Bearley to Alcester Railway

This branch line was opened on September 4th 1876. For most of its length it followed the River Alne and came through Aston Cantlow between the centre of the village and the river.

The best years of the line were between 1900 and 1914 when few people had their own transport and depended on the train for all but the shortest journeys.

In 1917 due to a lack of manpower during the great war of 1914-18 the line was closed on New Year’s Day 1917 and the track lifted for use in France.

After the war the track was relaid and the branch line reopened in two stages with the Bearley to Great Alne section opening in December 1922, with a new timber halt at Aston Cantlow.

In the 1930s you could catch the train at Aston Cantlow Halt at 8:18am and arrive in London Paddington at 11:00, with up to 6 trains a week and the best journey time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. Pretty hard to match even now!

The line closed again for public transport in September 1939 just after the start of the Second World War, but continued to be used for traffic to the newly relocated Maudsley Works at Great Alne.  When it finally ceased operation in July 1944 it was replaced by a bus service and the line officially closed on 1st March 1951.

For a while the line was used to store hundreds of wagons awaiting repair, but these had all been removed by 1956 when the track was finally lifted for the last time.

You can see the line of the track if you go down Chapel Lane and take the footpath heading for the river. You will cross the railway, with a gate on either side, but note that there is no public right of way along this track which goes to the left into Cantella Farm, and to the right up towards where the halt was located. Also, if you take the footpath from Island Meadow across the river heading for Great Alne you wil come across the remains of one of the railway bridges just before you meet the track up to the road. The most obvious evidence of the old railway however is the old Station House at Great Alne which is maintained in the original GWR colours with the platform terrace canopy still being supported by iron brackets bearing the stylised initials of the Alcester Railway.

You can see some great pictures of the old Alcester to Bearley railway and some of its engines at the Warwickshire Railways website.

(Many thanks for material provided by John Platt)