Tramway cycle plan has widespread support says company
Re-opening the old Tramway line between Stratford and Shipston as a cycle route is feasible, according to a study conducted by a new community interest company which is determined to turn the project into a reality.
Two hundred years after the line first opened, the company – called Old Tramway Revived – has been busy gaining support for the project, recently recruiting the High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Lady Min Willoughby de Broke, as its patron.
The tramway ran around 16 miles from Stratford to Moreton, with a branch also serving Shipston, but has been disused for almost 100 years after failing as a commercial route.
It was designed to transport coal from the canal basin in Stratford towards the south-west and was one of the first railway lines in the country – although the trams were pulled by horses.
It was also unusual for its length at the time.
The idea of reopening the route for walkers and cyclists is the brainchild of 18th century historian and keen cyclist Andrew Fincham, who presented an overview of the project to the Stratford Society, illustrating the visible outline of the route through the use of satellite images.
Andrew says a section of the line, from Stratford to Newbold, could be the easiest to start working on first, because much of the land is already owned by Warwickshire County Council or Stratford District Council.
Starting with this section could also take cyclists off the busy A3400, while a second phase could connect the Darlingscott crossing to Shipston Rugby Club, with the final section being the stretch from Newbold to the Darlingscott crossing.
The potential availability of national funding from the Department of Transport, plus widespread public support, also work in the project’s favour, Andrew argued.
He told the Herald: “I am aware that there have been ideas about reopening this route in the past that ultimately were unsuccessful. For example, I believe the youth opportunities programme did some work in the 1980s.
“However, timing is everything. With the pandemic there has never been more of a focus on healthy and safe outdoor activities. Reopening this route for cyclists and walkers appeals to a lot of agendas and we’re really excited about making it happen.
“We’ve got a lot of support for this, from Nadhim Zahawi to the parish councils.”
Andrew added that he believed it would cost somewhere between £1.5m and £3m to reopen the whole line and the company was happy to be flexible with landowners if there were issues with following the exact route of the tramway in certain areas.
He said the route, which is entirely flat, would be perfect for cyclists and walkers.
The Old Tramway Revived intends to present its plans to the public during the forthcoming Tour d’Ilmington, where it will have a stand at Newbold village hall on 4th July.
Today (26th May) marks the official 200th anniversary of the old tramway line.