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The freight-only branch line from Rugby to Southam Cement Works in Warwickshire carried coal traffic until complete closure of the line on 1 August 1985. In the early 1980s I worked at Rugby and travelled daily by train, and being interested in branch lines I asked the Area Manager at Rugby if I could charter a train to cover the branch. This wasn't possible but arrangements were made for 12 of us to travel in the Brake Van of one of the freight workings, and the date selected was 20 December 1983. A freight train derailment at Berkhamsted meant that the branch freight trip didn't run, but our Brake Van trip did, using loco 31288.
The line ran some 10 miles south-westwards from Rugby to Marton Jn, where a reversal was necessary to get to Southam Cement Works, 3 miles further east, just east of the site of Southam & Long Itchington station. On the return trip various photographic stops were made. With just the loco and brake, no run-rounds were performed.
Rugby to Leamington was opened on 1 March 1851 by the L&NWR; Marton Jn to Weedon, on the West Coast Main Line, was opened by the L&NWR on 1 August 1895 (Weedon to Daventry had opened in 1888). Both routes closed to passengers before the Beeching era: Weedon to Leamington on 15 September 1958, Rugby to Leamington on 15 June 1959. Weedon to Southam closed to all traffic as a through route in December 1963; Marton Jn to Leamington closed to all traffic on 4 April 1966, the Rugby - Leamington line having been used until then as a diversionary route during WCML electrification works. The track was lifted between New Bilton, just outside Rugby, and Southam in 1987.
All photos are scans of prints.