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18th Sep, 2021

Builders uncover little bit of railway history by development

Ross Crawford 23rd Jul, 2021

BUILDERS working on a new housing development opposite the Roebuck pub on Birmingham Road in Alcester uncovered a little bit of history when their works revealed an old railway bridge.

The bridge, said Redditch railway expert Philip Jarvis, was part of a branch line that connected Alcester with Great Alne, Aston Cantlow on to Brearley and Hatton from there on to Stratford on Avon and the main line.

And astonishingly its rails are said to lie at the bottom of the English Channel – after a ship transporting them to help with the war effort in the First World War was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat.

“Construction began back in 1874,” said Philip, “and it was officially opened in 1883 with the line closing in 1960.”

The line was operated by Great Western in the heyday of British railways.

“I remember as a youngster learning to drive and it was a really steeped humped back bridge there,” said Philip.

“You can still see where the old station was in Great Alne, although it is now a private residence, and there was a level crossing there.”

During the First World War the tracks were lifted to be transported to France but the tale is they never made it.

Following the Armistice in 1918 the line was eventually re-opened in 1923 although in shortened form, going little further than Great Alne.

During the Second World War the line was used as sidings for rolling stock but its closure came before the much lamented Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

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