[Source: Darren Kitson]

Date opened:

Believed opened as a stopping place on the Stratford & Moreton Railway (the horse tramway): 5  September 1826. Opened as a proper railway station: November 1892 (exact date unknown) having previously been ‘Golden Cross’ Request Stop.

Location: East side of Fosse Way (A429)
Company on opening: Great Western Railway
Date closed to passengers:

Closed as a Wartime economy measure: 1 January 1917. Reopened: 1 January 1919 (On Page 42 of his 1987 book ‘The Stratford & Moreton Tramway’ author John Norris gives the reopening date as March 1919 but with no mention of the particular day.) Closed to passengers: 8 July 1929

Date closed completely: 1 June 1941
Company on closing: Great Western Railway
Present state: Demolished - only the extended crossing keeps cottage survives
County: Warwickshire
OS Grid Ref: SP228384
Date of visit: 26 June 2016

Notes: Stretton-on-Fosse is a village some 3½ miles north of Moreton-in-Marsh. It is in the County of Warwickshire and close to the border with Gloucestershire as per the present day county boundaries. In 2011 its population was just 439. ‘Stretton’ means ‘Settlement on a road’ and ‘Stret’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon for the modern word ‘Street’. The village is about a quarter of a mile west of the Fosse Way at its closest point; originally the Exeter - Lincoln Roman Road of which most is now the A429. The village should not be confused with Stretton-under-Fosse which lies some distance away between Rugby and Coventry.

The horse tramway that was the Stratford & Moreton Railway crossed the Fosse Way at a point about one third of a mile east north-east of the village centre at the Golden Cross inn. At this time the population of Stretton-on-Fosse was approximately half the 2011 figure given above. As far as can be determined there was no tramway wharf as was provided elsewhere with buildings and Stretton-on-Fosse was nothing more than a stopping place at the Fosse Way level crossing.

The pre railway OS 6 inch map surveyed in 1885 shows the tramway crossing the Fosse Way adjacent to the Golden Cross Inn. The only buildings shown are the inn, its stables and smallholding (a small farm) buildings. No siding is shown at this time.

This section of the horse tramway was rebuilt by the Great Western Railway (GWR) as a proper railway to create its Moreton-in-Marsh to Shipston-on-Stour direct branch and Stretton-on-Fosse was designated a Request Stop, but still without a proper railway-type station. The Request Stop status may have existed earlier than, and perhaps as early as Mr Bull's passenger service described elsewhere, but the first record dates from 1889 when the Shipston-on-Stour branch railway opened. The Request Stop was, colloquially if not officially, logically known as ‘Golden Cross’. The non provision of a proper station in 1889 may well be indicative of anticipated very low usage although the same might be said of Longdon Road which did have a proper railway station provided in 1889. Nevertheless the GWR did provide a proper station in 1892 and it was reported as being 'ready' in November of that year. Alas, the exact, official opening date remains unclear.

From the opening of the Shipston-on-Stour branch railway on the 1st of July 1889 ‘Golden Cross’ was provided with a level crossing keeper's cottage, which appears to have doubled as a stationmaster's house. A short goods siding had appeared by 1887. The weigh office was, as at Shipston-on-Stour, a brick structure to the standard GWR design and a goods loading gauge was provided; originally a non adjustable gauge, later replaced by a GWR adjustable type. The weighbridge and office was provided in 1906 and the office was built using blue brick as opposed to that at Shipston-on Stour which was of red brick, while Longdon Road had to make do with a diminutive wooden hut as its weigh office.

