Cirencester’s other railway station, Cirencester (Watermoor), was on a cross country line linking Birmingham and the North with Southampton Docks. It was part of the Midland and South Western Junction Railway or M&SWJR, which ran from Andoversford, east of Cheltenham, to Andover. It used other railways to get to Cheltenham and all places north, and from Andover to Southampton. It had its own locomotive, carriage and wagon works next to Watermoor station
The earliest section of the M&SWJR ran southwards from Swindon via Marlborough to Andover. It was extended northwards from its own Swindon station via Cricklade to Cirencester in 1883 and onwards via Foss Cross and Chedworth, eventually running through trains to Cheltenham in 1891. It had good relations with the Midland and the London & South Western Railways and consequently was never appreciated by the Great Western. North of Andover it ran across Salisbury Plain with its military establishments, and therefore was of crucial importance during the two World Wars.
In its earlier days the M&SWJR ran boat trains from the north of England to Southampton. Some were for the rich en route to New York or South Africa. Some were for the poor who were about to emigrate to a new life. It even provided an alternative route to London via Andover and Waterloo. Much of the time it relied on passengers and freight from the countryside it crossed.
In 1882 and 1883 there were plans to link Cirencester’s two railways and build a link from the M&SWJR to join the railway at Fairford.
In 1923, all the railways in this country were amalgamated into four large, but still private, railway companies. The M&SWJR became part of the GWR and decline started. Cirencester now had two GWR stations and to distinguish them, this one was renamed Cirencester (Watermoor) in 1925. The rundown of the M&SWJR continued after nationalisation. Cirencester (Watermoor) closed to passenger traffic in 1961 and to all traffic in 1964.
The locomotive, carriage and wagon works closed in 1925, and GWR subsequently ran trains to Swindon for workers who transferred to Swindon works.
Watermoor station and works all disappeared when the town’s bypass was built. The goods shed site is now Watermoor roundabout, the locomotive works lie under the dual carriageway just west of the roundabout and passenger station just to the northeast. Many of the railway workers lived in the Watermoor area. An echo of its existence is in one road name, namely Midland Road. One clue to its route into the town is the dip in the road just south of The Greyhound in Siddington. With a good map, the route can be traced round City Bank area and out towards Kingshill School. If you drive out of Cirencester towards Bibury and turn left for the Organic Farm Shop you will drive along a bit of the route. You can still have a ride on a part of the M&SWJR as the Swindon and Cricklade Railway at Blunsdon uses its track bed.
I am very grateful to Peter Stephenson for drafting this article.
John Tiffney- Cirencester Civic Society
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