Category Archives: Some Early Lines

Posts about lines and branches which ceased operations – some restored, some sadly lost for ever.

Some Early Lines – Verney Junction

Some early Lines

Verney Junction

 Station site in 2005, stationmaster’s house to the right. As of April 2007 the view was much the same – rails are intact (save for some 60–100 foot segments near Bletchley) but low weeds are growing on much of the line between Bicester and Bletchley. This image was taken from the Geograph project collection.  See this photograph’s page on the Geograph website for the photographer’s contact details. The copyright on this image is owned by Hywel Williams and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.


Original company Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway and Great Western Railway (1868–1891)

Pre-grouping Metropolitan Railway (1891–1906) and Great Central Railway (1899–1906)

Metropolitan & Great Central Joint Committee (1906–1923)

Post-grouping London and North Eastern Railway (1923–1948)

Eastern Region of British Railways (1948–1962)

London Midland Region of British Railways (1962–1968)

Platforms 3


23 September 1868 Opened

6 July 1936 Metropolitan passenger services withdrawn

6 January 1964 Closed to goods

1 January 1968 Closed to passengers

One of the L&NWR Cauliflower Class 0-6-0s which throughout their long career were frequently to be seen on passenger trains.  At Verney Junction in 1936, with an Oxford – Cambridge cross-country local, – H.C.Casserley.

Verney Junction was a railway station at a junction serving four directions between 1868 and 1968 and from where excursions as far as Ramsgate could be booked. Situated fifty miles from Baker Street, the station is one of London’s disused Underground stations and, although it never carried heavy traffic, it was important in the expansion of the Metropolitan Railway into what became Metro-land.


Verney Junction opened in 1868 as northern terminus of the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway’s (A&BR) single track from Aylesbury. The station was at a junction with the London and North Western Railway’s (LNWR) Bletchley to Oxford line, 1.75 miles (2.82 km) east of Steeple Claydon, and constructed to a rudimentary design at the cost of the A&BR, whose progress it viewed with disfavour.

Plans to extend the railway north to Buckingham never materialised and Verney Junction remained remote with a few cottages for tenants of Claydon House estate. Claydon’s occupant, Sir Harry Verney, was on the board of the A&BR which was chaired by the Duke of Buckingham, and he invested heavily in the scheme. There being no settlement from which the station could take its name, it was named in honour of Sir Harry, who was later to have another nearby station – Calvert – named after him; he had been born Harry Calvert, and took the surname Verney in order to inherit his late cousin’s estates in 1827.

Early years

The A&BR initially began advertising services to and from Banbury, Oxford and Bletchley but the LNWR attempted to isolate the A&BR by encouraging passengers to take its longer route to Aylesbury via Bletchley and Cheddington. The A&BR turned to the Great Western Railway (GWR), with whom it managed Aylesbury,) to agree to services over the GWR’s Wycombe Railway; the Wycombe line was converted to standard gauge on 23 October 1868 and A&BR services were reinstated.

The GWR worked the A&BR for more than 20 years, turning down the chance to acquire it in 1874, although for the first six years the route was operated by the A&BR’s own staff, except for footplate crews who were GWR employees. Traffic was initially “almost non-existent” due to Verney Junction’s rural locality, but the Metropolitan Railway under the influence of Sir Edward Watkin nevertheless saw an opportunity for growth and absorbed the A&BR on 1 July 1891. The A&BR would be the line that the London Extension of Watkin’s Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) would meet at Quainton Road. In anticipation of the connection, the A&BR was doubled by 1897 and the Metropolitan extended its line from Chalfont Road to Aylesbury in 1892.

Verney Junction, on the old LNWR line from Bletchley to Oxford, was also the meeting of lines from Banbury (LNWR) and the Met./GC from Quainton Road and all points south.  Webb 2-4-2 radial tank No.6704 from Banbury passes Metropolitan 4-4-4 tank No.107 on 2nd May, 1936. – H.C.Casserley

Decline and closure

Although the two World Wars brought an increase in freight traffic from Verney Junction to London, with considerable volumes of freight passing through the station’s transfer sidings, the post-war period saw a decline in the station’s fortunes. The closure of the Aylesbury-Verney section by the LPTB in 1936, severing the connection to Buckingham, was followed by the removal of one of the line’s tracks on 28 January 1940. In the same year, freight traffic through Verney Junction was substantially diminished by the construction on 14 September 1940 of a connecting spur between the LNWR and GCR lines at Calvert which enabled freight from the Oxford-Bletchley route to work south over the Great Central Main Line without having to pass over the Verney Junction-Quainton Road section.

By the end of 1940, Verney Junction was effectively left “severed from its purpose”,having little usefulness other than as a rural interchange for local services. It played a useful part in the transfer of goods between the interconnecting lines, but passenger traffic declined in the face of the availability of more direct routes to and from Banbury and Oxford. Goods services were withdrawn in 1964, with passenger services following in 1968.

