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.

  Operations

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

History

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6 July 1936 Metropolitan passenger services withdrawn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.

Opening

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.

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