This page describes the line from Brentingby Junction to Ashwell. I have not covered the section through Melton Mowbray as that is covered in great detail on my website www.meltonmowbrayrailways.info and there seems little point in repeating the information here.
BRENTINGBY CROSSING HAD A SIGNAL BOX FROM 1879 UNTIL 1904 WHEN IT WAS DOWNGRADED FROM A BLOCK POST. IT CONTINUED AS A CROSSING BOX UNTIL 1918 WHEN IT WAS REPLACED WITH A SMALL HUT. THE CROSSING WAS DOWNGRADED TO AN OCCUPATION CROSSING IN 1964, AT WHICH TIME THE HUT AND THE CROSSING COTTAGE WERE DEMOLISHED. THE LANE ONLY GIVES ACCESS TO FIELDS, AND REAMINS UNSURFACED.
THE VIEW FROM THE FOOTBRIDGE LOOKING TOWARDS BRENTINGBY JUNCTION AND THE CROSSING IN 2008.
BRENTINGBY CROSSING IN 2008, NOW JUST A TRACK GIVING ACCESS TO THE FIELDS.
A NARROW LANE CROSSES THE LINE AT WYFORDBY CROSSING. THE COTTAGE WAS THE LAST SURVIVOR OF A TYPE USED IN SEVERAL PLACES
ON THE MIDDLE SECTION OF THE LINE....THE WINDOWS ARE MODERN REPLACEMENTS AND THE ROOF WAS ORIGINALLY SLATE.
THIS STYLE OF CROSSING COTTAGE WAS ERECTED HERE AT WYFORDBY, AT ASHWELL, LANGHAM JUNCTION AND EGLETON CROSSINGS.
HOWEVER, FOR SOME REASON THE CROSSINGS AT SAXBY AND WYMONDHAM HAD A SINGLE STOREY COTTAGE IN A TOTALLY DIFFEERENT STYLE.....
COULD THE PROXIMITY OF STAPLEFORD HALL BE THE REASON FOR THE DIFFERENCE?
SAXBY FIRST STATION OPENED 1/2/1849. REPLACED BY JUNCTION STATION, OPENED 28/8/1892. CLOSED 6/2/1961 PASSENGERS & GOODS.
WHY THE ORIGINAL STATION DID NOT OPEN WITH THE LINE IN 1848 IS NOT CLEAR.
REMAINS AT SITE; BRICK OVERBRIDGE, JUNCTION SIGNAL BOX IN USE, ORIGINAL STATION BUILDING, ROW OF RAILWAY COTTAGES (MUCH ALTERED), FORMER LEVEL CROSSING COTTAGE. REMNANTS OF 1892 STATION BUILDING.
THE 'BATTLE OF SAXBY'.
Stapleford Park is an estate lying four miles east of Melton Mowbray; in 1884 the owner was Lord Harborough. The Oakham canal, in which he was a major shareholder, skirted the estate to the north. In October1844 the Midland Railway announced the intention to build the Syston to Peterborough line, and Lord Harborough was approached as one of the major landowners on the route. He made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with the new line.
The deadline for getting approval from Parliament was a tight one so the MR set about surveying the route without the agreement of his Lordship, and the surveying team soon came to blows with staff from the estate. Things escalated to the extent that hired thugs were brought in by both sides, culminating in a mass brawl on November 16th which the few local police could do little to prevent. The surveying chains ended up in the canal, and the railway side gave way. Court appearances continued into April 1845, from both sides, and the skirmishes entered local folklore as the 'Battle of Saxby'.
In mid 1846 the MR decided to look for an alternative route; by this time the two outer sections of the line were open and the hold up was costing a great deal of money. They had originally intended to curve the line around the Park on the route of the canal, which the MR had bought for that purpose, but now they surveyed a shorter line to the south of Stapleford, which would tunnel under the Cuckoo Plantation to hide if from the big house. Work began on this diversion, but unfortunately the tunnel was very shallow and it collapsed, taking much of the plantation with it. All work stopped and there was stalemate again.