After closure, the track on the northern section of the A&BR between Verney Junction and Winslow Road was retained until the early 1960s, including the former Metropolitan sidings which were subsequently used for storing veteran railway vehicles.

Here, the course of the Quainton Road to Verney Junction branch (now lifted) can be seen running in parallel with the main line railway (now also disused) just outside Verney Junction station.  © Copyright Hywel Williams and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway

Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway

  This view of the Headstone Viaduct across Monsal Dale typifies the country through which the line passed.  Date 31 March 2009. Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by User:Mato using CommonsHelper.  Author Rob Bendall (Highfields)

 Sketch map of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Railway and connections

The various routes followed by the Midland into Manchester

The Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway ran from a junction with the Midland Railway at Ambergate to Rowsley north of Matlock and thence to Buxton.

In time it would become part of the Midland Railway’s main line between London and Manchester, but it was initially planned as a route from Manchester to the East of England, via the proposed Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston and Eastern Junction Railway which would meet it a little further north along the North Midland line at Ambergate. The Act for a line from just south of Stockport to Ambergate was passed in 1846.

Kirtley Goods No.2777 in the picturesque setting of England’s ‘Little Switzerland’.

Ambergate to Rowsley

The initial plan was for the line to proceed from Ambergate where the ANB&EJR terminated, through Matlock and Buxton to a junction with the Manchester and Birmingham Railway just south of Stockport which would allow it to run into Manchester. It received Parliamentary Assent in 1846.

The line opened as far as Rowsley in 1849, but went no further, having run out of money giving its promoters something of a problem.

Matlock Bath had long been a tourist town. Since the station at Ambergate had been opened, tourists had been brought in by coach and canal. Around thirty coaches had passed that way each day, with sixty or seventy thousand visitors going on to Chatsworth House. The aim then was to develop the trade further.

The Midland Railway had held shares in the line since it had been first proposed in 1845, its interest being an extension onto its route to London. The Manchester and Birmingham had for some time been looking for a route of its own, and had considered a line through the Churnet Valley (later built by the North Staffordshire Railway), but had instead supported the alternative Matlock route with a substantial shereholding. However in 1846 it had merged with other lines to become the LNWR, which clearly could not contemplate a competing London line. In 1852 the two companies agreed to lease the line jointly for 19 years, In addition, the Midland would work the line and pay a rent on it, and also take over the Cromford Canal.

Excursion Train near Miller’s Dale leaving Clee Tor tunnel on Easter Monday, 1956.

Rowsley to Buxton

In 1853, a junction was made to the southern end of the Cromford and High Peak Railway now LNWR-owned, at High Peak Junction, and with the latter’s support, the Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway connected Manchester to the northern end. In 1857, with the LNWR’s barely concealed support, the SD&WBR then gained permission to extend to Buxton. It did so by a roundabout route along a massive escarpment to the east of the Goyt Valley, such that it could never become a through express route. Nevertheless, in 1860, the Midland gained permission to build a line from Rowsley to meet it at Buxton.

It was the first time the Midland had built in such difficult terrain, with steep hills and deep valleys, Buxton itself being some 1000 feet above sea level. The line followed the River Wye as far as Bakewell, with the complication of the cut and cover Haddon Tunnel, and reached Hassop in 1862 There then followed two viaducts – at Millers Dale and Monsal Dale – and eight tunnels, reaching Buxton in 1863  at almost the same time as the LNWR reached it from Whaley Bridge.

All this time passengers were having to change at Ambergate, but in the same year, the Midland added a south-facing junction and moved the station to allow through travel from Derby and the south. However, there was still the problem of the joint control of the line.

For many years, the town of Wirksworth had been campaigning for a branch line from Duffield. The CH&PR was interested, but had insufficient funds. The Midland was initially unenthusiastic, but then realised that the branch could be extended to Rowsley, avoiding the section to Ambergate, being unsure about what might occur when joint lease expired in 1871.

However, the LNWR gave up its share of the line when the lease expired. It was, after all, remote and isolated from the company’s main system. The Midland was therefore relieved of the necessity of extending from Wirksworth over a very difficult piece of terrain. The branch opened to Wirksworth in 1867 but was not carried further.

Blackwell Mill, Miller’s Dale in 1932, showing a freight train with class 4 goods No.4043

Later history

The Midland at last had its route into Manchester from London. Over the years it made some improvements. The route from Romiley through Hyde entailed a long detour, so in 1875 a new more direct line was opened through Reddish.

In 1865 the Midland had become a partner of the Cheshire Lines Committee which opened Manchester Central railway station in 1880. Therefore the MIdland transferred most of its trains there, at first reaching it through Stockport Tiviot Dale. However the route became increasingly congested and was hardly suitable as an express route, so in 1897, the Midalnd opened a new line from New Mills through Disley Tunnel and Heaton Mersey.