The cottage differed to others provided along the branch; while the others had a single storey extension to the rear, that at Stretton-on-Fosse had a two-storey extension although its pitched roof did not extend up to the same height as that of the main part of the building. In the late 19th century Mr Charles Cotton was the incumbent. Curiously the 1896 Kelly's Directory for Warwickshire lists other stations in the County as having a ‘station master’ and this is consistent apart from at Stretton-on-Fosse where Mr Cotton was listed as a ‘booking constable’ (‘constable’ is today assumed to mean a police officer of the lowest rank but the term literally means "a person having authority" and not necessarily a police officer). ‘Booking constable’ suggests Mr Cotton held a grade lower than that of stationmaster although stationmaster was in effect what he was. By the time of the temporary 1917 closure, the position was held by a Mr Hills and he was transferred elsewhere. Following withdrawal of the passenger service in 1929 both Longdon Road and Stretton-on-Fosse are known to have been staffed by a Leading (Grade 1) Porter and this may well have applied at Stretton-on-Fosse from the 1919 reopening.

The entry in Kelly's Directory for Warwickshire 1896 showing, towards bottom right, Charles Cotton as being 'booking constable' at Stretton-on-Fosse station. Also shown at extreme bottom right is the then landlord of the Golden Cross. Note the spelling 'STRETTON-ON-THE-FOSS'. Most if not all such hyphenated place names underwent changes over a period of time, often centuries as Anglo-Saxon and names of other origins gradually became anglicised. The Countess of Camperdown was Mrs Laura Blanchard (nee Dove), an American from Boston, Massachusetts who married George Alexander Philips Haldane-Duncan in 1888. Duncan, of Scottish origin, was the 4th and final Earl of Camperdown. The couple resided in the United States and visited the United Kingdom bi-annually, owning vast amounts of land including in Warwickshire. The countess died in 1910 and the Earl in 1933, both in Boston

As at Longdon Road and Shipston-on-Stour the platform at Stretton-on-Fosse was about 170ft long and as per Longdon Road, was on a curve. The same type of wooden external frame station building was provided although of the three such buildings on the Shipston-on-Stour branch each was to a slightly different design. The building at Stretton-on-Fosse had, for example, only one door leading to and from the platform. At the west end of the building was an annex containing a lavatory, presumably Gentlemen, with a water tank on its roof. Access was via an external west facing door. Originally the station was provided with two running-in boards and why this was thought necessary is unknown. Longdon Road somehow muddled through with just a single running-in board as did Shipston-on-Stour although a single board at smaller branch termini was standard provision. Whatever the reason, the running-in board at the east end of Stretton-on-Fosse station was later removed.

Other provision was in the form of three small wooden huts, on the Down side of the line and at the east end of station site. Of these, one was an original PW (Permanent Way) hut, another was a second PW hut added at a later date but the third hut, which sat closer to the running line, is a something of a mystery. It may have housed Ganger George Webb's 'rail velocipede', the tragic story of which is told in another section. The 'rail velocipede' would have had to have been replaced and a pump trolley and trailer is known to have been based at Stretton-on-Fosse. Perhaps the mysterious third hut housed this pump trolley, of which only one photograph is known to exist showing it parked on the siding in 1947. By 1947, of course, Stretton-on-Fosse had closed to all rail traffic so to park the pump trolley on the siding would have been convenient.

A typical pump trolley designed for operation by two people. Not all were fitted with brakes but this example is, with brakes being applied by means on the foot operated plunger. The Stretton-on-Fosse example was braked in the same manner as seen here.
Reproduced under Creative Commons Licence from Wictionary

The railway at Stretton-on-Fosse station was on a gradient of 1:93 falling in the Up direction (toward Moreton-in-Marsh) and the siding, which had points trailing in the Up direction, was given a trap point to protect the running line from any runaway wagons. As far as it has been able to determine, this was the only trap point on the Shipston-on-Stour branch outside of Moreton-in-Marsh. The running line at Shipston-on-Stour being protected by a head-shunt, sometimes known as a 'trap siding'.

