The idea for this Register originated back in March 2013 around the time of the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Reshaping of British Railways, otherwise known as The Beeching Report, in March 1963.
A discussion in my local with friends about the proportion of passenger railways closed under the two respective political parties holding office at the time of the Report's publication and its subsequent implementation led me to check some facts. I fully expected to find a comprehensive list of closures on a dedicated website but, much to my surprise, I was unable to do so.
Turning to existing printed publications I discovered they were not as comprehensive as I had hoped. Lack of mileage, for example, and in some cases indexes, hampered research. It struck me that a website would be an ideal medium in which to collate and present this information.
Out of curiosity, as much as anything else, I began to gather information on closed railways and record it on a spreadsheet. At this stage I had no clear plan what to do with it, though I had an idea that whatever it might be would be a huge undertaking. Indeed it was - nearly seven years later the project finally came to fruition.
The initial research centred around existing publications, specifically Passengers No More, Register of Closed Railways 1948-1991 and Closed Passenger Lines of Great Britain 1827-1947 in conjunction with Cobb’s Historical Railway Atlas and, of course, the indispensable Baker's Rail Atlas Great Britain & Ireland. Later I came across Quick's Closed Passenger Stations of Great Britain, and also Branch Line News on the Branch Line Society's website that has a superb archive of newsletters recording closure dates and reopenings. The excellent Disused Stations website also proved to be invaluable.
Detailed cross-referencing then took place to make sure that each entry had at least two independent sources wherever possible. Not surprisingly, there were many contradictions and anomalies and these involved a great deal of research. Whilst most of the information was relatively easy to find, much was not and a lot of digging was required.
Inevitably there are still many unresolved details and this is where a website comes into its own in allowing a free flow of information and ideas, and it can be continually amended and updated as new information comes to light. To this end, I have highlighted entries where there are question marks, anomalies or where the information is simply lacking.
This last point has proved to be the most vexatious issue to me in respect of the decision of when to go live. How much outstanding work do I consider acceptable? Ideally all avenues of enquiry should have been exhausted beforehand. Indeed, it could be argued that primary sources should have been used rather than gleaning the information from existing publications, but it was obvious that if I had adopted this approach the website would never have seen the light of day. However, it is my intention to explore primary sources where appropriate, once I have completed the initial entries, having identified gaps, contradictions etc. in available information. That should see me usefully employed well into my dotage!
There will, of course, despite my best efforts, be some errors or omissions. I trust there will be many people out there who will have answers, observations (and opinions!) and so I would welcome any information, corrections, updates, suggestions etc. etc.
Initially, the register commenced at 1901, this being determined by the fact that most closures in the 19thC were due to expansion and improvements, not retrenchment. I have subsequently extended the scope back to the earliest recorded permanent closure, in 1830.
Please note: I am aware that some of the information concerning the earlier closures is incorrect, particularly in relation to station locations. Access to more detailed contemporary maps has highlighted this and I am in the process of rectifying these errors. At the same time I am striving to improve the quality and scope of the maps, many of which fall below the standards I would expect. This will take time and, in the meantime, feel free to point out any anomalies. There will no doubt be some I haven't spotted.
Likewise, the register originally covered only to 1994 which reflected the scope of most publications on the subject available at the time. Subsequent acquisitions of Railway Magazine and access to the BLS archive have allowed me to bring the register more up-to-date. It is still incomplete so any information on later closures, especially post 2000, would be most welcome.
1. Section of Line Closed to Passenger Services
The primary purpose of the Register is to record sections of line over which passenger services have been withdrawn, as opposed to the actual services operating, though these are also recorded.
A Section of Line is defined as a distinct line of route physically separate from others and identifiable as such.
Unsurprisingly, as with most railway-related matters, there are grey areas. As a general rule, fast and slow lines are classed as one route, as are realignments, deviations, new tunnels etc., except where significant divergence occurs enough to consider them as separate lines.
