From Saturday 4th March to Sunday 12th March, Shropshire Railway Society is joining forces with the Shrewsbury Railway Heritage Trust to commemorate a series of events.
These include the end of regular British Railways steam working in the county 50 years ago, with the closure of the Coleham Locomotive Sheds to steam locomotives; the end of the London Paddington to Birkenhead ‘through train service’ and the end of steam along the Cambrian line – especially the last “Cambrian Coast Express”.
Many people will remember the much-loved part of Shrewsbury known as the ‘back of the sheds’; as well as the trains that ran from Shrewsbury prior to 1967, including the last ‘mile a minute’ by steam on BR between Shrewsbury & Gobowen in February 1967 hauled by locos that would soon be sent for scrap.
The North to West trains that ran from Manchester to Cardiff and Plymouth would change from GW to LM locomotives at Shrewsbury and then they would be serviced on Shrewsbury sheds. Many people remember the steam trains that worked from here to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli, plus the branch lines such as the Severn Valley line that closed in 1963. All were served by Shrewsbury Sheds.
Shrewsbury’s railways were the largest employer in the town in the 1950s and 1960s, the second being The Sentinel works. There were many railway related families living around the town. Local historians and well established Salopians, will recall that this large site, now occupied by a cinema, public house, car dealer, supermarket and the much used Abbey Foregate car park, was once a workplace for hundreds of railway staff, a very busy railway site.
Diesels were stabled and fuelled on the shed site until 1970, and scrap steam locos were stored here en-route to their breakers yards in South Wales, and the sheds were demolished in 1971. People will also recall that the area became home to a number of local vehicle maintenance businesses, including Vincent Greenhous; F&K Griffiths; Cliff Pritchard, and many others. The sheds site lay derelict until the development of the business park in Brassey Way and the area along Old Potts Way that developed in the late 1990s. Being completely transformed, when Shropshire County Council constructed a new road through Longden Coleham; built a new road, linking the Column and Meole Brace, and regenerated the site, providing a home for several new and local businesses.
David Morris, Director of Shrewsbury Railway Heritage Trust said: “Anybody even remotely interested in Shrewsbury’s history, will now have to a put a ‘Must See’ event entry into their diary for March 2017! There will be a display of photographs from the late Russell Mulford’s Collection (courtesy of Shropshire Railway Society, and also some images that have not been seen before by the general public, taken by the late Mike Embrey of Shrewsbury. I knew Mike Embrey very well, and although the vast collection of photographs which the Shropshire Railway Society holds is incredibly impressive, with the recent addition of Mike’s archive, visitors to the exhibition are going to be able to see some unique views of the ‘sheds area’.
“This will not just be an exhibition of railway memorabilia; it will be a ‘must see’ event for literally anybody, young or old, who is interested in this important period of Shrewsbury’s history.”
The exhibition will run every day between the 12pm and 4pm weekdays; and 10am to 4pm on weekends. Entry and viewing is entirely free of charge, and it will be staffed by local railway historians, and volunteers who will be on hand and more than happy to answer questions.