The Fosse Way level crossing immediately west of Stretton-on-Fosse station was of interest by virtue of having four gates, two sets of two gates with one set each side of the road. When the gates were closed to the road the gates met each other end on but when closed to the railway the gates overlapped. This is better seen in the photographs. The reason for this arrangement was the road being wider than the railway trackbed. The level crossing was skewed but other skewed crossings on the branch had conventional two-gate arrangements, which may cause one to wonder what was different about Stretton-on-Fosse. In short the answer is not known although it may have been connected with the widening of the road (at an unknown time point), being at odds with the land boundaries of the original horse tramway. The boundaries did not permit the installation of wider and more suitable gates. The reader is left to ponder this question for his/herself.

Traffic levels, goods and passenger, were always somewhat dire and it is doubtful the temporary 1917 - 1919 closure genuinely inconvenienced many people although there were some objections. In or by 1914 there were already road services operating on the Fosse Way, calling into Stretton-on-Fosse village on the way and after WWI there was an upturn in road motor services as ex servicemen purchased military surplus motor vehicles and set up their own businesses, passenger and cartage. However these businesses, run by ex servicemen, did not spring up overnight and many servicemen were not demobbed until 1919 and in some cases later. The Allies were involved in the Army of Occupation in Europe after the signing of the Armistice on the 11th of November 1918 and WWI did not officially end until the 28th of June 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles. Thus it is not unreasonable to think the reopening of Stretton-on-Fosse on the first day of 1919 was, for a few more years anyway, its saving grace as, had the reopening been delayed any further the station may well have remained closed to passengers. In 1915 receipts for Stretton-on-Fosse were Passenger £236 and Goods £433; from which had to come wages, maintenance costs and so on let alone contribute to operating expenses of the branch as a whole.

In the event, Stretton-on-Fosse was to survive as a passenger station only for a further ten years, closure coming with the withdrawal of the Shipston-on-Stour branch passenger service on the 8th of July 1929. Both Stretton-on-Fosse and Longdon Road closed to all traffic on the 1st of June 1941. This was likely another wartime economy measure but this time the two intermediate stations remained closed. Not even the goods siding remained available as a public siding for, say, the odd truckload of coal - it simply was not worth it. However there is some evidence that Stretton-on-Fosse remained in use for a time after 1941 for parcels, which traffic, if any, would have been handled by a road vehicle in the same manner as Shipston-on-Stour during its later years. In their 1987 book "The Shipston-on-Stour Branch", authors Jenkins and Carpenter make a mention of this on Page 61. In 1942/3, they say, the late turn porter at Moreton-in-Marsh would cycle to Stretton-on-Fosse with the inference being that the porter would deal with any parcels at the booking office. Porter Archie Warren is quoted as implying he cycled to Stretton-on-Fosse Monday to Friday but on the days the goods train ran, which was at that time Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he would return, presumably with his bicycle, in the brake van of the train. On Tuesdays and Thursdays therefore he would cycle back to Moreton-in-Marsh. This adds weight to the suggestion that parcels traffic was indeed handled by road vehicles. Mr Warren is quoted as saying in respect of parcels that "there was hardly anything" and also made the rather telling observation that he "never saw a soul".

Shipston-on-Stour station closed to rail traffic in 1960 but remained in use for road-based parcels traffic until 1963 when absolute closure occurred. In view of the above story regarding Archie Warren the waters are rather muddied regarding when absolute closure of Stretton-on-Fosse occurred. What is certain is that Stretton-on-Fosse station did not survive as a parcels office until 1963 as by that time the buildings had long since been removed.

Following closure to all rail traffic in 1941, Longdon Road had its building and sidings removed in 1947. It is therefore likely Stretton-on-Fosse station received the same treatment at the same time. Following withdrawal of goods traffic on the Shipston-on-Stour branch in 1960 Stretton-on-Fosse was in due course used as a base by the track lifting contractor. Here, recovered materials were delivered by the contractor's own small internal-combustion locomotive for removal by road. A crawler crane was positioned at Stretton-on-Fosse for this purpose. Today the cottage survives in residential use but when passing on the A429 (Fosse Way) today (2024) it is partially hidden from view by hedging. There is no obvious evidence today that a railway ever existed at this location other than the name of the house but this is set back from the road and easy to miss. Opposite is a gap in the hedge leading onto a farm track; this is a red herring as it is not the former trackbed which was a little further north but some 300 yards of the former trackbed on the north-west side of the road has been ploughed back into a field. Nothing remains of the platform and as far as is known the weigh office has also disappeared.