The line from Matlock to Buxton was closed in 1968 by the Labour Minister for Transport, Barbara Castle, not as it is often thought by the Beeching reforms. Continuing support is being given by a heritage group Peak Rail who have restored the section from Matlock to Rowsley. The line from Matlock to Ambergate, plus the section of the Midland Main Line to Derby, are now referred to as the Derwent Valley Line. Meanwhile, the Wirksworth branch still exists and is currently being restored as the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.

Current status

Although the track has been lifted between Rowsley and Buxton and is now part of the Monsal Trail, plans to re-open it are still proposed from time to time, and the Derbyshire County Council has pledged to keep the trackbed free of development.

Part of the line has been re-opened by the heritage railway organisation Peak Rail who run services from Matlock to Rowsley, at a current distance of 4 miles in length.

There are plans to extend to Bakewell via the site of Rowsley railway station and a Proposed Haddon halt as part of the Buxton extension project. It will involve reinstating the whole section and Bakewell railway station to their former use once planning permission has been granted, plus full restoration of the old Haddon Tunnel and both Coombs Road and Rowsley Viaducts (along the way between both Bakewell and Rowsley themselves).

Dore & Totley tunnel, second longest in the British Isles, 3 miles 946 yards, on the direct route between Manchester and Sheffield.

A Quartet of Four tunnels ‘(Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton and Chee Tor) all located between Great Longstone and of course both Peak Forest & Blackwell Mill’ were re-opened to walkers and cyclists in May 2011

Britain’s fourth longest tunnels, 3 miles 313 yards, are through the same Pennine range, on the old Great Central, also between Manchester and Sheffield.  This view, taken in 1947, shows a Great Northern ‘Atlantic’ leaving one of the original tunnels, now closed and replaced by two new adjacent bores to accommodate electric working.

Some Early Lines & Museum – Lytham St. Annes Corporation Tramways

Some Early Lines & Museum

 Lytham St. Annes Corporation Tramways

The Chasewater Railway Museum has been given a small wooden box with a copper lid, inscribed ‘Lytham St.Annes Corporation Tramways   1896 – 1037′

Inside the lid is the inscription ‘British Insulated Cables Ltd. Prescot, Lancs’  and ‘Manufactured from Empire Copper’

The handle is made from a piece of the tramway cable.

    Map of the Lytham St Annes Corporation Tramways

The Lytham St. Annes Corporation Tramways and its predecessor companies operated an electric tramway service in Lytham St Annes between 1903 and 1937.


Tramway schemes in Lytham St. Annes had been proposed since 1878, but no progress was made until The Blackpool, St. Annes and Lytham Tramway Order of 1896. Under this order, a tramway was constructed from the terminus of the Blackpool tramway at South Shore Railway Station. The new line opened on 11 July 1896, operated by the British Gas Traction Company. The extension to Lytham opened in February 1897, and the fleet of compressed coal gas trams eventually reached 20. The gas powered trams were not successful, and horse cars were also obtained. The scheme was eventually unsuccessful and the company sold out.

The Blackpool, St. Annes and Lytham Tramways Company purchased the assets of the former company for £115,000 (£9,227,226 as of 2012), and in 1900 an act authorised an electric tramway to rebuild the route. The newly electrified tramway was opened on 28 May 1903.

On 28 October 1920 St. Annes Council purchased the assets of the company for £132,279 (£3,939,484 as of 2012). The trams were rebranded with the inscription “St Annes Council Tramways”.

In 1922 the borough of Lytham St. Annes was incorporated. The trams were re-branded with “Lytham St. Annes” and later “Lytham St. Annes Corporation”


The last tram between Lytham and St Annes ran in 1936. The remainder of the system closed on 28 April 1937.

Some Early Lines Conwy Valley Line Llandudno Junction- Blaenau Festiniog Line

Some Early Lines

Conwy Valley Line

(Llandudno Junction- Blaenau Festiniog Line)

Manchester – Llandudno express approaching Llandudno Junction

View eastward, towards Colwyn Bay and Chester: ex-LNW Chester – Holyhead main line, with the branch to Blaenau Ffestiniog curving away to the right up the Conwy Valley. This is the 13.40 from Manchester Exchange via Chester, with No. 44687, one of the two later Ivatt-modified Stanier 5MT 4-6-0s with double-chimney, Caprotti valve gear and roller-bearings (built 6/51, withdrawn 1/66).  © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

  Conwy Valley Line

Bala and Festiniog Railway

The Conwy Valley Line (Welsh: Llinell Dyffryn Conwy) is a railway line in north Wales. It runs from Llandudno via Llandudno Junction (Welsh: Cyffordd Llandudno) to Blaenau Ffestiniog, and was originally part of the London and North Western Railway, being opened in stages to 1879. The primary purpose of the line was to carry slate from the Ffestiniog quarries to a specially built quay at Deganwy for export by sea. The line also provided goods facilities for the market town of Llanrwst, and via the extensive facilities at Betws-y-Coed on the London to Holyhead A5 turnpike road it served many isolated communities in Snowdonia and also the developing tourist industry. Although a little over 27 miles (43 km) between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog the journey takes over one hour. Most of the stations along the route are treated as a request stop.


