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Bradshaw’s Guide

Didcot to Oxford, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Chester, Birkenhead and Manchester

Great Western Main Line

Didcot to Oxford

After passing a small and uninteresting village called Appleford, we come to a lofty embankment, from which some expansive and diversified views of the surrounding country are obtained. One mile further is the station of

Oxfordshire : Abingdon

A small parliamentary town in Berks, with about 5,680 inhabitants, returning one member.

About three miles beyond Culham, we come in sight of Bagley Wood, seen to the left of the line, and soon after the little church of Sandford is observed peering through the trees to the right, and the Asylum at Littlemore. A brief view of hills, a rapid glimpse of vallies, reined with pleasant streams, and studded with picturesque masses of woodland, a prolonged whistle from the engine, and a sudden whirl under a lofty, elegant portico, and we are at

Oxfordshire : Oxford

Oxford is the capital of the rich midland county of the same name, and one of the most ancient cities of England.

A short line of 11¾ miles turns off to the left, passing the stations of Yarnton, Eynsham and South Leigh, to the town of Witney, a telegraph station, and celebrated for its manufacture of blankets.

Oxford to Birmingham and Wolverhampton

Oxfordshire : Woodstock Road

Great historical interest attaches to this place, as having been occasionally the residence of Henrys I. and II.

Kirtlington, Heyford, Somerton, and Aynho stations.

Oxfordshire : Banbury

Banbury is situated on the river Cherwell; the navigable canal from Coventry to Oxford passes by this town.

Cropredy, Fenny Compton, and Southam Road, and Harbury stations.

Warwickshire : Leamington

A large and handsome town is proverbial for being better paved, lighted, and regulated, than any other town of its size in the kingdom

Warwickshire : Warwick

A dull town, in the county of Warwick.

Hatton.

A short line, 8¼ miles long, here turns off to the left, running via Claverdon, Bearley and Wilmcote, to

Warwickshire : Stratford-upon-Avon

This interesting part of Warwickshire is directly accessible by a branch of the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton line, by which means it is within, about 100 miles journey by rail from London.

Kingswood, Knowle, Solihull, Acock’s Green and Bordesley stations.

Warwickshire : Birmingham

This is the great centre of the manufactured metal trades, being situated in North Warwickshire, on the border of the South Staffordshire iron and coal district.

Hockley, Soho (junction of the Stour Valley Line), Handsworth, West Bromwich, and Swan Village stations.

Staffordshire : Wednesbury

This is a very old market town, having a population of 15,298, almost entirely engaged in the iron trade — every description of cast-iron work being done here.

Staffordshire : Bilston

This place forms a great centre of the iron trade, and has become one of growing importance.

Priestfield station.

Staffordshire : Wolverhampton

This ancient town, which in Saxon times was noted for its college, founded by Wulfruna, sister of King Egbert, and thence called Wulfrunes-hampton.

Before proceeding further North, we will retrace our journey to Oxford, and introduce our traveller to some of the scenes of Shakspeare.

Great Western Main Line continued

Codsall and Albrighton stations.

Oakengates station.

Shropshire : Wellington

Situated between the canal and Watling Street, from which it derives its name ( Watling-town).

Admaston, Walcot and Upton Magna stations.

Shropshire : Shrewsbury

This fine old capital of Shropshire, and parliamentary town, is 42 miles beyond Birmingham.

Shresbury and Chester Railway

To the tourist, this line of railway holds out peculiar attractions. The Vale of Gresford, the grounds of Wynnstay, the valley of the Dee, and the vale of Llangollen, offer some of the most beautiful views, unsurpassed for grandeur and picturesque effect. Here Cambria discloses herself between the mountains of Trevor and Berwyn, and by her own sacred Dee, the happy valley, which leads to scenes of the richest beauty, where amidst her mountains and lakes she revels in all her native splendour of rocks, woods, and streams. Throughout the rest of the line, as it crosses the valley of the Ceiriog, and passes along the borders of Wales to St. Oswald’s town of Shrewsbury, the scenery is most lovely and park-like; and the adjoining Welsh mountains form, a noble and varied background to many a delightful view. It is both a business and pleasure line. It curves so as to either nearly touch or pass through the borders of Wales; it intersects a very important iron and coal district in Denbighshire, and passes either close to, or as near as possible the chief towns on its route — Oswestry, Llangollen, and Wrexham.

