by train could not do so until about 11.00 pm because of problems with the engine!
The problems of the OWWR apparently did not improve with time although Worcester was slowly becoming a railway centre. A loco and carriage works was established at Shrub Hill, but despite this on one occasion an express train was delayed at Hartlebury for six hours because four successive locomotives failed to work. It was finally decided in 1860 to amalgamate the OWWR with a number of other railways to form the West Midland Railway Company.
Since its closure we can now only walk along that part of the line between Hartlebury and Stourport; but thanks to the group of enthusiasts who formed the Severn Valley Railway Society, steam trains run once more from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth. Today the SVR brings pleasure to the thousands of visitors who travel the line throughout the year.
In 1852, The Rector and Vestrymen of the Parish Church were trying to sue the Great Western Railway Company for £45 because one of the parish horses was killed by a train at Hartlebury Station level crossing; they also wanted £1 for damage to the harness. In the end they settled for £20.
From Diaries of the Late David Joy (1825-1903)
P L Chadwick
CC BY-SA 2.0
What a shame that so much of our old railway system was taken out of use after all the labour and expense that went into its construction. If it had been developed rather than destroyed we might have less congestion on the roads today.
Walter Tinley and Chris Yeats
Hartlebury level crossing
Jennifer Luther Thomas
CC BY-SA 2.0