Other than the cottage one further building defiantly still stands albeit not of railway origin. This is the former Golden Cross inn, a three storey Georgian building with a rather forbidding appearance when viewing its front elevation. It began life as an 18th century coaching inn and survives complete with many of its original outbuildings which would have included stables and a smith's shop - all the necessary accoutrements for the horse-drawn stagecoaches of a bygone era - along with its smallholding for providing the inn with fruit, vegetables, eggs and so on... There were no Tesco home deliveries in those days, only street traders offering various services and products. In the 1940s the landlady was a Mrs Marsh and at that time the Golden Cross was still a combined hotel/public house and farm. The Golden Cross has long since ceased to be an inn and is today part of Golden Cross Farm, the former inn itself being a rather splendid holiday let (as of 2024). These Georgian three-storey coaching inns were and still are common in this part of the country and most are now either private houses or holiday lets. At least one, however, The Bell at Alderminster still serves the purpose for which it was intended although of course patrons no longer arrive bruised and battered after a horrendous journey in a horse-drawn coach on rutted and uneven roads.

A cutting from the Coventry Evening Telegraph, October 1961. The slightly romantic text largely concerns the original horse tramway (the Stratford & Moreton Railway) and needs no further elaboration. Of relevance is the top photograph showing the track lifting contractor at Stretton-on-Fosse. Present is the crawler crane and just over the level crossing there appears to be a flat wagon present. Unfortunately the contractor's locomotive is not present, otherwise both it and the contractor could have been positively identified. Click here for a larger version
Newspaper cutting from Anthony Hicks

Tickets Michael Stewart. Route map drawn by Alan Young. Proof reading by Alan Lawrence.



See also Shipston-on-Stour, Longdon Road, Stretton-on-Fosse and Moreton-in-Marsh

Stretton on Fosse Station: Gallery 1
Early 20th C - 31 August 1952

fairly early photograph of which the subject was obviously the Golden Cross inn. The weighbridge and office was provided in 1906, the photograph being probably taken not long afterwards. There is a 'whiteout' problem with this image and the chimney pots on the east (to the right) end of the building are invisible. No photographs have come to light showing pots on the west end chimney stack, however. Very few photographs are known to exist showing the inn sign in situ, it being absent in the majority. Later photographs show the bracket, from which the sign was suspended, to have also been removed so perhaps the sign was relocated to the end wall of the building. These signs famously swung in the wind and tended to squeak so perhaps there was complaints from overnight guests. The bicycle is rather thoughtlessly obstructing the doorway. The field gate in the left background and to the right of the level crossing is still there to this day (2024) although partially engulfed by the hedges.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

The 1887 OS 1:25000 map showed what would become the site of Stretton-on-Fosse station five years later. The Ordnance Survey at this time was not good at railway company names and mistakes were common. The correct title of what in 1887 was still the horse tramway was the ‘Stratford & Moreton Railway’. At this time the location was referred to as "Golden Cross request stop" and apart from the inn there was nothing else there. A short siding is shown on the south-east side of the road crossing and this is something of a mystery. It is thought the GWR removed this siding during the conversion to railway status but then decided to provide a new siding. A record survives implying the new siding was provided in 1890, with the request stop thereafter known, at least officially, as "Stretton-on-Fosse Siding" but still with no passenger facilities.

