This railway was authorised by the Worcester and Hereford Railway Act, 1853 and it opened in stages from 1859 to 1861 and remains open. Henwick to Malvern Link opened on 25th July 1859 (Ref: Worcester Evening News, 24th July 1959), Henwick to Worcester Shrub Hill on 17th May 1860, Great Malvern to Malvern Wells on 25th May 1860. Malvern Wells to Shelwick Junction (Hereford) opened on 17th September 1861. The Worcester and Hereford Railway became part of the West Midland Railway on 1st July 1861 and the Great Western Railway on 1st August 1863. The contractors were Thomas Brassey, a well known engineer and Stephen Ballard of Colwall. Ballard was a local having been born in Malvern.
The line starts at Worcester Shrub Hill Station and after heading north to skirt the perimeter of the locomotive sheds it crossed the Vinegar Works Branch line on the level, turning west to pass over the Worcester & Birmingham Canal on a long embankment to Worcester Foregate Street Station. See also the 1973 track rationalisation scheme.
The line continues across the city on a viaduct. A short siding known as 'The Butts Branch' descended from the north side of the viaduct down to river level, whilst the line itself crossed over the River Severn (N.B. that the current railway bridge was built in 1905). Immediately after crossing the river the line passes the site of Worcester Power Station. There were five small stations between Worcester and Malvern at Henwick (where the goods yard was connected to the works of the Mining Engineering Co Ltd), Boughton Halt (opened 1924) and Rushwick Halt (opened 1924).
Shortly after the railway crosses the River Teme and before arriving at Bransford Station the Bromyard branch diverged to the right at Bransford Road Junction. The next stops were at Bransford Road and Newland Halt (opened 1929). All of the stations between Foregate Street and Malvern Link were closed on 3rd April 1965.
The line reaches Malvern on a graceful curve and two stations remain here, at Malvern Link and Great Malvern. Between the two stations the line is in a cutting as it crosses the ancient grassland of Link Common. About a mile to the east of Great Malvern Station was the non-rail connected plant yard of the Severn River Authority.
The line then runs past Malvern & Tewkesbury Junction (where the Midland Railway had a water tank and turntable) for the Midland Railway line to Ashchurch (closed in 1952) and the closed station at Malvern Wells (GWR) before entering a long tunnel (1,567 yards) under the Malvern Hills. There were several narrow gauge quarry railways on the Malvern Hills.
There was a second station at Malvern Wells (Hanley Road) on the MR branch line from Ashchurch to Malvern.
When the line emerges on the other side of the hills it is in Herefordshire where there are stations at Colwall and Ledbury (where there is tunnel of 1,323 yards) before the line arrives at Hereford.