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Published by membersonly, 2019-04-03 16:36:55


6th April 2019




Wednesday April 10th 2019

1898 OS map extract reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The histories of the three lines featuring in our walk are complex and inextricably linked. In
April 1790 a meeting in Kington proposed that the Leominster Canal from Stourport-on-
Severn be extended to the town to bring Staffordshire coal there. Parliament authorised this
in 1803 but the canal was only ever completed from Mamble to Leominster. Meanwhile the
3’6” gauge horse drawn Hay Railway (HR) linking Hay with the Brecknock & Abergavenny
Canal at Brecon was authorised in 1811 and opened in May 1816. This encouraged the
promotion of a similar railway serving Kington and an Act of Parliament was passed on 23
May 1818. In turn this encouraged the completion of an already partly built extension of the
HR to Eardisley which opened in December 1818. The Kington Railway (KR), aka Tramway
or Tramroad, made an end-on junction with it from 1 May 1820 with an extension westward
from Kington to quarries at Burlinjobb opened 14 weeks later giving a combined length of no
less than 36 miles!
The first standard gauge (and loco hauled) railway in the area was the Leominster & Kington
(L&KR), opened on 27 July 1857, seriously reducing traffic on the KR, The Hereford Hay &
Brecon Railway (HH&BR) obtained its Act on 1 August 1859 for a route roughly paralleling
the HR between Eardisley and Hay. A further Act of 6 August 1860 enabled it to purchase

Course of Kington Railway at Crooked Well, western outskirts of Kington, October 2017

the HR which would further adversely affect the KR by cutting its direct link with Brecon. The
HH&BR did also make an offer to purchase the KR but this was rejected in favour of another
from Thomas Savin on behalf of the proposed Kington & Eardisley Railway (K&ER) which
was enshrined in law by the K&ER’s Act of 30 June 1862. The K&ER was also empowered
to incorporate sections of the KR in its own route where required; however, contrary to what
is often supposed, only one stretch of about 1½ miles between Lyonshall and Almeley
actually was, well to the south of our walk today. It is said that stone sleeper blocks are
incorporated in the road underbridge abutments by Almeley station but these are today well
concealed by ivy. The KR may have been carried construction materials for the new line
initially but its Kington – Eardisley section seems to have gradually fallen into disuse; its date
of final closure is unknown.

Kington Railway trackbed, Lyonshall Park Wood, October 2018

A Kington Railway sleeper block October 2018

Following difficulties in raising capital. the K&ER (a misnomer as it relied on running powers
over the L&KR between Kington and Titley Junction) finally opened on 3 August 1874. As
with the KR before it, a more lucrative western extension followed, this time to New Radnor
from 25 September 1875 bringing the closure of the KR’s Kington – Burlinjobb section.
However the K&ER’s original 7 mile Titley to Eardisley section became a very lightly used
backwater largely as a result of railway politics. Despite the junctions with the L&KR and
HH&BR respectively at either end, both facing westwards to suit through running from
Kington to Hay, this never happened as the K&ER was worked from the outset by the Great
Western Railway (GWR) and purchased by it in 1897. The GWR also absorbed the L&KR
the following year, whereas the HH&BR was leased by the rival Midland Railway (MR) from
1874 and absorbed by it in 1876. Running powers were therefore required over the short
section of MR metals between junction and station at Eardisley. Service connections were
very poor there, but of course much better at Titley and the quarry traffic from west of
Kington was generally routed via Leominster. The line in effect only served small villages
with little traffic potential. It was an obvious candidate for temporary closure when economies
were sought during World War I and along with many others this took effect from 1 January
1917 with the track being lifted almost immediately and sent overseas; whether it arrived
safely is uncertain. With some reluctance the GWR relaid it and carried out other
improvements in 1922 (the still extant keeper’s house at Almeley Crossing dates from this
period) and the Titley – Almeley section through Lyonshall reopened for freight on 18
September of that year, passenger traffic resuming when Almeley – Eardisley reopened 12
weeks later though it was 4 days before anyone purchased an Eardisley – Lyonshall 3rrd
class single ticket!.

Nevertheless the year following reopening was the most successful in the line’s history but
traffic soon fell away again and by 1925 income was little more than half of expenditure.
Closure was proposed in 1930 at a time when quite a number of lines actually did close but
somehow it survived until 1 July 1940 when all traffic ceased with World War II at its height.

This is always regarded as the permanent closure date and again the track was soon lifted,
yet the pointwork at either end remained intact for some years and the branch still appeared
in passenger timetables with the optimistic endorsement “Service Suspended” at least until
nationalisation in 1948.

Lyonshall station looking towards Titley, 5 April 1958

The L&KR continued to operate until 5 February 1951 when passenger services were
suspended during a coal shortage. They resumed 8 weeks later but were permanently
withdrawn from 7 February 1955 having lost out to bus competition in a fares war. Titley
Junction closed to freight traffic from 6 July 1959 and the line closed completely from 28
September 1964.
We begin by tracing the course of the KR through Kington town, heading west to Floodgates
where both it and the later K&ER New Radnor line are now buried beneath the A44 bypass.
Some of what remains is private land but it is mostly a tarmacked lane which we follow back
to Sunset Bridge where a staircase is the only relic of Kington’s second passenger station,
opened in 1875 with the K&ER’s westward extension. However the L&KR terminus which it
replaced survived as a goods depot and is still well preserved and in business use. From
Sunset the KR has been converted into an access road as far as Waterloo Bridge where we
cross the (dirty old?) River Arrow. The present span replaced the KR original in 1976. The
road ends shortly after and we continue along the trackbed on a ledge above the river. A
short detour on to another road is necessary before rejoining the trackbed in Lyonshall Park
Wood and following it to the parish church; numerous stone sleepers remain on this section.
The tramway passed below the church and crossed the main road here before running
beside the driveway of what is now Lynhales estate. We leave it and walk down the road
towards Lyonshall village. The K&ER station dominates it, standing high on the embankment
side with a typically impressive GWR avenue of mature conifers opposite. We take a public
footpath which runs along the foot of the embankment (a brief visit to the station platform,
still in excellent condition, may be possible; the owners are friendly!) and follow this back to

the main road. Crossing this we follow minor roads with a brief detour for a short out and
back walk with permission along an isolated clear section of trackbed before continuing
along the road to Titley Junction. Here the K&ER curved sharply southwards immediately at
the east end of the platforms, resulting in the surviving bridge abutments being of quadruple
track width, an odd sight on a remote country lane!

Titley Junction station, October 2017

The station building here has been restored and, with the support of a team of volunteers,
track has been relaid on the L&KR for nearly ¾ mile westward as far as the removed River
Arrow bridge. A collection of rolling stock and lineside structures has also been assembled.
Known as the Kingfisher Line, the site is only occasionally open to the public and time would
not allow us to visit it today anyway, but we can see much of it from the public footpath which
closely follows the south east (Down) side of the line. On reaching the river it swings away
and leads us back to the Lyonshall Park Road. We follow this westwards to the former L&KR
level crossing at Bullocks Mill. The crossing keeper’s cottage here is in good condition and
has latterly been used as holiday accommodation. An adjacent fence post utilizes a section
of recycled Barlow rail.
From here we follow the standard gauge trackbed back to Kington, using adjacent public
footpaths where necessary and possibly spotting the concrete post of Kington’s Down
Distant signal lying by the line. The final approach to the town gives good views of the first
passenger station and the site of the second as mentioned above.

Bullocks Mill crossing keeper’s house October 2018
Kington goods shed and original passenger station building, October 2017

Kington Down Distant signal post October 2018

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