Proceeding on our way, with the “fair Sabrina” on our left hand, we pass Berwick Park, the seat of Lord Berwick, and arrive at

Leaton. — In the immediate vicinity is the little village Fettes or Fitz, a charming place situated on a gentle but commanding eminence, embracing a diversity of scenery, presenting the finest view the county can boast of.

Shortly after leaving this station we pass the village of Walford, and the seat of the late R. A. Slaney, Esq. M.P. for Shrewsbury.

Shropshire : Baschurch

The village of Baschurch is of great antiquity, and its salubrity and general cleanliness render it a desirable place of residence.

We now traverse a swampy, flat, and uninteresting part of the country, viz., Bagley Moors, and Whyke Moss, and then crosses the river Perry.

On the left are seen a long range of high mountains called the Welsh or Breedden hills, about five miles distant; on the summit of one of them is a pillar erected in honour of Rodney’s victory over the French; and Tedsmore Hall, the fine seat of T. Owen, Esq.

The next place we arrive at is

Thence passing the elegant mansion in a picturesque park of Woodhouse, W. M. Owen, Esq. and soon after Aston Park, we arrive at

Shropshire : Whittington

This station is looked upon as the prettiest on this line.

Two miles further we arrive at

Oswestry Branch

The line to Oswestry presents few objects worthy of notice or description. Park Hall, the property of R. H. Kinchant, Esq., is a singular and interesting mansion, built in the Tudor style. Porkington, the seat of W. Ormsby Gore, Esq., is beautifully situated, and commands some of the finest and most extensive views in the country. Farther on to the right is “Old Oswestry,” an ancient military post, situated on an eminence, a very picturesque looking object from the railway.

Shropshire : Oswestry

This is a very ancient town, famous as being the site of the conflict between Penda and Oswald in 642, when the latter lost his life.

Great Western continued

Proceeding onwards from Gobowen, with St. Martin’s one mile on the right, and Selattyn one mile to the left, we soon come to the Chirk Viaduct, which carries us across the lovely vale of Ceiriog, and into the Welsh county of Denbigh, and stop at

Denbighshire : Chirk

Pleasantly situated on the brow of a hill, surrounded by fertile meadows and wooded banks. The neighbourhood affords various rural entertainments for tourists and visitors.

Proceeding onwards, with the Chester and Ellesmere canal running for some distance parallel with us, we pass Cefn, with Wynnstay and its pretty park on our right, and the works of the British Iron Company on our left, and arrive at the station of

Denbighshire : Ruabon

The village of Ruabon is most pleasantly situated, and there are mansions, iron and coal works in the neighbourhood.

The railway from Ruabon runs parallel with Watt’s and Offa’s Dykes for a long distance. The mountainous district to the left is a valuable raining country, extremely prolific in coal and iron, and shortly before reaching Wrexham the traveller will perceive Erddig Hall, the seat of Simon York, Esq., delightfully situated on a hill, with a beautiful little river flowing at its foot The view of this mansion from the railway is exceedingly picturesque.

Denbighshire : Wrexham

Wrexham is a populous town in the county of Denbigh. Population 7,562, who return one member. It stands in a fertile plain adjoining the Royal Vale of Cheshire.

The train now traverses for a considerable distance what is called “free” or neutral ground where at one time trade and commerce could only be transacted between the ancient Britons; the Danes, and afterwards the Saxons.

Recrossing Watt’s Dyke, we arrive at the junction of the

Brymbo, Minera, &c, Branch

Telegraph station at Wheatsheaf.

This mineral branch diverges to the right, and passes across the coal field to the lime rocks of Minera. It is 6¼ miles in length. There are several smaller branches made for the accommodation of the works at Frood, Brynmally, Westminster, South Sea, Brymbo, and Vron, to the extent of about six miles in addition.

At a place called Wheatsheaf the locomotive portion of the branch terminates, and the lower self-acting inclined plane commences, by which the loaded wagons descend, and draw up the empty ones to Summerhill level.

At Summerhill the branch pierces through the crest of a hill by a tunnel, and enters the Moss Valley, which is here a narrow ravine, beautifully wooded, having its sides studded with cottages and gardens, which are chiefly small freeholds, the property of the workmen.