Desperate to get the line open, the MR accepted that they would never get the cooperation of Lord Harborough so they built their line in a tight curve well to the north of Stapleford Park on land not contested by His Lordship; he was paid £22,000 by the Midland to finally resolve the dispute. It was far from ideal; the curve meant that speeds had to be kept low which became more of a problem as the years passed and expresses were more tightly timed. The station serving Saxby was built at the beginning of the curve, well away from the village but ironically very well placed for Stapleford Hall. Construction costs, on the other hand, were far less because there was now no tunnel to build, saving £35,000.
Not until 1892 was the situation fully resolved, by which time Lord Harborough was long in his grave; the curve was eased and a new line constructed very much on the alignment that had been planned in 1844, with a new junction station and a branch to meet the M&GNR at Little Bytham. The main line was four tracked around the curve as far as Wymondham Junction.
The old trackbed of Lord Harborough's Curve can still clearly be seen, a relic of the days when landowners were all powerful and even Geoge Hudson had to accept defeat.
KING EDWARD 7th AT SAXBY STATION WAITING FOR A CONNECTION IN 1907.
ON 22/2/1958 THE 09.44 PETERBOROUGH PULLS INTO SAXBY STATION BEHIND 2P No. 40396. H.N. JAMES.
9F No 92036 HEADING SOUTH DURING 1958. H.N. JAMES.
CLASS D2 4-4-0 STANDS AT IN THE UP GOODS LOOP AT SAXBY DURING 1944. H.N. JAMES.
ON 18/4/1958 AUSTERITY 2-8-0 90153 APPROACHES SAXBY FROM THE SOUTH. H.N. JAMES.
ON THE SAME DAY BUT HEADING SOUTH, GARRATT 47986 ON A COAL TRAIN. H.N. JAMES.
SHORTLY AFTER CLOSURE A B1 HEADS THROUGH THE STATION; DISMANTLING HAS ALREADY BEGUN.
PHOTOGRAPHED FROM THE ROAD BRIDGE, A TRAIN OF CEMENT WAGONS FROM KETTON HEADS NORTH BEHIND A CLASS 58 IN 1984.
SAXBY JUNCTION SIGNAL BOX.
THE SAD REMAINS OF THE STATION IN 1984.
THE CROSSING COTTAGE BUILT WHERE THE ORIGINAL MAIN LINE CROSSEED THE SAXBY TO WHISSENDINE ROAD...A SIGNAL BOX STOOD BY THE CROSSING. THIS SECTION WAS KNOWN AS 'LORD HARBOROUGH'S CURVE', AS THE OWNER OF NEARBY STAPLEFORD HALL FORCED THE M.R. TO CURVE THEIR LINE AROUND HIS ESTATE RATHER THAN CROSSING IT. THE LINE HERE WAS ABANDONED IN 1892 WHEN THE MAIN LINE CURVE WAS EASED AND THE NEW JUNCTION STATION WAS BUILT.
THE TRACKBED OF THE CURVE NEAT PILE BRIDGE FARM, SITE OF THE FAMOUS 'BATTLE OF SAXBY'. THE LINE CROSSED THE RIVER ON A WOODEN BRIDGE ORIGINALLY.
INCREDIBLY THE STATION BUILDING HANGS ON TO LIFE, SURROUNDED BY A SELF STORE DEPOT.
WYMONDHAM JUNCTION THIS WAS THE END OF THE FOUR TRACK SECTION FROM SAXBY JUNCTION. SIGNAL BOX OPENED 11/8/1891. CLOSED 27/11/1966.
TAKEN FROM A NORTHBOUND TRAIN, THIS PHOTO SHOWS THE TRACKBED OF THE OLD MAIN LINE ON THE RIGHT PASSING UNDER THE BRIDGE.
THE JUNCTION IN 1957, TAKEN FROM THE SIGNAL BOX.
JUST NORTH OF WYMONDHAM JUNCTION ON 12th JUNE 1946, WITH A TRAIN FROM BRADFORD DOUBLE HE4ADED BY 'CRAB' 2-6-0 No 2724 AND 'COMPOUND' 4-4-0 No1019. PHOTO H.N. JAMES.