By the time of the 1902 OS map a transformation of sorts had occurred. A longer siding is now present as is the station platform and its wooden building. The house has also appeared; is it thought to have begun life in 1889 as a standard crossing keeper's cottage only to be extended in 1892 to serve as the stationmaster's house. The Ordnance Survey had by now used the title "GWR Shipston-on-Stour Branch". One change is evident at the Golden Cross. The 1887 map showed it as having a well (W) but these 1902 maps shows a pump (p) had been installed. Gone were the days of lowering a bucket into the well and then hauling it out again, hopefully full of water.

By the time of this 1923 OS map a weighing machine (W.M.) and another hut has appeared opposite the station platform with a further hut appearing to the south, just beyond the end of the siding. There was a curious fondness at Stretton-on-Fosse for various huts at various times, one of which housed the gangers 'rail velocipede' and the later 'pump trolley' and trailer. Following the progress at Stretton-on-Fosse via this series of maps, it is perhaps strange to think that just six years later, in 1929, the Shipston-on-Stour passenger train service would be withdrawn.

This view is from a postcard which had been used in October 1910 so the date of the photograph will of course have been earlier and perhaps by a few years. The inn sign on the Golden Cross can be seen at far right. The sharp eyed viewer will notice the rails of the siding are outside keyed while the rails of the running line are inside keyed. This 'one or the other' theme could be found throughout the Shipston-on-Stour branch. No doubt when the branch was relaid secondhand track materials were brought in from wherever they happened to be available. The platform was wood-faced and the edging was of timber baulks, with the platform surface probably being of cinders or stone chippings. The usual accoutrements found on rural stations can be seen, namely a platform barrow, a sack barrow and a couple of milk churns. There is another barrow of the wheelbarrow type at the far end of the platform. There being no platform canopy the bench seat is not ideally placed, being exposed to the weather, and one suspects it was too large to be manhandled through the single doorway into the building. As was the case at Longdon Road and Shipston-on-Stour the building sat upon a rearwards extension of the platform. Unfortunately none of the posters are readable. The point rodding alongside the platform was operated from a ground frame near the level crossing. Stretton-on-Fosse had just two sets of points, both of which are seen here of which that nearest the camera was a trap point for the siding. Clearly seen are the level crossing gates which overlapped when closed to the railway.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Another view from October 1910 and facing towards Moreton-in-Marsh. This time much of the platform clutter is in different positions. Both running-in boards can be seen and that at the far end of the platform was later removed. Quite why two were thought necessary is a mystery as Longdon Road and Shipston-on-stour somehow muddled through with just one each. Also mystifying is why one board was removed but perhaps its backboard was required elsewhere, at a railmotor halt maybe as these were starting to be provided at around this time with cheapness being all important. Note the water tank on the roof of the lavatory, the lavatory being accessed via an end door hidden from view by the solid fencing. No doubt it is the stationmaster (or "booking constable" - take your pick [see main text]) posing for the camera with his child and dog. A wagon stands on the siding and a horse-drawn cart has been backed up to it. No dock or goods platform was provided at Stretton-on-Fosse. The loading gauge appears to be of the fixed type and later photographs show a standard, adjustable GWR type to have been present.
Photo from John Mann collection

Facing towards Shipston-on-Stour sometime after withdrawal of the passenger service in 1929, the only evidence of the station being closed to passengers, in this scene, is the partially dismantled oil lamp on the platform. The running-in board was to remain in situ for many years after 1929. The gates on the the right gave access to the goods yard, such as it was, and the condition of the siding railheads suggests goods traffic was infrequent. Note the road van parked by the end of the Golden Cross inn and the level crossing gates, overlapping when closed to the railway, can be seen. As there was no signalling these crossing gates were not locked. Instead a metal hoop hinging from one gate over the post of another was used to keep the gates in position. One such hoop is visible here.
Photo from John Mann collection

Facing towards Moreton-in-Marsh sometime after withdrawal of the passenger service in 1929. Compare this to the similar view taken in October 1910. The roses growing through the fence add a smidgen of horticultural delight to the otherwise somewhat forlorn scene. On the platform just beyond the building stands a drinking water can; this will be taken away by the branch goods train for refilling and a full replacement deposited for the occupants of the cottage. The loading gauge over the siding is now of the adjustable GWR type.
Photo from John Mann collection

