Dowty Railways Sidings at Ashchurch

In October 1962, when there was still plenty of steam activity at Ashchurch on both the main line and branches, the Dowty Railway Preservation Society (DRPS), a section of the Dowty Sports and Social Society, was founded and acquired items of railway interest for preservation in the sidings, with the wholehearted cooperation of Sir George Dowty, founder of the Dowty Group.

The railway sidings used by the Dowty Group at Ashchurch were connected to the ex-Midland/LMS Bristol – Birmingham main line on the up side.

This was – still is – a very busy main line with lots of express passenger and freight workings. The sidings had been put in originally by the Midland Railway to serve its horse provender stores building.

Ashchurch Junction

By the 1930s the building was used by the Cotswold Packing Co. for packing fruit from the nearby Vale of Evesham, then Birds Custard had it for a while, before it was incorporated in the Cheltenham – based Dowty Group of engineering companies which started operating at Ashchurch in 1941.

At this time, Dowty’s were paying rent to BR for use of some of the sidings in the yard.

The DRPS was able to announce on 11 December 1962 that it would rent the end portion of five sidings, which needed to be fenced off before the arrival of rolling stock.

The first item to arrive via the main line connection during 1963 was Avonside Engine Co 0-4-0T 1977 0f 1925, Cadbury Bournville No.1 on 9 March

Dowty Railway Preservation Society

The site closed down sometime in the 1980s and the society moved to Toddington on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.

Princess Elizabeth at Ashchurch

Ashchurch, Cotswold Packing Co c1935. A fine view showing the sidings, with covered vans for the despatch of boxes of canned fruit, which were made up in the provender store. To the left of the main building can be seen railway workers' houses, while on the right is the Midland Railway tank house, which survives to this day, alongside the main line.
Ashchurch 7 May 1946. This super aerial view shows the tall provender store and the sidings, with the brand new Dowty factory behind
Dowty Electrics - later the Dowty Railway Preservation Society c.1950
Dowty Railway Preservation Society
Dowty Railway Preservation Society Signal Box
Dowty Railway Preservation Society
Ashchurch Junction
Dowty Railway - Publication
Princess Elizabeth at Ashchurch
Princess Elizabeth with LMS #46201 The Caledonian
Truck used for shunting and testing Dowty Hydraulic Buffers
Photo from Derek Round collection
Dowty Railway Preservation Society

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