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Premise for a fantasy


28XX

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I have followed The Archers since being introduced to it by my girlfriend, now my wife, over 25 years ago. For all its crazy plot lines it keeps a subtle foothold in real geography and relates to real world events in a way TV can never do. For the uninitiated, the action takes place in the imaginary county of Borsetshire. This occupies the physical area of East Worcestershire, West Warwickshire and North Gloucestershire, but in a different time-space continuum.

 

There is even a map of the middle part of the county.

 

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One piece of the real world which appears regularly in the programme is the Oxford - Worcester railway line. Running East to West, the stations today are Felpersham and Hollerton Junction, which are the Borsetshire alternatives to Evesham and Pershore.

 

The branch line which follows the River Am from Hollerton Jcn. is now preserved and called the Blackberry Line, whether it ever went any further than Croft is doubtful. My feeling is that it was built as a light railway from the outset, for agricultural traffic. Some farms in the Vale of Evesham had their own sidings, such as Spring Hill which connected with the OWW at Fladbury, perhaps the Blackberry Line was a larger version.

 

There is also a line which turns South from the OWW between Hollerton and Felpersham. This leads to the Aymestry Forest coalfield in South Borsetshire, then on to Ashchurch on the Birmingham - Bristol main line. Aymestry is actually a hamlet 3 miles West of Worcester, scene of many childhood adventures. For the purposes of this fantasy, it is a bit like the Forest of Dean.

 

Assuming the BBC map was drawn post-Beeching, I also postulate another GWR-owned line which left the OWW by a triangle junction at Netherbourne and followed the river Perch to Borchester. There is definately a Railway Hotel in Borchester which has been the scene of various secret assignations. A line linking the largest town (Felpersham) with the County Town (Borchester) would certainly be regarded as a necessity in the 19th century. This leads us on to the mysterious town of Stourhampton. Home to the industrial-scale Stourhampton Brewery, purveyor of Shires Ales, it featured in several stories in the early days but little is heard of it now. I like to think of it as being analogous to Redditch and being the next major station North of Borchester, the line continuing into Brum, not via Alvechurch, but on a direct route through Maypole and Kings Heath, eventually joining the Didcot-Chester line at Bordesley.

 

I think the Midland would have wanted a piece of the action at Stourhampton too, so the line from Barnt Green goes there and then becomes the SA&MJ to Stratford.

 

The Midland would have negotiated running powers to provide a service between Felpersham and Ashchurch via a curve, since lifted, and also between Barnt Green and Felpersham.

 

The pre-Beeching map looks like this.

 

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Classical disclaimer: Other flights of fancy have been followed from this starting point. I have no wish to proseletize mine as being in any way superior to others.

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This is a lovely post!

 

Along the lines of something I'd been thinking about recently - I became an Archers listener once I began working in a singalbox on my own with the radio for company! I think the area has real potential for acting as the setting for models. Ray Earl's layouts used the names, although LNWR based and, of course, Frank Dyer's Borchester Market used the name too. Though his geographical placement of Borchester is some way out from where the BBC consider it to be.

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Lovely post and great idea. I too am a fan of The Archers and have often mused of the premise of setting a layout in Borsetshire. Potential for cross over between the GWR and LMS as noted.

 

I have also considered it as the basis for an independent railway too, Borsetshire Light Railway anyone!? A little branchline from Hollerton Junction sounds like a good idea to me, serving Ambridge and Borchester.

 

There are a number of books on the history/geography of The Archers picking around and a few maps such as the one in this post. Therefore plenty of opportunity for developing a fictional railway history for the area.

 

PS - sorry for dragging this up from way in the past but it was linked to from a currently topic!

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