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The Shrewsbury and Hereford railway

(Historic Environment Record number 9412)

The first railway line to be built in Herefordshire was the work of the Shrewsbury & Hereford Railway Company. In 1846 Parliament had sanctioned an Act allowing the new line to be built using the narrow gauge system. The line was to cover a distance of 50.5 miles.

The man appointed engineer of this line was the Liberal MP for Shrewsbury, Mr Henry Robertson. Due to financial problems work on the line did not begin until 1850, when Thomas Brassey took over the project as engineer and agreed to work at his own risk and put up 3.5% of the cost. In 1854 this percentage of the cost was transferred to an eight year lease, which proved to be very profitable for Mr Brassey.

The first section of the line, from Shrewsbury to Ludlow, opened on 21st April 1852 and there was a commemorative luncheon at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms. The Hereford section of the line opened at Barrs Court Station to the east of Hereford City on 6th December 1853, although the line had been used for the transportation of goods since 30th July of that year.

Although 6th December 1853 was chosen as the official day of celebration, the first passenger train to arrive at Hereford Barrs Court Station did so on Saturday 28th October, en route from Shrewsbury. It consisted of two engines, decorated with flags, which carried the Chairman of the Shrewsbury & Hereford Railway Company, Mr Ormsby-Gore, and the railway contractor Thomas Brassey. There were also six first class carriages and a luggage van, which was occupied by a band of musicians. When the train arrived in Hereford the passengers had to disembark at what was to be the site of the station for as yet there were no buildings save an unfinished engine house and a water house. (Cavalcade of a Century, 1832-1932, 100 years of the Hereford Times: Hereford Record Office - BH74: for more information on this occasion, see The "Great Railway Fete".)

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2003]