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The River Wye


history: the railway

The course of the disused Hereford to Gloucester railway line is still one of the dominant features of this part of the Wye Valley

Photograph Chris Musson & the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club.


The railway between Hereford and Gloucester was incorporated in 1851. This line crossed the Wye four times between Hereford and Ross and so four bridges had to be built. Four tunnels also needed to be driven - Dinedor, Ballingham, Fawley and Lea, the first three between Hereford and Ross. The line proved difficult to construct and in January 1853 work was delayed because of extremely wet weather which flooded the tunnel at Lea.  On 16th April the Hereford Times reported that a workman had received fatal injuries at the Strangford cutting and on the 30th July that a collapse of earth at Dinedor had killed sub-contractor John Baker.

The railway opened on 1st June 1855. It was built as a broad gauge single line - the Hereford, Ross & Gloucester Railway. There were initially two stations between Hereford and Ross - Holme Lacy and Fawley. (Later Ballingham and Backney Halt were added.) There were six passenger trains each day from Hereford to Gloucester and five in the opposite direction. The first train of the day left Hereford at 8.20 am calling at Holme Lacy at 8.33 and Fawley at 8.43 to arrive in Ross at 8.55. The first service in the opposite direction left Ross at 8.55 to arrive at Hereford at 9.25. The last trains left Ross and Hereford at 7.00 and 7.30 pm respectively. There was also a Sunday service - one train in each direction.

On Thursday 13th March 1856 a fatality occurred on the line. The 7.30 pm train from Hereford ran over Charlotte Brian just outside Ross. A single woman of 40 from Ross, she had apparently intended to walk along the line to Sellack where she had friends. She had been drinking and appeared to have fallen asleep on the line. The train ran over her arm and leg, and not surprisingly, she died of her injuries.

In 1862 the Hereford, Ross & Gloucester Railway was merged with the Great Western Railway and in 1869 the line was converted from broad to standard gauge - the work was expected to take at least two weeks. In fact the whole conversion took only five days.

Holme Lacy station

photo courtesy of Tim Ward

Each of the stations on the line was manned (apart from the later Backney Halt) and the stationmaster was a respectable member of the community. In 1891 the stationmaster at Holme Lacy was Francis Charles Hayes. He lived at station house with his wife, Annie, and their children - Francis James, aged 13, Edith, 10, Netta, 5 and Dorothea, 3. Railway people were often not local - Francis was a Shropshire man and Annie had been born in Manchester. The Hayes children had all been born in Holme Lacy. Victorians of any standing had servants, and the Hayes' maid Elmira Pymble was aged 20 and had been born in Ross.


Passengers leaving Holme Lacy station as the train that they arrived on pulls out.

photo courtesy of Tim Ward

The locomotive, number 7326, is a Great Western Railway 4300 'Mogul' class designed by George Churchward. They were 2-6-0 tender locomotives - the maids-of-all-work of the GWR. This class first entered service in 1911. This group of the class were built in 1932 and were originally numbered 9300-19 and were renumbered 7322-7341 between 1956 and 1959. Number 7326 had previously been 9304.



Holme Lacy Station from the road bridge over the line. An Great Western Railway pannier tank is hauling a train towards the camera. Over 1000 pannier tanks were built and were used for shunting and mixed traffic on branch lines.

photo courtesy of Tim Ward


The same view in February 2006


The bridge from which the two photographs above were taken


Holme Lacy Station with its reflection in a carriage window.

photo courtesy of Tim Ward


Holme Lacy Station, 2006


The station buildings


At the beginning of the 20th century a new station at Ballingham was proposed by Mr T Powell of Ballingham Court.  This was opened in summer 1908 and was served by four of the seven daily trains in each direction. The single Sunday service each way did not call at Ballingham.

Building the new Ballingham station in 1908

photo courtesy of Hereford City Library



The completed Ballingham station

photo courtesy of Tim Ward


A tank engine, bunker first, with a passenger train at Ballingham.

photo courtesy of Tim Ward


Ballingham Station in the early 1980s

photo courtesy of  Sherwood Keogh




The road bridge and the station

photo courtesy of  Sherwood Keogh


Ballingham station rebuilt as a private house

photo courtesy of  Sherwood Keogh


The old embankment at Ballingham


Ballingham Railway Bridge


A passenger train heading south across Ballingham Bridge from Ballingham Station. After crossing the bridge it will enter the tunnel to emerge at Fawley Station.

The train will be in Ross-on-Wye in about quarter of an hour.

photo courtesy of Tim Ward


Ballingham bridge and the tunnel now


Fawley Station: Great Western Railway 4300 'Mogul' class number 6341 at Fawley station.

photo courtesy of Tim Ward

A passenger waits for the train to Ross.

photo courtesy of Tim Ward


The small goods yard south of Fawley tunnel and north of the station.

postcard - courtesy of Tim Ward


Fawley Station derelict after the line closed

photo courtesy of Gareth Williams



Fawley Station March 2006


Strangford Bridge after its collapse in 1947


Strangford Bridge rebuilt without the collapsed pier but with a longer span replacing it


Strangford Bridge in 2006


A road bridge crosses the line at Strangford near Sellack


Looking towards Fawley from the bridge at Strangford. This grassy strip is the top of the modern infill of a very deep cutting which took the line through the Foy peninsula.


Looking from the same bridge just after the old line was lifted in the 1960s. This is the opposite direction - towards Ross.

photo courtesy of Ian Gwynne


Backney Halt near Foy. A late addition to the line this was the only stop on the Foy peninsula.

photo courtesy of Tim Ward


Backney Bridge

photo courtesy of Tim Ward


Backney Bridge February 2006

Towards Ross - the old line approaches Ross through Brampton Abbotts parish, March 2006


St Mary's church, as the line approaches Ross.

photo courtesy of Ian Gwynne


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Wye Valley History pages

maintained by Archenfield Archaeology Ltd


This project was part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ Programme.