The first section from Llandudno Junction to Llanrwst (now called North Llanrwst) was built as the Conway and Llanrwst Railway and opened in 1863. The LNWR took over in 1863 and opened the extension to Betws-y-Coed in 1868.

Goods train coming off the Conwy Valley branch at Llandudno Junction

View eastward, towards Colwyn Bay and Chester on the ex-LNW North Wales main line, Blaenau Ffestiniog on the branch. The locomotive (running bunker-first) is LMS Ivatt 2MT 2-6-2T No. 41235 (built 9/49, withdrawn 11/62). A DMU recedes eastward on the main line.  © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The next extension was to Blaenau Ffestiniog to access the output of the large slate quarries there. The LNWR first proposed a narrow gauge railway via the steeply graded Lledr Valley to Blaenau Ffestiniog. After construction began, it was decided that the extension would be built to standard gauge, allowing through running of trains. Between 1874 and 1879 the railway tunnel underneath Moel Dyrnogydd was bored, allowing the extension to open in 1881.

Steam has now virtually disappeared from the old LNWR branch from Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Festiniog.  The last Surviving regular steam train is the daily goods, usually hauled by an ‘Ivatt’ Class 2  2-6-2 tank.  No.41228 approaches Llanrwst on 10th August, 1960. – Derek Cross

Blaenau Ffestiniog’s other standard gauge railway, the Bala and Festiniog Railway, was closed to all traffic in 1961, and a portion was flooded in the creation of the Llyn Celyn reservoir. A rail connection was desired for the nuclear power station under construction at Trawsfynydd, and a connecting line was built from Blaenau Ffestiniog North to the site of the demolished Blaenau Ffestiniog Central station for freight use. With the reconstruction of the Ffestiniog Railway, passenger services were relocated to a new joint station on the site of the old Central station in 1982. Regular freight traffic to Trawsfynydd ceased in the 1990s, and the power station is being decommissioned.

A railcar set from Llandudno to Blaenau Festiniog leaves Bettws-y-Coed on 10th August, 1960.  This branch was originally projected as a narrow gauge line to link up with the Festiniog Railway. – Derek Cross

Modern services

Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway Station

 On the left of the picture, Arriva Trains Wales British Rail Class 153 DMU 153327 stands at the standard gage platform for a Conwy Valley Line service. While on the right of the picture the narrow gage Ffestiniog Railway locomotive Linda is about to run-round the train in preparation for the journey to Porthmadog. Note also the different platform heights for the different gauges.

Date 18 June 2006  Source Own work  Author Chris McKenna (Thryduulf)

Chris McKenna (en:User:Thryduulf), the copyright holder of this work, hereby publishes it under the following license:   This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

 The line from Llandudno Junction to Blaenau is single track, and includes the longest single track railway tunnel in the United Kingdom (over 2.5 miles / 4.02 kilometres). Between Llandudno Junction and Llandudno the service uses the double track branch line from the North Wales Coast Line. The fully signalled passing loop at North Llanrwst is the last remaining between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog and trains on the branch must stop at the signal box there to exchange tokens for the single line sections on either side.

North Llanrwst station platforms – railcar leaving for Blaenau Ffestiniog

Photo taken by  Noel Walley  Date 9 June 2006 (original upload date)

 Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.

The train service is operated by Arriva Trains Wales and is being marketed as the Conwy Valley Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Dyffryn Conwy). A feature of the service is the availability on Conwy Valley trains as well as on local buses in Snowdonia of the new “Tocyn Taith” day ticket. The services run every three hours on weekdays and Saturdays, with six departures per day each way in total. There is also a limited (three each way) summer Sunday service in operation from the beginning of the summer timetable in May until early September

From 20 May 2007, Concessionary Travel Pass holders resident in Conwy and Gwynedd have been able to travel free of charge on the Conwy Valley Railway line between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog, as well as between Llandudno Junction and Llandudno on all Arriva Trains Wales services, as a result of funding provided by the Welsh Assembly Government. Also, there are plans to upgrade the line to take slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog to the coast, sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government

150253 heading into the Lledr Valley in the Summer of 2007. This unit has now been repainted into Arriva’s standard livery.

Author Elganthomas

 Licensing:  I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following licenses: Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

  The original line terminated at the North Western station (where there were extensive slate yards) to the west of Blaenau Ffestiniog town centre. However, following the closure and removal of a section of the former Great Western Railway line from Bala, a short section of new railway was built alongside the Ffestiniog Railway Company’s narrow gauge line in order to connect the Conwy Valley Line with the isolated section of the GWR line, which had been retained to serve the nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd. Years later a new Blaenau Ffestiniog station was constructed in the centre of the town. Beyond the new station, the line was used only for goods traffic connected with Trawsfynydd, although occasional special passenger trains have been run at times. In recent years, the traffic from Trawsfynydd has ceased completely and the line has been disconnected from the Conwy Valley Line just outside Blaenau Ffestiniog station.

