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The Abandoned Wye Valley Railway

Closed to passengers in 1959, the line idled on for freight until 1964. For three years the line lay abandoned following this, and then track lifting commenced, leaving just two miles of railway from Wye Valley Junction to Tintern Quarry, and around thirteen miles of dismantled railway.

Abandonment overtook even this stretch, and now the railway lies silent. Sleepers remain marked up for replacement as they were in 1981 and 1990. Tidenham station is quiet now with no signs of rails, while Netherhope is gone from the scene, steps ending about two feet above track level. Tidenham Tunnel lies through Dennel Hill, ghostly, dark, and forlorn, with a cold breeze blowing and silent, rusty rails leading in at the southern end and out to a large stone blocking the rails at the northern. The quarry sidings are overgrown and partially lifted, and Tintern Quarry North groundframe no longer moves the points - a bufferstop south of the quarry looks like it wouldn't stop a runaway pram, and for many years the line ended in a gorsebush with a burnt out car which vanished just before we got round to taking its picture...


Snipe Hill Bridge

Welcome to the Wye Valley Railway. This first view shows the southern end of the line, looking north (or, to be more precise, north east). The railway is now popular with gorse, brambles and trees and has two options - revert to being a railway again or become a nature reserve. A lovely winter's day. December 28th, 2004

A48 Bridge

Lots of people drive under this bridge, you know.... Would you do so so happily now you've seen this picture? Actually, the bridge is quite safe, as our research team walked across it, came back and two weeks later it was still there. This photo is looking north. Tidenham station is beyond the trees. Under the bridge, about twenty feet below, is the A48. 2nd October, 2005

Tidenham station

"They do say that there used to be a railway in here, sir, and a station too, and it was in use less than fifty years ago". Tidenham station south throat, taken from a pile of rubble. Despite threatening rumours of a cycle track earlier this year, this is yet to appear, and, looking at this view, probably with good reason. Some people are trying to get some happy little weeds between the rails on lesser used lines "weedkillered" out of existence and publish pictures in magazines to encourage this. Tidenham station is probably now a bit past such things and sadly can't be used as a headshunt for turning around weedkilling trains since it is no longer connected to the mainline. Originally an attractive little wayside station, subsequent quarry development has eliminated all the old buildings and (from the wording of their plans) apparently left its cycling owners unaware of its history. 2nd October, 2005

North of Tidenham

Curiously, as the loading bays for Dayhouse Quarry were located at Tidenham Station, it seems to have been decided at some point to take advantage of the double-track cutting immediately to the north of the station and install a second line. This provides a lengthy section of double-track railway which was presumably used for stabling longer stone trains. There is a little area where it has access to the northern end of the quarry as well. The track layout in the area had a complex career. Originally Tidenham station had a loop for goods trains but this was converted into a siding accessible only from the north end in 1952 before being removed altogether in 1955. In 1968 it was re-instated but was converted back into a siding in 1981 (but with the link now at the south end). The new loop here was provided instead. As a result the (original) line on the left has old wooden sleepers with bullhead rail and chairs while the (newer) line on the right has concrete sleepers with flat-bottomed rail and track clips. At some point the track between the station and the end of the loop was lifted. 11 April, 2007.

Bishton Bridge

Bishton Bridge, between Tidenham and Netherhope, looks better these days than it has done in the past. It is still held up by big bits of metal, but its death sentence has been commuted by Sustrans and some work was done in 2006, involving chopping down the trees around it and knocking the broken coping stones off the top of the bridge, before finally planting some more trees on the cutting sides and covering the line in exciting rubbish. This picture was taken looking north; just behind the camera was the end of the line once the route north of Tidenham was mothballed. This was denoted by a sleeper tied to the rails which is now completely overgrown. 11 April 2007

Netherhope Halt

"Now where did I leave Netherhope Halt? I'm sure it was down there somewhere." The halt was demolished in the mid 1970s, probably to save on providing a new edging, and the line was taken out of use in 1981, leaving this impressive view from the Netherhope Lane overbridge, looking south, of a wide bank of trees between two fields. In there somewhere is the single track branchline. So much for a world shortage of plants. Honest, it's not summer. 2nd October, 2005

Tintern Quarry (1)

More recently, work around Tintern Quarry has caused some minor problems, including this level crossing (which has certainly not been approved by the relevant railway safety authorities and is therefore illegal. Note the complete absence of signs warning crossing users of the potential unexpected appearance of trains). Oddly, some rails have been lifted nearby but the track remains intact over the crossing. This view is looking north towards the end of the line. In the following two years the buddleia prospered and the line is now blocked at this point. Credit must be given to whoever it was who finally created conditions in the Wye Valley for this pink-flowering weed to breed happily. 11 April, 2007

Tintern Quarry (2)

The northern end of the line on a warm day, looking south. Just north of here, the rails end without warning in what looks like a warm spot in a quiet corner of the world. Three hundred yards away to the south is Tintern Quarry and three hundred yards to the west on the other bank of the river is a well-hidden quarry that remained in use for some years into the 21st century. The line ahead has now had a ballast road bulldozed across it. Sometime in May, 2004

Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway

I wouldn't worry actually, it's what all the abandoned lines look like these days. This is the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, South Wales, owners of Britain's highest standard gauge station. On the left - yes, that flat area on the left of the cycleway - is the railway. Re-opening was at the time a long-held wish and had been fairly imminent since about 1983. 16th October, 2005
Well, it is what all abandoned lines look like, but that part of the Pontypool and Blaenavon is no longer abandoned. The bushes seen on the line in the above view are now decidedly extinct and, with only a team of volunteers working on occasional weekends, excellent progress was made on clearing, relaying and rebuilding a line abandoned since the 1980s and heavily populated with collapsing bridges. It reopened to heritage trains in May 2010 and is seen here soon after as 73128 heads up the bank from Blaenavon High Level towards Blaenavon Furnace Sidings and Whistle Inn. The "Development" pages on the railway's website are something of an inspiration to all those looking at rebuildings such lines. 18 July, 2010

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Last modified 15/04/11

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