The history of Britain's railway infrastructure has been marked by the construction of numerous lines that, whilst serving a local use, generated much of their revenue from providing alternative routes to existing main lines. It was these routes, moreover, that were to be amongst the most conspicuous casualties of the rationalisation in the railway industry in the 1950s and 1960s. The most notable victims of this policy were the Waverley route and the Great Central Main Line. Another route, perhaps less well known but equally important for the communities that it served, was the former Midland Railway line from Ashchurch to Barnt Green. The route, which opened in stages between 1859 and 1868, provided an essential link for the various communities (such as Redditch and Alcester) along it, but also formed an important diversionary route that ran parallel to the Midland Railway main line between Gloucester and Birmingham; this was particularly important in the days of steam as the route bypassed the notorious Lickey incline.
In his latest book for Ian Allan Publishing's OPC imprint, Bob Essery - one of Britain's foremost railway historians, authors and experts on the Midland Railway - provides a comprehensive account of the history and operation of the line. Drawing upon many years of detailed research, the author, whose personal knowledge of the line goes back some years to when he worked as a footplateman in the area, provides the modeller and historian with the first detailed history of this important secondary route yet published. Comprehensively illustrated throughout with photographs and line drawings, including station plans and signalling diagrams. In addition to dealing with the Barnt Green-Ashchurch line itself, the book also examines the line's inter-relationship with the Stratford-on-Avon & Midland Junction Railway, which connected with the route at Broom Junction.
Bob Essery lives near Burton on Trent. Now retired after a career that culminated in being the Sales Director for a well-known cutlery company, he is one of Britain's foremost railway historians. He is the author or co-author of numerous railway titles, including most recently for OPC The London Tilbury & Southend Railway and its Locomotives, which was published in the autumn of 2001. Apart from his work with OPC, he is also one of the country's leading railway modellers and has had work published by, inter alia, Wild Swan (for whom he produces Midland Record) and others.