BETWEEN WYMONDHAM JUNCTION AND WHISSENDINE IS WYMONDHAM LEVEL CROSSING.
IN APRIL 2008, THIS ATTRACTIVE HOUSE HAD JUST BEEN BUILT ON THE SITE; NETWORK RAIL HAD DEMOLISHED THE ORIGINAL COTTAGE DESPITE THE OWNERS OF THE NEW HOUSE WANTING TO BUY IT.
A PASSENGER TRAIN RUNNING SOUTH BETWEEN WYMONDHAM CROSSING AND WHISSENDINE IN 1983.....THE CLASS 31 HAULED TRAINS RAN BETWEEN NORWICH & BIRMINGHAM.
WHISSENDINE OPENED AS 'WHISSENDINE LATE WYMONDHAM' 1/9/1848 CLOSED 3/19/1955 TO PASSENGERS & GOODS.
REMAINS AT SITE: SIGNAL BOX IN USE, STATION COTTAGES AS KENNELS, ONE BRICK HUT.
Thanks to Alan Sharkey for sending me the pictures of this medal:
I KNOW IT'S AN AWFUL PICTURE BUT IT'S THE ONLY ONE I HAVE EVER SEEN OF A TRAIN AT WHISSENDINE STATION. A COAL TRAIN
IS HEADING SOUTH BEHIND A KIRTELY 0-6-0 GOODS LOCO, AN EVERDAY SIGHT AROUND 1910 WHEN THIS WAS TAKEN.
THE STATION LOOKING NORTH FROM THE CROSSING AFTER CLOSURE; THE CROSSOVER AND SIDING ARE STILL IN PLACE.
THESE PICTURES WERE TAKEN IN 1981; THE BUILDING WAS DEMOLISHED IN 1983. I ACTUALLY APPROACHED BR WITH AN ENQUIRY
ABOUT BUYING THE STATION BUT I WAS TOLD THAT IT WAS TOO NEAR THE LINE TO BE USED AS A HOUSE. IT'S A SHAME BUT IT WAS
IN A PRETTY POOR STATE SO PERHAPS IT WAS FOR THE BEST. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A VERY LONG WALK TO THE NEAREST PUB TOO!
THE COTTAGES WERE BUILT HERE TO HOUSE RAILWAY WORKERSBECAUSE THE STATION WAS SO FAR FROM THE NEAREST VILLAGE -
WHISSENDINE WAS WELL OVER A MILE AWAY, IN FACT FROM PARTS OF THE VILLAGE ASHWELL STATION WAS CLOSER AND THAT IS
WHERE PEOPLE WENT TO CATCH THE TRAIN TO OAKHAM.
WHISSENDINE SIGNAL BOX SEEMS TO BE AT FIRST GLANCE A MIDLAND BOX WITH A BRICK BASE, WHICH WOULD BE MOST UNUSUAL,
BUT IN FACT IT WAS A 1940 REPLACEMENT BOX WITH THE TOP MOVED FROM ASHWELL JUNCTION WHERE THE BOX HAD NEVER BEEN
COMMISSIONED. WHISSENDINE HAD TWO PREVIOUS BOXES, BOTH STANDING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LEVEL CROSSING AS SHOWN ON THE PLAN.
THE VIEW SOUTH FROM WHISSENDINE SIGNAL BOX IN 1982.
IN APRIL 2008 NOT A LOT HAD CHANGED OTHER THAN NEW SIGNAL BOX WINDOWS. THE RAILWAY HOUSES HAVE BEEN RESTORED AND NOW HOUSE A KENNELS.
JUST TO THE SOUTH OF WHISSENDINE LEVEL CROSSING THE LINE CROSSES A SMALL RIVER.
A MILE FURTHER SOUTH AN UNSURFACED ROAD CROSSES THE LINE.
THIS SHOT WAS TAKEN FROM THE CROSSING IN 1982, 98 MILES FROM ST PANCRAS.