Likewise with station relocations, both in the earlier years when the railway network was expanding or, latterly, where it has been common practice to cut back lines at termini, usually to release otherwise valuable land for redevelopment (often with the railway passengers' interests least in mind!). Where the new station is sited independent of the original station or sometimes on a different alignment then this would be included (e.g. Bradford (Forster Square) and Bradford (Exchange/Interchange)). Where it is effectively a shortening of platforms it would not qualify (e.g. Ilkley and Windermere).
In all such instances discretion has had to be used and I have tended to err on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion.
The direction is normally shown from the divergence point to the end of the line in the case of branch lines. On through lines normally the direction is Down i.e. away from the geographical centre/headquarters of the company (usually based on pre-Grouping ownership). Exceptions are where, for example, a service operated in one direction only.
Thus sections of line are identified by the points of divergence (wherever possible – there are exceptions). These fall into several definitions according to the local layout and are listed below.
Jct. – denotes the official (or actual) name of the junction according to various sources (SRS, RCH maps, Cobb Atlas etc.).
(Jct.) – denotes a physical junction or divergence point that is not officially named or identified as such but may, for example, fall within station limits.
(Divergence point) - denotes the point at which a section of line physically diverges but where there is no junction connection at this point. This occurs where a section of line may officially commence at a given station or junction but which then runs parallel with the 'main' line for several chains or even miles, effectively on the same formation or line of route, before physically diverging.
Station name only – denotes a section of line commencing or terminating at said station, i.e. at the end of a branch line or a former through route where the section of line beyond said station has previously closed.
Station name followed by (excl.) – denotes a section of line closed to passengers to/from that station but where said station remained open for passenger services elsewhere.
This also applies to sections of line where the service operated exclusively from a dedicated branch platform (and where the junction station remained open) and was confined to that section of line, i.e. where no services operated over the junction onto the main line. So the section of line would be defined as from the appropriate platform, not the junction, to the end of the line. Such instances are clarified in the Notes.
In addition to the foregoing, the following should be noted:-
Junction – written in full, denotes the actual name of the station bearing this suffix, as distinct from Jct. and (Jct.) above.
Location in [square brackets] – is used additionally to assist identification where a junction name may not bear any obvious clue to its actual location. In such instances the name of the nearest significant town is normally used.
Station and junction names – usually shown as the name applicable at time of closure, bearing in mind that names, especially junction names often changed over time. Many junctions had two or more names concurrently, official and unofficial or local.
Station name (suffixes) – again usually as at closure and bracketed. However, there are exceptions to this and some suffixes are unbracketed where this was generally applied at time of closure and according to timetables and/or actual station name signs. Where there is a conflict bracketing is usually applied.
Multiple Sections of Line - where two or more sections of line are effectively part of the same route they are usually shown as one entry, (e.g. East Grinstead - Horsted Keynes (excl.) and Horsted Keynes Jct. - Culver Jct.), exceptions being where the entry would be as a consequence too unwieldy, (e.g. the former M&GNJR).
Track gauge - unless otherwise stated all lines are standard gauge (4ft. 8½in. or 1,435mm).
Mileage is given in miles and chains, reflecting past and present railway practice. (There are 80 chains to the mile, so 1 chain = 22 yards or 20 metres.)
Unless otherwise stated, mileage is based on Signal Record Society (SRS) RailRef web page records. Other sources, such as Railway Clearing House (RCH) and Airey’s maps, are referenced accordingly. Where no official record has been identified, an OS map distance measuring tool has been used and the entry is recorded with a dagger symbol †. Where mileage is otherwise estimated, it is annotated as such and referenced to a source where applicable.
Occasionally discrepancies do occur between publications. Only significant differences are recorded here, usually of more than about 10c.