From Moss Valley the main branch rises by a steep inclined plane to Peutre, at an inclination of 1 in 4. At the top it pierces through the summit of the Peutre by a tunnel, on emerging from which is Brymbo Valley and iron works From the tunnel the railway winds its course for about four miles to Minera, celebrated for its lead mines and limestone rocks. As the railway winds along the slope of the hills a most magnificent panoramic tow is obtained, extending from the Mersey, dotted with white sails, across the Vale Royal, over Cheshire and Shropshire to the Severn, flanked on the left by the Hope Mountains, and on the right by the Berwyn range, to which succeed the Brydden, the Wrekin, Caer Caradoc, and the distant Cheshire hills; and while the eye is charmed with the beauty of the landscape, the mineral treasures and the varied mechanical contrivances by which their value is brought out, commands the attention and admiration of the geologist and scientific visitor.

Great Western Main Line continued

Passing a fine ancient mansion, called Geversyllt Hall, the property of Sir Watkin W. Wynne, Bart., and then, by some deep cuttings and long embankments, we reach

Flintshire : Gresford

The station is built in the English villa style, and its picturesque simplicity harmonises exceedingly well with the beautiful and romantic scenery around.

A short distance from the line is a high hill, called the Rofts, formerly a British encampment, and arrive at

Soon after passing this the line proceeds over a flat, fertile country called the Lache Hayes, to the left of which, as far as the eye can see,’is the long range of Clwydian Hills, the centre one being distinguished by the name of Moel Fammau, or the mother of hills. There is a monument on the summit of this mountain, erected to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the reign of George III. The view from this elevation is very extensive. The hills nearest the line are those of Hope Mountains, containing minerals of every description in profusion. The iron and coal works are seen burning at night for a considerable distance. We likewise perceive the village of Doddleston on the left. The church contains a monument to the memory of Chancellor Egerton, Lord Ellesmere. The next station is

Cheshire : Saltney

This place is becoming of considerable importance in connection with the coasting trade, from its being the nearest shipping port to the whole of North Wales, Shropshire, and the mining districts in Staffordshire.

Leaving Saltney, we soon after cross the river Dee by the largest cast-iron girder bridge in the kingdom, and a viaduct of 47 arches; then, passing through the west angle of the city walls, over the Ellesmere and Chester Canal, and through the tunnel beneath Northgate, we arrive at the Station at

Cheshire : Chester

Chester is a genuine Roman city, built four-square, within walls, which remain to this day.

For continuation of route to Holyhead, see Chester to Holyhead.

Chester to Manchester

(Viâ Warrington and Newton Junction).

The station at Chester stands to the north-east of the city, with Abbot’s Grange a little to the left. About two miles along the line we pass Hoole Hall, the residence of Lady Broughton, and a little beyond, the village of Mickle Trafford, and shortly after arrive at the first station on the line, that of Dunham Hill, close to which are Wimbold’s Trafford Hall and Bridge Trafford. The next place we stop at is

The line direct from Manchester to Liverpool turns off here, and takes a direction along the marshy shores of the Mersey to the town of

Continuing our course along the side of the river we pass Whitby Locks, at the station for which we stop for a minute. The river hence begins to recede; we pass the station of Sutton, and in about four minutes arrive at

Hooton, the junction with the line from Chester to Birkenhead.

Leaving the station at Helsby we are borne along the base of a range of hills to our right, the principal of which is that of Overton, behind which is the town of Overton, of course concealed from our view. We are now at

Cheshire : Frodsham

This place is situated in a pretty spot under Overton Hill.

Next in succession is Runcorn Road, three miles to the left of which is Runcorn, where markets are held on Fridays. It has a population of 10,434, employed in the salt and coal trade. Weston Point, under the cliffs, lies about a mile lower down the river, at the confluence of the Weaver, and Runcorn Gap on the opposite side of the Mersey. Halton Castle commands fine views; it was built by Fitz Nigel, and a little beyond is Aston Hall, the seat of Sir A. Aston, for many years Ambassador at the Court of Spain. The canal suddenly falls here by ten locks.

Norton and Daresbury stations.

The arrival of the train at Newton Bridge, the junction of the line with the London and North Western, is soon announced; and passing the stations of Kenyon, Bury Lane, Astley, Patricroft, Eccles, and Ordsall, we arrive at

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