There are connections at Llandudno Junction with the North Wales Coast Line (the main line between London and Holyhead) and at Blaenau Ffestiniog with the Ffestiniog Railway to Porthmadog.

For her last few years ex LNWR superheated ‘Precursor’ class 4-4-0 No.25297 was stationed at Chester, often working over the branch to Denbigh and Corwen.  Prior to that, in 1947, she was at Llandudno Junction working the North Wales coast trains, sometimes loaded up to ten bogies.  An unusual duty was this turn on the Blaenau Festiniog branch, ‘Sirocco’ was the last of the LNWR 4-4-0s and at one time there was talk of preserving her, but she was withdrawn before the more enlightened era of locomotive preservation had begun. – C.F.H.Oldham

Some Early Lines – North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway

Some Early Lines

North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway

Map of the Line

North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway

North Devon Railway

Torrington –  River Torridge – Watergate Halt –  Yarde Halt – Dunsbear Halt

Marland Works – Petrockstow –  Meeth Works –  Wooladon Clay Pits

Meeth Halt – Hatherleigh –  Hole –   Okehampton to Bude Line to Bude

 North Cornwall Railway

Halwill Junction –   Okehampton to Bude Line to Okehampton

Highampton: Course of the Railway

The line was the North Devon & Cornwall Junction Light Railway, the last significant railway to be constructed in the south west, opened in July 1925. It linked Great Torrington with Halwill Junction where there were trains to Exeter, Bude and Padstow. Looking east  © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway was a railway built to serve numerous ball clay pits that lay in the space between the London and South Western Railway’s Torrington branch, an extension of the North Devon Railway group, and Halwill, an important rural junction on the North Cornwall Railway and its Okehampton to Bude Line.

Ball clay was an important mineral but its weight and bulk required efficient transportation; the material had been brought to main line railways by a 3 ft (914 mm) gauge tramway. Expanding volumes prompted conversion to a light railway — requiring less complex engineering and operational procedures than a full railway — and it was opened on 27 July 1925.

Hatherleigh –

Passengers were carried in addition to the mineral traffic, but the business largely consisted of workers at the ball clay pits themselves. (Thomas says, “The largest place on the railway is Hatherleigh … a market town in the centre of a barren countryside, it is badly decayed”.)

The conversion from a tramway was overseen by Colonel Stephens, the famous owner and operator of marginal English and Welsh railways. Although in construction details typically Stephens this was visually a Southern Railway branch line . It survived in independent status until nationalisation of the railways in 1948, and continued in operation until 1 March 1965. The northern part from Meeth and Marland, which was reconstructed from the narrow gauge railway, continued to carry ball clay, but not passengers, until August 1982.

Meeth Halt (disused)

The North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway closed in 1965. This must always have been a tiny station. It now serves as a starting point for a cyclepath along the former line as a branch of the Tarka Trail.  © Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Built as cheaply as possible, and partly following the alignment of the former tramway, the railway had continuous sharp curves and ruling gradients in the range of 1 in 45 to 1 in 50.

The line was single throughout, worked by Electric Train Token, and with a maximum speed of 20 mph from Torrington to Dunsbear Halt, and 25 mph from there to Halwill.

The 1964/65 working timetable shows two throughout trains each way daily, taking about 80 minutes by diesel multiple unit for the 20 mile journey. There were three freight trains Mondays to Fridays serving the clay sidings from the Torrington end. There were no trains on Sundays.

Halwill Junction –


Some Early Lines – Blenheim and Woodstock Branch Line

Some Early Lines

Blenheim and Woodstock Branch Line

1420 waiting at Shipton on Cherwell station –

The Blenheim and Woodstock Branch Line was a 4 miles (6.4 km) long railway branch line that ran from Kidlington railway station along the Cherwell Valley Line north to Shipton-on-Cherwell where the line branched off west past Shipton-on-Cherwell Halt towards Woodstock.

Woostock Station –

Constructed by the 7th Duke of Marlborough, the line opened in 1874 and was privately run until 1897 when it became part of the Great Western Railway. In 1929, a halt was added to the line at Shipton-on-Cherwell primarily to serve the Oxford and Shipton Cement Company limestone quarry and cement works. The number of trains serving the station was cut in the late 1930s, and again in 1952 down to only six trains a day. These cuts in the frequency of trains along the Woodstock branch line produced two-hour waits at Kidlington for a connection. British Railways closed the branch line in early 1952 with the last train adorned with a wreath. The track was lifted in 1958.GWR 517 Class on a mixed train.  In 1898 No. 1473 was named Fair Rosamund, to work a royal train on the Oxford-Woodstock branch. The engine was the usual one for the Woodstock branch in subsequent years.

