Station Name: FENN'S BANK

[Source: Paul Wright]

Date opened: 4.5.1863
Location: East side of an un-named minor road
Company on opening: Oswestry, Ellesmere & Whitchurch Railway
Date closed to passengers: 18.1.1965
Date closed completely: 18.1.1965
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Station building and probably part of the platform still survives as a residential property.
County: Flintshire
OS Grid Ref: SJ510392
Date of visit: 19th April 2009
Notes: Fenn’s Bank station was situated on what became the Cambrian Railways main line from Whitchurch to Welshpool. The section of line on which the station was located was originally promoted and built by the Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railway as part of a line between Oswestry and Whitchurch which was first proposed in 1860.
Following ferocious arguments between competitors LNWR and GWR, Parliament authorised building the line in August 1861. One of its primary purposes for building the line was to regenerate the town of Ellesmere which had suffered from competition with other neighbouring towns already provided with railway facilities. The proposed route came under strong opposition from land owners and the company were finally obliged to divert and cross an area known as Fenn's Moss. This brought exceptional technical problems and the track was bedded on heather, peat, bundles of faggots and a thick bed of sand. There were also two drainage ditches 40 yards apart, on either side of the track.

The first section of the line officially opened from Whitchurch to Ellesmere on the 4th May 1863. A special train to mark the completion of this section of the line ran a few weeks earlier on the 20th April 1863. The onward section to Oswestry was held over for a year in case of new GWR route developments.

Fenn’s Bank Station opened with the first section of line, and for just over a year it was served by passenger and goods services running between Whitchurch and Ellesmere. On the 25th July 1864 the Oswestry and Newtown and the Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railways amalgamated with the Newtown and Machynlleth, and the Llanidloes and Newtown Railways to form the Cambrian Railways (Joined in 1865 by the Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway). Just two days later on the 27th of July 1864 the section of line from Ellesmere to Oswestry opened for business. By 1866 the Cambrian Railway had a mainline running all the way from Whitchurch to Aberystwyth.

The 18 mile line between Oswestry and Whitchurch was a single track railway and although there was a passing loop Fenn’s Bank it was for use by goods services only. Therefore Fenn’s Bank station was provided with only one platform. It had a simple single storey brick built building which provided basic passenger facilities. The station also had its own goods
facilities and handled livestock. There was a small goods yard on the south side of the station with two sidings, one serving a loading bank and the other the goods shed which was clad in corrugated metal sheeting. The station was served by local trains on the Cambrian main line running between Whitchurch and Oswestry with some services going forward to Welshpool. Many other services passed through the station from areas beyond the Cambrian network.

During WW1 troops practicing on the Fenn's Moss rifle ranges arrived by railway by means of an extra long siding provided off the passing loop at nearby Fenn's Bank Station.

In the1923 grouping the Cambrian Railway was taken over by the Great Western Railway although very little changed in terms of operational practice. In GWR days seven trains operated daily in each direction between Oswestry and Whitchurch. During the Second World War many extra trains used the line as there were large military depots and camps situated at Ellesmere, and in the Oswestry area.

On the 1st January 1948, Fenn’s Bank Station, and the line which it served, became part of the Nationalised British Railways Western Region. Again little changed at first but by the late 1950s competition from road transport was having an effect and services had been reduced.

The 1963 Beeching Report ‘Reshaping Britain’s Railways’ recommended the closure of the Oswestry to Whitchurch line. In the same year it was transferred to the London Midland Region. Fenn’s Bank lost its goods service on 4th May 1964 although a private siding remained in use after this date. On the 18th January 1965 Fenn’s Bank station closed to
passengers. Goods services continued to run between Whitchurch and Ellesmere until the 29th March 1965.

Today Fenn’s Bank Station is still extant and in use as a private dwelling. Its goods shed also survives as private apartments.

Source: Stanley Jenkins, Steam Days Magazine, December 2008. Tickets from Michael Stewart

To see other stations on the Oswestry - Whitchurch line click on the station name: Whitchurch STILL OPEN, Bettisfield, Welshampton, Ellesmere, Frankton, Whittington High Level, Tinkers Green Halt & Oswestry

Fenn's Bank station looking south west
Photo from John Mann collection

Fenn's Bank station and goods yard looking north east
Photo from John Mann collection

The station building and platform at Fenn's Bank in March 1978
hoto by Alan Young

The station building at Fenn's Bank in July 1993
hoto by Martin Potter

The surviving Fenn's Bank station building in April 2009
hoto by Paul Wright

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Paul Wright]

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