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The Railway

The Beginning

Ross-on-Wye Goods Shed mural
The mural on the goods shed

The 'Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway' built the line due to an Act of Parliament being passed in 1851. The first section of the Hereford-Ross-Gloucester Railway was opened on 11th July 1853 and ran from Grange Court, which was the junction with the South Wales line, to a temporary station and engine depot at Hopesbrook (or Hopeswood) near the eastern end of the Lea tunnel.

There was slow progress building the 771-yard Lea Tunnel and this delayed completion line. It was built for broad gauge and the single track bore was the most significant structure on the section to Ross. This also marked its highest point on the line.

Passengers, who could have originally boarded at Paddington where the trains originated, had to continue their journey by bus to Ross. It was a further two years before the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Company completed the construction of the tunnels, bridges and viaducts from Hopesbrook to Hereford.

The stretch from Hopesbrook to Hereford was opened on Friday 1st June 1855 and the first trains arriving were decked out with flags and the Goods Shed at Ross was used to hold a celebratory tea party for 2000 local children.

The opening of the line was a celebrated event not only in the town itself, but across the country and the "Illustrated London News" for July 14, 1855 described the line opening and Ross as:

Quoted from 'Illustrated London News'


At length we have the satisfaction to record the opening of this line Railway, which took place on the 1st day of June last, with great rejoicings. On a Rocky eminence looking over the Wye stands the town of Ross. Nothing can be more picturesque than its position from the Railway.

The line allowed the "working classes" access to scenery and places that they would previously only read or heard about. This is illustrated by this extract from the Illustrated London News:

Quoted from 'Illustrated London News'
We should add that the opening of this line of railway gives the tourist cheap and easy access to the tour of one of the finest rivers in Europe. The Wye tour, considered not to be excelled by any in Switzerland, can, by means of this railway, be accomplished in less than two days; and, by by an excursion-train of Great Western, there is not a mechanic in London who may not enjoy, at the cost of one day`s labour and three days` wages, a treat hitherto only within reach of the wealthy.

This meant that Ross was able to cater for an even wider range of the population thus increasing the status of the town.

A Woodcut of Ross on Wye
The woodcut associated with the article

After the completion and opening of the complete line, the temporary depot at Hopebrook were closed and Ross became the principle station. As it was a single track the trains had to pass on the loop at Ross.

Being as the line was not seen as a prosperous one, the land originally purchased to allow the line to be converted to a double track was never used5.

From the beginning the line was worked by the Great Western Railway (GWR) and in 1862 the Hereford-Ross-Gloucester Company was absorbed by the GWR.

Ross to Tewkesbury

A further Act was passed in 1856, allowing a rail link from Ross to Tewkesbury although this was never built. This did lead to the 10 mile Monmouth to Ross line that passed through Walford, Goodrich, Lydbrook and Symonds Yat. This was opened to passengers on 4th August 1873.

James Wallace Richard Hall

James Wallace Richard Hall, who was from Springfields, was a local solicitor and banker and a major player in the creation of the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway Company.

He started out as a solicitor to the company and then later became a director. He died suddenly in 1860 and local donations were used to erect a fountain in his memory.

James Wallace Richard Hall Fountain Ross on Wye
The original location of the Fountain
(Click for a larger image)

James Wallace Richard Hall Fountain Ross on Wye
Fountain in memory of James Wallace Richard Hall
(Click for a larger image)

Part of the fountain is currently located on the corner of Smallbrook Road and 'Station Approach'. It was originally located on the junction of Cantilupe Road, Smallbrook Road and Station Street close to where the roundabout is today but had to be moved to allow improved access to the Ashburton Industrial Estate. Ross-on-Wye Civic Society helped to raise funds to move and rebuild it in 1992.

next Wye Street Remaining Evidence previous

1 Track Layout Diagrams of the G.W.R and BR W.R. Section 36 Ross, Monmouth and Chepstow - R. A. Cooke
2 The Ross and Monmouth Railway Act, 1871 - printed in London by George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode
3 Wye Valley Railway - BM Handley/R Dingwall - Oakwood Press
4 Ross Gazette - Article: Tireless worker for town...
5 Ross Gazette - Article: In Memoriam August 31st, 1835

[Page updated: Mar 18 2011 00:45:38]

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