Shropshire Star

Shrewsbury's rail role celebrated in new book

Shrewsbury's role as a railway hub is celebrated in a new book of photographs taking readers on a pictorial journey from 1974 to 2012.

Opening the gates at Trench Crossing railway station during the Branch Line Society's "The Donnington Farewell" rail tour on July 6, 1991.

Compiled by lifelong railways enthusiast Peter Green, 'Rails From Shrewsbury' throws the spotlight on lines radiating from the county town, with most of the photos dating from the 1980s and 1990s, with Peter having been keen to capture the railway centre on film before things changed too much.

Peter Green

Peter's interest in railways began in 1959 during a holiday near the former Great Western main line in Devon. At first he was a young trainspotter, his hobby being about collecting numbers which were then crossed off in his Ian Allan Locospotters' books.

However, encouraged by his father, who was a keen photographer, he soon began taking photos of his favourite locomotives – steam locos initially, but quickly expanding to include diesels, signalling, and railway infrastructure.

Peter, who is from Worcester, writes in the introduction: "He was also a very enthusiastic gardener and liked to visit the Shrewsbury Flower Show each year. On a number of occasions I went with him on these visits.

A Super Sprinter pauses at Bucknell station on May 28, 2000.

"It then occurred to me that it would be good to spend a day at Shrewsbury railway station,"

"One day in the early 1960s we set off in the family car to Shrewsbury where I and a trainspotter friend of mine were duly deposited at the railway station for the day. This was to be the first of the many visits I was to make to Shrewsbury for its railways."

That was in the days of steam, and it was not until the 1970s that he again visited Shrewsbury for its railways, when the attraction was frequent steam-hauled special trains running on the Welsh Marches line between Newport and Chester.

"Glo Cymru" takes the line at Shrewsbury to Sutton Bridge Junction with a train of empty coal containers on December 19, 1987.

"As my interest in photographing the modern scene increased in the early 1980s, I began to visit Shrewsbury much more frequently, anxious to capture a fascinating railway centre on film before things changed too much," he writes. "Lines from Chester, Crewe, Wolverhampton and Hereford converged at Shrewsbury, so there was no shortage of activity and a good variety of motive power."

Each of the lines which joined at Shrewsbury had its own character and all featured semaphore signalling.

Former passenger lines, such as the Blodwell Quarry line from Gobowen, the Donnington line from Wellington, and the line to Ironbridge Power Station, were by then used only for freight traffic.

"Class 37 diesel-electric locomotives took over services on the former Cambrian line to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli in the 1980s and soon became a common sight on passenger trains to Wolverhampton, and on the Welsh Marches line. This increased the appeal of the area even more for me, the class being a particular favourite of mine."

The book includes chapters featuring local heritage steam lines such as the Severn Valley Railway and Telford Steam Railway, and preservation projects.

Rails From Shrewsbury

Rails From Shrewsbury includes over 260 previously unpublished photographs and is published by Pen & Sword Books. It is hardback and costs £25.