(9 October 2010 (original upload date)) Source Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Oxyman using CommonsHelper.  (Original text : old print) Author unknown. Original uploader was 8474tim at en.wikipedia Permission  (Reusing this file)  This image is in the public domain due to its age.

Blenheim & Woodstock Station (remains) View SW, towards buffer-stops; terminus of ex-GWR branch from Kidlington, closed compleletely 1/3/54 – so quite well-preserved after 7 years, but a dump for old cars and farm equipment!

Date 24 March 1961 Source From Author Ben Brooksbank Permission  (Reusing this file)  Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

Some Early Lines – The Chippenham and Calne Line

Some Early Lines

The Chippenham and Calne Line

Calne Station

 The Chippenham and Calne Line was a five mile long Great Western Railway built single track branch railway line that ran along the valley of the River Marden in Wiltshire, England, that ran from Chippenham railway station on the Great Western Main Line to Calne via two intermediate stations, Stanley Bridge Halt, and Black Dog Halt.


On 8 November 1859, the first meeting to discuss opening a branch line from the GWR at Chippenham to Calne was held. The Calne Railway Company was formed and Parliament granted the necessary Act on 15 May 1860. Built as a replacement for the overwhelmed Melksham Calne and Chippenham Branch of the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal, the line was authorised on 15 May 1860 and opened to freight 29 October 1863. Calne opened to passengers on 3 November 1863 with a private halt at Black Dog Halt. Stanley Bridge Halt in 1905. The railway was originally brought to Calne by the inability of the once-prosperous Calne branch of the Wilts and Berks Canal to cope efficiently with the requirements of local industry. As demand grew across the country for products from the Harris Bacon Factory, Calne’s main employer at the time, it became clear that a modern transport system was needed.

With no tunnels required, the construction of the line was simple and was built in the broad gauge of 7′ 0½” opening to freight traffic on 29 October 1863. The line was then opened to passengers from 3 November 1863, an unofficial holiday in Calne. From the start the service was operated by the Great Western Railway on behalf of the Calne Railway

Initially there were no intermediate stations on the line but a private station was opened at Black Dog Siding for Lord Lansdowne in 1863 and a halt was opened at Stanley Bridge in 1905 with the introduction of steam railcars onto the branch. In August 1874 the line was converted to standard gauge. The independent Calne Railway Company was absorbed into the GWR in 1892. Both fright and passenger traffic was good and continued to improve through the later years of the 19th century and in 1895 the terminus at Calne underwent extensive renovations and enlargement. The steam railcars were withdrawn from the branch in the mid 1930s.

The passenger station was used during WW2 to transport both servicemen and equipment to the Royal Air Force bases at Compton Bassett and Yatesbury and the goods station also saw increased trade with an increase in coal traffic, fuel for the RAF stations and animal feeds and grain for the local millers. The line had two near misses during German bombing raids in the Second World War, when bombs fell close to the station and the tracks.

The greatly mourned institution, the branch line goods train on a July evening in 1952.  0-6-0PT No.8783 is leaving Calne for Chippenham..  Photo: P.M.Alexander/CPL

The line was still producing a good profit in the 1950s. Figures for the year ending September 1952, showed an income of more than £150,000, with 300,000 passengers. However, as the Harris factory began to use the roads to transport more of its products, the railway began to see a drop in revenue. DMUs were brought onto the line in September 1958.

Following the closures of the RAF stations at Yatesbury and Compton Bassett, passenger numbers diminished rapidly and by late 1963, freight services had been cut to one a weekday, while Sunday passenger services had been withdrawn. Freight services were withdrawn on 2 November 1964 and the end was inevitable with Calne finally losing its passenger service during the Beeching cuts closing on 18 September 1965. Most of track was lifted between Easter and June 1967 leaving just a short section near the junction which was used as a siding. By 1972 a section of the track had been opened up to the public as the Marden Nature Trail and today most of the 6 mile route between Chippenham and Calne is part of the National Cycle Network and known as the Chippenham/Calne Railway Path.

Railway bridge over old Chippenham to Calne branch line  © Copyright Doug Lee and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – The Midland Railway in the East Midlands

Some Early Lines

The Midland Railway in the East Midlands

The Midland spread its rail network like spiders’ webs throughout the eastern Midlands, with tentacles reaching out to the Great Northern’s main line at Peterborough and Newark and the Great Eastern at St. Ives with running to Cambridge.  Most branches were run by 0-4-4 tanks and elderly 2-4-0s or 0-6-0s with standard class 2P 4-4-0s on the secondary lines.  This Pattern remained until Stanier’s coming when his new standardisation construction released some Fowler engines for work where weight restrictions allowed.

One of the branches to succumb in the fuel shortage period immediately after World War II was that from Duffield to Wirksworth in Derbyshire (16th June 1947).  This photograph (taken in the 1920s) shows Johnson 1P 0-4-4 tank No.1428 in early lined out LMS red livery approaching Duffield with a branch train.  Photo: W.Leslie Good, P.B.Whitehouse collection.