Another view facing towards Moreton-in-Marsh sometime after withdrawal of the passenger service in 1929 and this time showing a wagon on the goods siding. The wagon is covered by a tarpaulin, No. 102930. This is not the wagon number. Tarpaulins came in two types; expensive and not quite so expensive and all had an inventory number along with the name or initials of the owning railway company. In essence these were anti theft measures and in general all portable items of railway owned property were marked in a similar fashion. At left foreground can be seen the 2-lever ground frame. It operated the points for the siding and the trap point, which latter is barely visible here. The round frame can be seen in several photographs although the levers are often difficult to see due to being 'camouflaged' by the adjacent fence posts.
Photo from John Mann collection

In April 1934 the camera was looking across the goods siding towards Shipston-on-Stour. The camera is facing north-west but Shipston-on-Stour is to the east north-east, in other words a few miles roughly to the right of the camera such was the indirectness of the Shipston-on-Stour branch - a legacy of the reuse of sections of the former horse tramway. Behind the station building can be seen, in part, the roof of the cottage with its two-storey rearwards extension and unequal roof heights. "Extension" is actually a misnomer for insofar as is known the cottage was built to this style.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

This photograph was taken at the same time as the other April 1934 view but from a slightly different vantage point. A tarpaulin, perhaps from a wagon, is draped over the fence and note the ladder hanging on the platform face. The ladder was probably used to access goods wagons as Stretton-on-Fosse had no goods platform or dock. The running-in board is still present some five years after the withdrawal of the passenger service. To the right the two posts and the weigh office are leaning back, the result of ground movement which was evident on this section of the line.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Stretton-on-Fosse closed to all traffic on 1 June 1941 with the station building and siding thought to have been removed during 1947, this view dating from sometime subsequently. While the stationmaster's house is a long way from the camera we nevertheless can see the rear of the building with its two-storey extension. It is possible the extension, with its lower roof, was a separate cottage for a level crossing keeper (this post was abolished in 1929) as no other residential building for staff was provided at this station. The different colour brickwork will also be noted, which might suggest the extension was a later addition. An extensive garden was also provided - essential in rural areas before the days of mass motor car ownership and supermarkets. Immediately left of centre can be seen the weigh office, in front of which another hut has appeared standing on the course of the former goods siding. This hut can be better seen in another photograph. At bottom right and just to the right of the hut with pitched roof, close observation shows the branch's pump trolley has been lifted from the track and dumped on the ground. This can also be seen in another photograph. The Golden Cross inn is seemingly glaring up at the camera. The inn's yard and stable block can be seen to its right, these being reminders of the age of the stagecoach. To the left of the inn is parked what appears to be a Citroën 2CV fourgonnette (van). It is too far from the camera to be certain but if it is it would place the photograph firmly in the 1950s. The narrow lane branching off just north of the level crossing leads to a number of isolated farms.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

Photographs of passenger trains at Stretton-on-Fosse are not common and at the time of writing none of service trains had been located, as a result of which we must be content with railtours. Here on 31 August 1952 2-4-0 No. 1335 is seen at the level crossing with the Stephenson Locomotive Society "Shipston Branch Tour" on its way to Shipston-on-Stour. This tour and the locomotive are seen and further described in the Shipston-on-Stour pages. The train is presumably moving, although the driver (the locomotive was righthand drive) does not look particularly in control, as it had stopped short of the gates for them to be opened by the crew. When stationary the rear carriage of the four-carriage train and most of the third would have been out of the platform. This a rare view of the crossing gates closed to road traffic, in which position the gates met end-on as can be seen but when closed to the railway they overlapped. This overlapping is visible in other photographs.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

Click here Stretton on Fosse Station: Gallery 2
July 1953 - July 2016




[Source: Darren Kitson]

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