3. Passenger Services
A Passenger Service is defined as a scheduled passenger carrying service which is advertised in a public timetable (railway company, Bradshaw's, or local timetable in the case of certain private railways) and which is available for the use of any member of the public. These include regular passenger services operating year-round daily or weekday, weekend or weekly-only (RTS - regular timetabled services), and seasonal, dated services (SDS), such as Summer Saturday only services.
I have included, (or will in time*), railways that were open to the public but which served a specific function or facility, such as the Whittingham Hospital Railway.
Not included are lines that carried a passenger service purely for personnel, workers, contractors etc., an example being the Rosyth Dock line from Inverkeithing. Also excluded are lines built purely for leisure or tourist traffic.
Finally, not included for the purpose of determining a closure are untimetabled special, excursion or workmens’ trains, or diverted services, planned or otherwise. In many instances these trains operated after closure to regular services. They may, however, be referred to in the Notes purely out of interest.
(*This is another complex issue which is admirably dealt with in Quick's RPSGB p503-11. I have to confess that this is an aspect of passenger railway operation I haven't yet fully addressed. Indeed, there is a whole debate to be had as to the definition of a railway as opposed to a tramway, and it isn't necessarily in the name. I have included, for example, the Glyn Valley Tramway which was in practice a railway. I have omitted the Burton & Ashby Light Railway which was, in practice, a tramway, though, to complicate matters further, it was operated by the Midland Railway! Forgive me if, for now, there are some inconsistencies in what lines are or are not included.)
4. Definition of Closure to Passenger Services
Most line closures to passenger services are straightforward, involving the withdrawal of all passenger trains, though not necessarily the complete closure of the line itself.
In some cases, local services were withdrawn, and intermediate stations closed, but the line continued to be used by through passenger trains. Provided these services meet with the definition in 3. Passenger Services above, the recorded closure date would be when the latter service was withdrawn. The earlier local service withdrawal is recorded in the Notes column.
However, some routes were recorded as closed following the withdrawal of all regular timetabled services, but continued to be used, often intermittently over many years, by seasonal dated trains.
The problem is that some of these services appeared in public timetables, others did not. In some instances, they would appear one year and not the next despite still running, or even in one region's timetable and not another. Many would appear only as footnotes, making them difficult to spot. So, short of checking every single printed timetable, there is always the potential for oversight.
Consequently, some lines could be shown as closing several times, initially with the withdrawal of regular timetabled services and then the subsequent withdrawal of seasonal dated services.
This issue is complicated further post-privatisation where there has been an increasing prevalence of short or medium term, or experimental services operating over sections of line normally designated as freight-only. Interestingly this was clearly recognised as an issue with the RAoGB as, from Edition 11 onwards, such routes are designated with a 'dagger' symbol - clearly preferable to attempting to keep pace by switching from red to black, then back to red again!
Because of all this, I have decided to change the criteria for defining closure to passenger services in relation to seasonal dated trains. Closure will now be determined only by the withdrawal of regular passenger trains (RTS - regular timetabled service), ‘regular’ being defined as year-round, permanent, indefinite (‘perennial’) services. Where seasonal dated trains (SDS) continued to run, this will be recorded in the Notes section. When such services ceased to run the date recorded will be when the last train ran. Of course, the same applies to stations in similar circumstances, a good example being Winchester (Chesil) - see Enborne Jct. [Newbury] - Shawford Jct. [Winchester].
Finally, temporary closures for engineering works, planned or emergency, are not normally included, except for conversion to light rail or 'Metro'.
(One issue intentionally omitted, for now, is the legal aspect of closures. Prior to the 1947 Transport Act there was no procedure as such, though it was possible to mount a legal challenge - see Rail Chronology:Pre-Nationalisation rail passenger service withdrawal process for a more detailed account and some interesting examples. Only with the 1947 TA and the creation of the the Central Transport Consultative Committee (CTCC) and the regional Transport Users’ Consultative Committees (TUCC) was a closure procedure developed, whereby objections to proposed closures could be formally lodged. This was modified with subsequent Acts, (often from bitter experience!), namely those of 1953, 1962 and 1968. Much has changed since with the advent of privatisation. I intend to cover this important aspect of rail passenger closures in due course.)