The Wirksworth branch served an unusual purpose in that its terminus was used by Derby Works as a prime spot for some of its official photographs.  When the ex-Midland Railway locos were stored in the works, prior to the establishment of a national museum, the opportunity (in 1960) was taken to ensure their preservation on film and they were hauled up to Wirksworth dead in a train (complete with brake van) by the Midland Compound and duly lined up for the official photographer.  The photographs were taken from the station platform and even at that late date a large plate camera was used.  Shown here is Kirtley 2-4-0 No.158A.  Photo: P.B.Whitehouse.

Buxton was served by two of the LMS constituent companies, the LNWR from Millers Dale on the main (now closed) Derby – Manchester line.  The stations lay side by side in Buxton and tank engines usually operated the services, the LNWR using the Bowen Cooke 4-6-2Ts and the Midland its smaller 0-4-4Ts.  Sometimes, however, trains ran south beyond Millers Dale and here is Class 2 4-4-0 No.447 at Buxton (Midland) on 3rd May 1934.  Photo: H.C.Casserley.

Manton Station on 26th May 1953 with Fowler 2-6-4 tank as BR No.42330, leaving with the 2.10pm Kettering to Melton Mowbray train.  Manton was the junction for Luffenham, Stamford and Peterborough.  Photo: P.M.Alexander.

Still carrying her Midland Railway cast iron smokebox number plate, Kirtley double framed 2-4-0 No.12 heads a Kettering to Cambridge train near Cambridge in the early days of the LMS.  Photo: P.B.Whitehouse collection.

An LNWR/Midland Joint line left Nuneaton (TV) and meandered via Shackerstone to Burton, the last section from Overseal and Moira to Burton being pure Midland.  The passenger service was axed on 13th April 1931.  MR Johnson class 1P 0-4-4 tank No.1369 in unlined black is seen here approaching Ashby Junction, Nuneaton with an Ashby and Burton train in 1930.  Photo: A.W.Flowers.

Some Early Lines – The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway

Some early Lines

The Canterbury  and Whitstable Railway

Sometimes referred to colloquially as the Crab and Winkle Line

Canterbury had always ferried goods on the river Stour, however, by the early 19th Century that was silting up at a rate that made dredging un-economic. It was decided to build a series of turnpike roads to the small port at Whitstable, and transport goods overland. This however, did not produce a long-term solution, due to the number of carts required compared to that of a barge.

Whitstable Harbour station in 1927

William James, a man who had taken a keen interest in locomotives since the early 1800’s, and had many projects in hand, one being a collaboration with George Stephenson to build a railway from Liverpool to Hull, applied for parliamentary approval for the construction of a line from Canterbury to Whitstable. The ambitious plan included a new harbour complex in Whitstable. Having surveyed the area, James decided on the most direct route, despite it involving three steep gradients and an 828 yard long tunnel. Unfortunately, James’ many commitments had placed too greater strain on his finances and he was sent to debtor’s prison, following bankruptcy, in 1823.

Despite James departure the project continued and having gained parliamentary approval on 10th June 1825, the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway commenced work soon after the act was passed, with George Stephenson as the engineer. The scheme began to run out of money and a further act of Parliament was passed in April 1827, allowing a further £19,000 of capita stock to be raised. The tunnel proved to be a very slow, arduous and technically, difficult task. It had been over a year and they were still not halfway through. The tunnelling was further hindered by earth falls and flooding. Upon completion of the tunnel, it was discovered to be only just big enough for the locomotive, with some redesigning of the passenger and goods carriages necessary. The project was proving to be at the cutting edge of technology, for that time, and a third Act of Parliament was required in May 1828, to secure another £21,000.

By 1830, the line had reached Whitstable, with both passenger and freight services commencing hourly from 3rd May. However, it would be another two years before the harbour redevelopment, under the direction of Thomas Telford, was complete, and the route could be extended.

The original plan allowed for two stationary engines, using a series of ropes and pulleys, for the gradients, with a locomotive named Invicta, purchased from George Stephenson’s company, to cover the flat sections. It was soon found that the locomotive was not up to the job and, despite modifications; a third stationary engine was installed in 1832.

Invicta – Canterbury c1970This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The company came under increasing financial pressure and in 1839, unsuccessfully, attempted to sell the Invicta, in an effort to clear some of the debt. In 1844, with the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway facing bankruptcy, the newly formed South Eastern Railway took over the line. It was decided in 1846, to allow SER locomotives to run on it, although because the height of Tyler Hill tunnel was only 12 feet, modifications, in the form of shorter chimneys and lowered boilers, were necessary. The original C&WR terminus at ‘Canterbury North Road’ was closed and the line extended to the SER Canterbury West station.

The line was never prosperous, even under SER management, and there was a new setback when the London, Chatham & Dover Railway  opened in 1860 offering a better passenger service from Whitstable to London. At the turn of the century work started on building a spur line at Whitstable to connect with the Herne Bay to Faversham line and a bay platform at Whitstable & Tankerton station, although the work was never completed. In the early 1900s, halts were built at Blean & Tyler Hill, South Street and Tankerton, resulting in some increase of passengers.

