Ashchurch is a village and former civil parish in Gloucestershire. The parish was originally called Eastchurch, due to its position east of the parish and town of Tewkesbury, and had a population of 6,064 at the 2001 UK census.
The former Ashchurch Parish covered the village of Ashchurch, the large Northway estate, and the settlements of Aston Cross, Aston on Carrant, Pamington and Natton. The village and housing and industrial estates run directly into Tewkesbury itself to the west: Tewkesbury School, and a number of factories whose postal addresses read Tewkesbury were actually in the parish of Ashchurch.
The new parish of Northway is bordered on the west side by the M5 motorway, on the east by the Birmingham to Bristol main railway line, on the south by the A46 road and on the north by the boundary with Worcestershire. Northway was expanded significantly during the latter half of the 20th Century, owing largely to needs of rehousing shortly after World War II. An area of pre-fabricated houses still exists in the estate, although heavily modified and modernised. Additions to the earliest developments have progressed right up to the present day. One newer development, commonly referred to as 'Saxon Park', built upon the former site of a factory that was once a part of Dowty Seals, sparked much controversy as many homes were significantly damaged in the Summer Floods of 2007 despite being less than a year old. Other areas of the parish were hit particularly badly, e.g. Kestrel Way and Sallis Close.
The village is served by Ashchurch for Tewkesbury railway station on the Birmingham to Bristol main line, opened by the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway on 24 June 1840, later a part of the Midland Railway and later still the LMS. This was once a railway centre of some importance, as it was the spring-off point for two branches, one each side of the main line:
- The Evesham line, actually a lengthy loop serving Evesham, Alcester and Redditch, re-joining the main line at Barnt Green, near Bromsgrove. This line closed between Evesham and Redditch on 15 October 1962 due to poor condition of the track, while Ashchurch to Evesham followed on 17 June 1963 (Redditch to Barnt Green remains open on the electrified Birmingham suburban network).
- The line to Tewkesbury, Upton-upon-Severn and Malvern, closed beyond Upton on 1 December 1952, Ashchurch to Upton following on 14 August 1961. At this time Ashchurch station was renamed Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, but it too was to close, on 15 November 1971, reopening on 1 June 1997. There used to be a connecting curve linking the two branches, crossing the main line on the level just north of the station, creating a layout which may have been unique in Britain, but this curve closed in December 1957. There was an extensive goods yard to the south, and to the north west a large grain store.
The remains of the old line are still apparent, with much of its infrastructure in existence. The old connecting curve and the two branches it served can clearly be traced on a map. With much of the Ashchurch to Tewkesbury line now being used as a Cycle and Footpath, this section proved valuable during the 2007 floods as it was the only dry route into, and out of, Tewkesbury at the time.
The main road (formerly the A438) from Ledbury through Tewkesbury before meeting the old A46 at Toddington used to be one of the main transport routes East West from the Marches. Now itself renamed the A46, it crosses over the main railway line via a bridge which for decades was a thorn in the side of motorists owing to its narrowness, steep approaches and poor visibility. Tinkered with several times over the years but only providing limited improvement, a new wider bridge and minor bypass was built adjacent but to the north in 2003/4 to confirm its status as a through route. The old road now serves as a feeder for the primary school and houses, the bridge being dismantled.
LCS Ashchurch, known locally as "Ashchurch Camp", is the UK MOD's primary vehicle storage and distribution site for all types of armoured and soft skinned vehicles, together with Royal Engineer bridges, boats and construction plant. The Centre is the only vehicle depot in the UK using Controlled Humidity Environments (CHE) for long-term vehicle storage.
In March 2012, the UK MOD's Defence Infrastructure Organisation, confirmed its intention to consult publicly on proposals to redevelop 'MOD Ashchurch' for creation of a sustainable mixed use development, likely to include new homes, community and local retail facilities, primary school, employment uses and open space.
Another key employer with a large premises at Ashchurch is the company founded by British inventor and businessman Sir George Dowty (1901-1975). Two divisions of the company were once based at Ashchurch: Dowty Seals and Dowty Mining, but only Seals maintains a current presence there.
Ashchurch pays host to more or less half of Tewkesbury's industry with several businesses growing up around the M5 motorway junction.
- "Homes on Ashchurch Army camp site looking likely". Gloucestershire Echo. 15 March 2012. http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Homes-Ashchurch-Army-camp-site-looking-likely/story-15522974-detail/story.html. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|