5. Closure Days and Dates
As a general rule, the closure date recorded is the “closed on and from” date. That is, the first day after the last train ran on which a service would have operated. The last day of service would usually be a Friday, Saturday or Sunday depending on the service operating at the time.
There are instances where the closure date is recorded as a weekday. (This was often a consequence of the common practice up to the early 1920s of closures taking place on the first day of the month, regardless of the day of the week.) Where, for instance, the last train ran on a Tuesday, the closure is recorded on and from the Wednesday, as a service would have run on that day. By the same token, in some instances a Sunday is recorded as the official closure date where a Sunday service was operating at the time of closure, but the last train ran on the Saturday, the day before.
Unfortunately, there is no consistency with official dates and it would appear that what was recorded was often down to the individuals doing the recording. Some companies had their own system. The Southern Railway, for example, were in the habit of recording Sunday as the closure date, regardless of whether or not a Sunday service was in operation at the time.
Indeed, the very term ‘official closure date’ is debatable. Undoubtedly railway companies and subsequently BR kept their own records, but how consistent and accessible they were is open to question.
In some cases, the date recorded was the date the last train ran. This could occur in instances where lines fell out of use for passenger trains, in particular sections of line such as ‘curves’ that had no intermediate stations. These were usually subsequently ratified with an official closure date.
Finally, a recorded closure date could be purely for administrative and/or legal purposes and apply some time, often years, after the last train ran. This could occur following temporary closure due to wartime measures or industrial or fuel crises, for example, where closure subsequently became permanent. This could also apply to lines closed prematurely, due to bomb damage or flooding, for example. Also, as mentioned above, where lines had fallen out of use. It also occurred in the 1980s when BR's interpretation of the provisions of the Transport Act 1962 relating to service withdrawals was somewhat liberal and often legally challenged - (see Wortley West Jct. - Wortley South Jct.).
So it comes as no surprise that inconsistencies exist in various publications and websites, often reflecting the official records (or lack of them). Consequently, I have decided to apply the “on and from” principle as standard for the website where it can be supported with documentary evidence, such as timetables. Where this is at variance with other sources and publications, it will be recorded in the Notes section. One exception to the foregoing is in the albeit rare instance of the cessation of seasonal dated trains over a section of line that never had a regular timetabled passenger service, in which case the closure date would be when the last train ran.
The following abbreviations are used throughout the site: -
ACD – actual closure date – this is the standard term for most closures, reflecting what happened in practice, whether ‘official’ or otherwise and will follow the ‘on and from’ principle explained above.
TCD – temporary closure date – used in cases where lines were temporarily closed for whatever reason, (e.g. wartime economy measures, fuel or industrial crisis, flooding), usually followed by
RO – reopening – date on which passenger services were resumed, or
OCD – official closure date – the date recorded ‘on paper’ for administrative and/or legal purposes to ratify an earlier temporary closure or instances where lines had fallen out of passenger use for various reasons.
CL - closed - at risk of complicating matters further, this is used where lines have closed and then reopened for a variety of reasons, but where it is unclear if the closure was intended to be temporary. This is particularly the case where lines and their parent companies, often in their early years, struggled financially.
LTR – last train ran - denotes the last date a passenger service operated. As noted above, this is not normally used to record a closure date but is used in conjunction with an ACD or OCD. An exception would be the rare instance of the cessation of seasonal dated trains over a section of line that never had a regular timetabled passenger service.
6. Stations Closed
This column lists all stations on the section of line closed. Where no date is shown the station closed on the same day as the line of route. Earlier closure dates are shown in brackets.
Where a junction station closed at the same time as the route in question, this has been included for completeness.
I have linked those stations that feature in the excellent Disused Stations website where much more detailed information can be obtained.
