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The Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford railway

(Historic Environment Record number 9413)

The Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford line had its origins in the Welsh Midland Railway scheme of the 1840s. It gained an Act of Parliament in 1846, which involved the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway buying out three companies that operated the horse-drawn tramway from Hereford to Abergavenny. The terminus of the Newport to Hereford line was to be the Barton Street Station in the east of the city.

The first train arrived in Hereford on 6th December 1853, and took part in joint celebrations with the Shrewsbury & Hereford Railway Company who had also just started running trains into the county (see The "Great Railway Fete").

Over the next 20 years the fortunes of the Newport & Hereford line were mixed and it suffered from financial insecurity. It was helped out by the opening of a Birmingham to Cardiff via Hereford route by the Great Western Railway in 1874, which increased goods and passenger traffic through Barton Street. In 1886, the opening of the Severn Tunnel improved north to west communication and routes were opened up to Penzance and Plymouth in the south-west and Glasgow and Edinburgh in the north. Passenger services now began to run overnight from this small city station.

By the end of the 19th century Barton Street Station itself was considered surplus to requirements and it was closed on 2nd January 1893, with all services now using the Barrs Court Station. In November 1913 the Barton Street Station was demolished. During World War I the north and west route became vital for providing coal for Britain's navy. In the 1960s and 1970s the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford line suffered like many other lines, passenger services declined and intermediate stations were closed.

The stations in Herefordshire on this line were Pontrilas, St Devereux for Kilpeck and the Tram Inn. The Tram Inn Station is a reminder that this line used some of the old horse-drawn tramway, which reached Hereford in 1829. In 1964, at the time of Dr. Beeching and nationalisation, Pontrilas, St Devereux and Tram Inn Station were closed but the line continued to run to Barrs Court Station in Hereford. Pontrilas Station is now used as holiday accommodation, St Devereux as a private house and Tram Inn is now the site of a car salesroom. On 21st June 1997 Pontrilas Timber Merchants began to use the sidings at Pontrilas to bring in supplies and this caused an extension line to be built here in the same year. Today the route from Newport and Abergavenny into Hereford is one of only three railway lines in existence in Herefordshire.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2003]