Well-known racehorse owner and trainer Anabel King-Murphy and her sister Roz Wyles joined Michael Brockington, the veteran railway campaigner and retired Financial Director of the Stratford Herald, at Wilmcote Railway Station on Tuesday 8 February 2022.
Pictured: Fraser Pithie, Treasurer of Friends of the Shakespeare Line, veteran railway campaigner Michael Brockington, Roz Wyles Daughter of the late Douglas King) John Philps, Lead Station volunteer at Wilmcote station and Anabel King-Murphy (daughter of the late Douglas King)
The occasion was the unveiling of a plaque in memory of Anabel's and Roz’s late father, Douglas King, who lived at Wilmcote until he died in 2008. Mr King practised as a solicitor in Birmingham.
As a regular user of the train service in the 1960's Douglas became involved in the campaign to stop British Railways from closing the railway between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon which was announced in 1966.
Mr King acted as solicitor for the North Warwickshire Line Defence Committee, known today as the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group which is the Rail User Group for the line. Mr King's dedication led, within just three days of the line's proposed closure taking place, to the Court of Appeal granting an injunction against the British Railways Board that effectively saved the line.
The Stratford - Birmingham line is believed to be only railway line in the UK to have had a court injunction imposed upon it and which stopped the British Railways Board from closing it.
Mr King had acted immediately on information from another campaigner against the line's closure Michael Brockington. As the then Financial Director at the Stratford Herald, Mr Brockington learned that British Railways had requested the publication of a schedule of the alternative bus services (which had not been approved) and confirmation that the railway line would close to passengers in May 1969.
Douglas King, working in Birmingham, needed a copy of the proposed public notice immediately. Realising the issue's importance, Michael Brockington got the Herald's typesetters to pull out all the stops, produce the plate, and print a copy off.
Next, Mr Brockington boarded a train at Stratford and took the copy direct to Mr King in Birmingham, enabling him to act and institute proceedings at the Court of Appeal.
Of all the journeys made by passengers throughout the NWL's history, Michael Brockington's trip to Birmingham that day must rank being the most critical for the railway.
The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group and the Friends of the Shakespeare Line have paid for the memorial plaque.
Fraser Pithie, Treasurer of Friends of the Shakespeare Lind and John Philps, one of the lead volunteers at Wilmcote station, were also present for the unveiling.
Fraser Pithie said, "This plaque is long overdue, and we wanted to put that right. It is fabulous that Michael Brockington and Douglas's daughters Anabel and Roz are all here today to unveil this plaque and remember and commend Douglas King's tenacity as a solicitor, which undoubtedly stopped Stratford upon Avon and towns and villages along the railway route from losing their train service."