Shropshire Railways History Past and present

                      Shrewsbury to Minsterley

The line first opened in 1861, initially running from Shrewsbury to Minsterley. The following year a new line was built branching off this one, this today being the Shrewsbury to Welshpool line. This new railway joined the existing Cambrian Line from Oswestry to Welshpool at Buttington Junction. Today only the Shrewsbury to Welshpool line exists. At its peak at the turn of the century there were seven daily trains in each direction and one each way on a Sunday. The route took passengers along the attractive Rea Brook Valley and out to Pontesbury, and then onto Minsterley. Many holiday passengers took the opportunity to visit and climb Pontesford Hill which is situated within walking distance of Pontesbury Station. As well as running regular passenger services the line accommodated a substantial amount of freight traffic to serve this rural area, particularly with agricultural goods from the local farming community. There was also the mineral traffic from the mines at Snailbeach. The minerals came to Pontesbury via the narrow gauge Snailbeach District Railway (SDR) before transferring to the mainline. It was this mineral freight traffic which kept the line profitable, not the revenue made from passenger services. As with most steam railways the line was effected by competition from bus companies and services gradually declined from 1919 onwards. During the Second World War the line enjoyed a new lease of life because of petrol shortages. However, as with many other lines, it was the post war coal shortage that had the reverse effect and signaled the beginning of the end for the Minsterley Railway. This combined with road competition saw the line finally close to passenger traffic on 5 th  February 1951. Freight traffic continued to run for a further 16 years until May 1967 and the track was lifted in 1973. The station at Hanwood stayed open after closure, remaining as one of the stops on the Shrewsbury to Welshpool Line. However, all intermediate stations between Shrewsbury and Welshpool closed in 1960, thus Hanwood’s nine year reprieve came to an end. Little remains of the line today sadly, Pontesbury Station House is the best survivor from its operating days, this now being a private residence. There is also a pleasant cycle and walkway as you approach Pontesbury from the east side.  Searching for evidence at the end of the line at Minsterley leaves you very disappointed as nothing remains of the station, part of which is now a meat factory! The story of this line could have been very different if its part in a bigger plan had been carried through; initially it was half planned that this line would eventually reach Montgomery, thus providing another route into Wales. Unfortunately this idea quickly disappeared early on as line made immediate losses when it first opened and failed to make the hoped profits. It is possible that the line may have survived the Beaching Cuts if had reached its intended Welsh Terminal, something today we will never know!
The track approaches Pontesbury from the East