Again, please note closed stations on sections of line that are still open to passenger services are not included on this website, except in cases where lines have been closed and subsequently reopened to passenger traffic.
7. Service(s) Operated and Timetable Reference
The service operating at, or as near as possible to the time of closure is recorded.
Principle services are recorded covering originating and destination stations, not necessarily, of course, on the line in question being closed. Where a multiplicity of (usually) dated seasonal trains from/to a variety of stations were operating, for simplicity these may be summarised as “various”.
The timetable reference refers to the actual timetable from which the service is quoted. B refers to Bradshaws followed by the number of that particular edition and the date.
8. Cobb Atlas Reference
The map references follow the Ordnance Survey National Grid practice of Easting followed by Northing.
As access to the Cobb atlas is likely to be far from universal, I have decided to also show the OS map grid references. These will be added as time permits.
9. Present Status
This records the present physical state of the section of line under five headings:-
Dismantled - where the section of line has been disposed of since closure. This would include removal of track and signalling equipment, change of ownership and use, through to 'returning to nature' or complete demolition.
Disused - where a section of line has been closed but left largely intact, often pending disposal or a decision on future use, including reopening.
Freight - where a section of line continues in use for freight traffic, also including departmental use, test tracks etc. and diversionary passenger traffic.
Reopened - where a line has been reopened for regular timetabled passenger services.
Preserved - where a line has been reopened as a preserved, 'heritage' railway.
N.B. This section is a recent addition and is still being worked on. Consequently its appearance will be sporadic until the task of entering has been completed.
The maps used are primarily Railway Clearing House maps, mostly dating from the early 20thC.
They are for illustration purposes only to highlight the section of line in question and, whilst every attempt will be made to do so, they are not intended as accurate historical records. So, for example, where a closure pre-dates the map and consequently stations or, in some cases, lines are not shown, I have annotated the RCH map accordingly.
In many instances I have used OS maps where no suitable RCH map is available. This is particularly the case with the more recently added 19thC closures, where sections of line were generally short (station relocations, extensions etc.) and do not tend to feature in enough detail or, indeed, at all on the RCH maps.
It is worth adding that, especially in the case of OS maps and earlier closure dates, the highlighted route may often seem at odds with the track layout shown on the map. This is due primarily to the fact that most maps used post-date the closure and track layouts have been altered subsequently. Furthermore, the original alignment of the section of line is often speculative in the absence of any detailed contemporary track plans.
Ideally OS maps would be used throughout, as they provide much more detail. Unfortunately, on sections of line of more than about a mile, the map becomes too unwieldy and the definition is poor.
I have also produced my own maps where appropriate or necessary.
A zoom facility allows the maps to be enlarged to full-page size for greater clarity.
I am more than happy for the maps and any other material to be used for other websites, publications etc. Most of the information for this website has been obtained from other publications etc. but, in recognition of this, I do acknowledge the source wherever possible. I appreciate that most of the maps, RCH in particular, are out of copyright, but it has come to my notice that maps have been taken from this website including my own highlights, annotations etc. and used elsewhere. The legal implications, if any, are of no concern to me. All I ask is that, out of common courtesy, this website is acknowledged as the source. Thank you.
Any matters of clarification, explanation, general interest etc. are included here.
In the longer term I hope to include photographs that are of particular interest and relevance. Last day of service photos would be of particular interest.
I also intend to include any articles of interest from publications such as Railway Magazine.
13. Search Facility
As mentioned on the Home page, a keyword search facility has been provided to assist in identifying lines of route by name. As this feature will identify any line that includes the word entered, the more specific the word the better. Thus an intermediate station on the line in question is guaranteed to produce a result. On lines with no intermediate stations, a junction or a junction station (from which a service operated but remained open e.g. Alne (excl.) - Easingwold) at either end of the route will suffice. Entering a name associated with the train service operating at the time of closure should also give a result, though this is not guaranteed..
A date search and list by year is also provided.
