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Sunday 13 March 2016

Upton-on-Severn Station

Upton-upon-Severn sits on the western bank of the river, five miles southeast of Malvern. Although the Malvern section of the Ashchurch branch closed in 1952, the spur to Upton remained open until 1961, meaning that many more photographs of this part of the line have survived. However, unlike in Tewkesbury where a station was later rebuilt in nearby Ashchurch as a compromise, the eventual closing of the Midland Railway left Upton completely and permanently without direct railway access.

Today, little remains of Upton-on-Severn station, which was demolished and the footprint used to build a new industrial estate. However, although the embankment which once approached the station from the west has also been eradicated to make way for rugby pitches, the route south of the station remains clearly defined by the lines of local hedges.

The Station Approach

The approach to Upton station was made along a raised embankment which led up to a bridge spanning the southern end of Old Street, then called Station Road. The picture below shows the bridge being dismantled, with the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul in the background. I have tried to recreate the shot below, although this was a bit tricky with a modern wide-angled camera!


The closure of the Malvern end of the Midland branch line in 1952 left Upton out on a limb at the end of an awkward cul-de-sac stretching back to Ashchurch. In order to allow trains to continue running in both directions, the line towards Malvern was cauterised to provide a short Y-shaped siding or headshunt.  Here, the tank engines pulling the single-carriage passenger services into Upton could allow their last passengers to alight before realigning themselves behind the carriage for the return journey. An article from a 1960s edition of The Railway Magazine (a copy of which can be found here) explains the process as follows:
'Running around the train at Upton was a little unconventional, due to the lack of a second crossover between the original pair of running lines. After the passengers had alighted, the engine would propel its coach back along the running line to a position between the single slip and the goods yard entry point, and uncouple. It would then run round by means of the single slip onto the old up line, across to the goods loop, and back onto the running line at the Tewkesbury end of its coach via the double slip and goods yard entry point. Given the limited nature of traffic at that time, it was obviously not considered worthwhile to install extra pointwork to simplify the procedure. However, in July 1958, with the rationalisation of signalling and the removal of the former up line from Tewkesbury, the situation was resolved. A turnout was provided at the Malvern end of the station, and the single slip was replaced by another turnout to form a crossover, thus providing a conventional run-round.'
The pictures below show the headshunt and the 'running round' process in more detail:

'End of Railway from Ashchurch'. Used courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Creative Commons.
This picture shows tank engine 47506 'running around' the carriage in order to return to Ashchurch without using a turntable.
The next three shots from 1956 show the process more clearly, as engine 43373 pulls into Upton with the 5.10 from Ashchurch before running around to provide the return 5.45 service. See how the carriage changes platforms while the engine is now facing the wrong way for the return journey.

'Upton on Severn, 5.10 from Ashchurch', 8.3.56.
'Upton on Severn, 8.3.56. 43373 with 5.45 to Ashchurch'.
'Upton on Severn, facing Malvern. 43373 on branch train. 5.45 to Ashchurch', 8.3.56.

The Station

Upton platform looking towards the Malverns.
'Upton upon Severn, Facing Tewkesbury', 8.3.56.
'Great Malvern - Ashchurch train at Upton-on-Severn'. Used courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Creative Commons.
'Upton-on-Severn Station, with train'. Used courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Creative Commons.


'Last Passenger Train out of Upton on Severn. 12.8.61, 5.45pm'
'Dereliction at Upton-on-Severn Station, 1961'. Used courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Creative Commons.


  1. Ironically the bus serice between Upton and Malvern has been almost wiped out with only a temporary one way circular route operating until people get used to having no buses whatsoever in a few weeks. The railway might have flourished if tourism had been encouraged on a preserved steam line linking with boats in and out of Upton to Worcester and Tewkesbury and further afield. A great missed opportunity.

  2. I agree. It's shocking that Upton is cut off from Malvern by public transport. Upton residents and tourists can no longer get to and from Great Malvern railway station. (The so-called bus service is a ring and ride arrangement which has to be booked the day before and your bus journey has to fit in with other people's.)