In 1923, the line became part of the Southern Railway and like many other lines, around the country, it suffered with competition from bus services. Passenger services were withdrawn on 1 January 1931. It continued to carry coal, grain and road stone, with munitions to the harbour during World War II. By 1948, when it became part of British Railways, Whitstable Harbour had fallen into disuse and what was left of the line’s trade had disappeared.

The line closed with effect from 1 December 1952, albeit with a short reprieve during the floods of February 1953, when the line was reopened from 5 February to 1 March. Track was lifted almost immediately and the associated infrastructure removed. All trace of the halts and station at Whitstable Harbour were removed. The site of Canterbury North Lane station later became a goods yard until around 1980 when it was sold for housing development.

R1 Class Nº1010 in Southern Railway days, complete with shortened chimney,  for working over the Canterbury  and Whitstable branch, due to the restricted dimensions of the Tyler Hill tunnel   Photograph: Mike Morant collection

Some Early Lines Strathspey Railway (GNoSR) Great North of Scotland Railway

Some Early Lines

Strathspey Railway (GNoSR)

Great North of Scotland Railway

The gently curved platforms and pastoral background of Craigellachie make a memorable setting for this vintage Speyside train, photographed on 2nd August 1954.  The engine, D41 4-4-0 No.62241 from Keith, and first coach are both of GNS parentage, with a Gresley brake third bringing up the rear.  Cragellachie was the Great North’s junction for the Elgin and Speyside lines.  Photo: P.B.Whitehouse


The line was opened on 1 July 1863 between Dufftown and Abernethy (later Nethy Bridge). It was extended to meet up with the Inverness and Perth Junction Railway (later the Highland Railway) at Boat of Garten on 1 August 1866. The Strathspey Railway actually met the Highland line at Tullochgorum, some 3 miles north of Boat of Garten, but the two lines ran parallel until reaching Boat, the physical junction being to the south of Boat of Garten station. The same year, 1866, saw the Strathspey Railway become part of the larger Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR).

Pickersgill-designed ‘D41’ class 4-4-0 No.62248, late of the Great North of Scotland Railway, leaves Craigellachie with the afternoon goods for the Highland line at Boat of Garten.  The line to the right of the picture is a siding and the track is single for the whole journey, closely following the windings of the River Spey, as it threads its way between the hills of Cromdale.  Many of the wagons will probably be dropped off at various distillery sidings en route. – Photo: W.J.V.Anderson

The railway served the numerous distilleries that operated in the Spey Valley, many of these distilleries having their own small tank engines, or ‘pugs’ as they were known.

In 1923, the railway became part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and through passenger services were advertised from Boat of Garten to the South via Aberdeen. The line became part of British Railways in 1948 and many cost-saving measures were considered, including the introduction of diesel rail buses in the late 1950s.

The Speyside branch train from Boat of Garten terminated at Craigellachie.  No.62275 ‘Sir David Stewart’ pauses for refreshment at the shed before being turned for the journey back over the single line with the afternoon train. – Photo: J.D.Mills

The Strathspey line closed to passengers on 11 October 1965, the same date as the closure of the Highland line between Aviemore and Forres. Grantown on Spey, which had previously been served by two separate stations, was now left without any rail connection.

Goods traffic lingered on for a further three years, mostly the whisky trains, until this too ceased on 4 November 1968. The track was lifted the following year. The short section between Aberlour and Dufftown remained open for goods traffic until the end of 1971.

Although the two stations at either end of the line are open, serving two heritage railways, (the Keith and Dufftown Railway at Dufftown and the (second) Strathspey Railway at Boat of Garten on the Highland Railway’s Aviemore to Forres route), no part of the original Strathspey Railway has been preserved. However, the section between Ballindalloch and Craigellachie has now been converted into part of the Speyside Way, which runs between Ballindalloch and Spey Bay.

GNS D41 No.62241 again, calling at Ballindalloch with a Speyside train in October 1951.  A ‘home made’ footbridge frames the train – an admirable piece of GNS economy that has been put together with lengths of old rail.  Photo:  P.B.Whitehouse

Many of the railway’s attractive stone-built station buildings still exist today; some have been converted for private usage, while others are near derelict. The former station building at Aberlour has been converted into a tearoom and visitor centre. Two of the three bridges over the Spey still survive: the joint road/rail cast-iron arch bridge at Carron and the impressive lattice girder bridge at Ballindalloch, the latter is now a Category A listed building.

The last of the Great North of Scotland 4-4-0s was No.62277 ‘Gordon Highlander’, nick named ‘The Soldier’.  Before being retired for preservation and resorted to its original green livery, No.62277 spent its remaining days in regular service working the goods between Keith and Elgin, and over the Speyside branch. – Photo: W.J.V.Anderson