If any problems or anomalies are encountered, please contact me accordingly.
The following is a list of abbreviations used throughout the website:
ACD - actual closure date - see 5. Closure Days and Dates.
B - Bradshaw's - followed by edition number and/or month & year
BLN - Branch Line News - newsletter of the Branch Line Society (BLS)
C - Clinker (inc. LNWR Chronology 1900-1961)
CL - closed - see 5. Closure Days and Dates.
CPLGB - Closed Passenger Lines of Great Britain
DRS - Directory of Railway Stations
DSW - Disused Stations website
LTR - last train ran - see 5. Closure Days and Dates.
NLS - National Library of Scotland
OCD - official closure date - see 5. Closure Days and Dates.
OP - Oakwood Press
OPD - opening date
PCD - permanent closure date (not necessarily actual or official!)
PNM - Passengers No More
PSUL - Passenger Train Services over Unusual Lines - Branch Line Society publications
RAGB - Rail Atlas Great Britain and Ireland
RCH - Railway Clearing House maps
CW - Central Wales District
C&W - Cumberland & Westmorland Districts
D - Durham & Northumberland Districts
D&N - Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Districts
EE - East of England
E&G - Edinburgh & Glasgow District
GC&P - Glasgow Coatbridge & Paisley District
G&O - Gloucestershire & Oxfordshire Districts
L - London and Its Environs
L&C - Lancashire & Cheshire Districts
M - Manchester & District
NW - North Wales District
S - Staffordshire & District
Sc - Scotland
SE - South of England
SW - South Wales
WE - West of England
Y - Yorkshire District
YN - Yorkshire District (north sheet)
YS - Yorkshire District (south sheet)
RHRGB - A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - David & Charles
RJD - Railway Junction Diagrams - RCH
RM - Railway Magazine
RMS - Railway Map of Scotland - Airey's
RO - reopened
RoCR - Register of Closed Railways 1948-1991
RPSGB - Railway Passenger Stations of Great Britain
RR - SRS RailRef Line Codes
RTS - regular timetabled services
SDS - seasonal dated services
SRCR(A) - A Southern Region Chronology and Record 1803-1965 X13 OP 1964 (Appendix 1975)
TCD - temporary closure date - see 5. Closure Days and Dates.
Bradshaw's - numerous timetables referenced individually throughout.
Branch Line Society - website. I would strongly recommend membership; excellent value with access to the entire BLN archive from the first issue in 1955.
British Railway Stations 1825 - 1900 An Essential Gazeteer - P. Smith & S. Salmon; Unique Books.
Closed Passenger Lines of Great Britain 1827-1947 - M. Greville & J. Spence; Railway & Canal Historical Society 1974.
David & Charles - numerous publications referenced individually throughout.
The Directory of Railway Stations - R. Butt; Patrick Stephens Ltd. 1995.
Disused Stations - website
Last Trains - C. Loft; Biteback 2013.
National Library of Scotland - website
National Railway Museum - Search Engine facility, NRM, York.
Oakwood Press - numerous publications referenced individually throughout.
Passengers No More - G. Daniels & L. Dench; Ian Allan 3rd Edition 1980.
Rail Atlas Great Britain and Ireland - S. K. Baker; OPC Editions 1-15.
Rail Chronology - website.
Railway Clearing House - maps and publications.
Railway Passenger Stations of Great Britain - M. Quick; Railway & Canal Historical Society 4th Edition 2009 (5th Edition available on-line through RCHS website).
Register of Closed Passenger Stations and Goods Depots in England Scotland and Wales - C. Clinker; Clinker June 1966 onwards.
Register of Closed Railways 1948-1991 - G. Hurst; Milepost 1992.
Scottish Branch Lines 1955 - 1965 - C. J. Gammell; OPC 1989.
Signalling Record Society - website
Finally, and by no means least, I must again thank Ffion Atkinson, webpage designer (ffionatkinson.co.uk), for her excellent work in building this website.