Wilmcote Railway Station
A small village just north of Stratford. Minimal station facilities.
Wilmcote was recorded in the Domesday Book, which was completed in 1086. King John seized the area in 1205.
Mary Arden was born in Wilmcote around 1540. A farmer's daughter, she married John Shakespeare, moved to Stratford upon Avon, and gave birth to William Shakespeare, who is recognised as the greatest English playwright ever. Mary Arden's Farm, now owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, is open to the public and houses a countryside life museum.
There is a consensus among scholars that Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is set in rural Warwickshire. One character mentioned, however, allows for a greater localisation – to the village of Wilmcote. Sly, the drunken tinker, implores the Lord: "Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if she know me not".
Wilmcote contains areas of good limestone, and a significant quarrying industry grew up in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly after the opening of the Stratford upon Avon Canal in 1816, which was routed through Wilmcote because of its quarries. Today the area has many small disused quarries, mostly filled in, and just-visible tramways linking them to the canal.
Wilmcote's first railway station opened in 1860, with the station being rebuilt slightly south of the original with two platforms in 1907 when the Great Western Railway doubled and upgraded the route to mainline standards. The upgrade work incorporated the route into the North Warwickshire Line that created a new mainline route for the GWR between Birmingham and Cheltenham.
Wilmcote station is situated at the crest of a 1 in 75 incline, from Stratford, known as 'Wilmcote Bank'. In the days of steam locomotives up until the mid-1960s', express passenger and heavy freight trains were 'banked' by a second but uncoupled steam locomotive that would push the rear of the train as the locomotive at the front pulled its train up the incline.
Consequently, Wilmcote remains a favourite location for photographers who like to take images of a steam locomotive working hard. The steam-hauled Shakespeare Express operated by Vintage Trains at Tyseley still runs along the route at certain times.
Until the mid-1960's the route was used by express passenger services operating between Birmingham Snow Hill, Cardiff and Swansea and the famous ‘Cornishman’ that ran between Wolverhampton and Penzance calling at Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford upon Avon.
Mary Arden's House; the Shakespeare Countryside Museum.
Wilmcote Railway Station, Station Road, Wilmcote, Warwickshire CV37 9UP