Some Early Lines – Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway

Some Early Lines

Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway

Leaflet FrontThe Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway is a preserved heritage railway with its headquarters and only station at Chinnor in South Oxfordshire, England. It runs along the foot of the Chilterns escarpment.

History

The line was part of the former Great Western Railway branch line between Watlington and Princes Risborough. British Railways closed the line to passenger traffic in 1957. The section between Chinnor and Princes Risborough then carried a freight-only cement service until 1989.

Preservation

The Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway Association was formed around August 1989. It began to operate passenger trains between Chinnor and the site of the former Wainhill Halt (about 1 km NE of Chinnor) in August 1994. In 1995 the route was extended by about 3 km to Horsenden Lane, and then to Thame Junction in 1996. The 4 km route has been unchanged since then.

Chinnor Rly Stn Chinnor railway station

Chinnor station is the headquarters of the preserved Chinnor and Princes Risborough railway line, known as the Icknield Line Link . Chinnor was originally an intermediate station on the branch line which ran from Princes Risborough to Watlington, and which opened in 1872. However falling traveller numbers made it an early pre-Beeching closure and the line closed to passenger traffic in 1957, although freight traffic to Chinnor Cement Works continued until 1989. In the 1970s the station and platform at Chinnor were demolished by British Railways, so the railway preservation company have had to completely rebuild them. Although the line currently stops short of entering Princes Risborough the railway are hopeful of securing access soon.

 Here pannier tank engine 57xx 0-6-0PT 9682, built at Swindon in 1949, simmers gently on a sunny early spring afternoon, awaiting its next call of duty. Despite the classic Great Western Railway scene this engine post-dated the Nationalization of the railways in 1948 so only ever wore British Railways livery.  © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Present day and future route of the C&PRR

The railway operates on standard gauge between Chinnor and Thame Junction, near Princes Risborough. As of 2013, there is no platform at Thame Junction, so each trip from Chinnor is a return journey of about 8 km.

An extension of about a mile (1.5 km) to Princes Risborough mainline railway station is proposed and the railway is in discussion with Network Rail, with a view to running into Princes Risborough station. This would allow passengers to connect from Chiltern Railways services on the Chiltern Main Line. Once the extension takes place, the line would then be 4 miles (6 km) in length.

Pannier Tank ChinnorPannier Tank at Chinnor Station

57XX class Pannier tank 9682 waits while passengers board at Chinnor Station on the preserved Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway.  © Copyright Martin Addison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Icknield Line’s Scenic Highlights

The journey starts at Chinnor station when the train sets off for the seven-mile round trip by passing under Station Road, then rising through the outskirts of Chinnor village to Keens Lane.  This is locally known as Donkey Lane due to the donkeys who, in the 1930s, used to bring the beech chair legs down from the woods where they had been made for onward transportation to High Wycombe.  Views now open up on both sides of the line.  To the right, a footpath parallels the Upper Icknield Way – a green lane that pre-dates the Romans; William the Conqueror travelled along it on his way from Hastings to London.  The line now descends to Wainhill Crossing and the restored Halt which is no longer open to passengers.  The original crossing keeper’s cottage, now privately owned, is on the right.

This crossing is manned when passenger trains are running and the train will slow down or even stop unless a green flag is being shown by the gateman.  After crossing the roadway, a stud farm can be seen immediately to the right and, to the left, just after some poplar trees, is a small pond where a Roman villa once stood.  The line continues down through a cutting to Bledlow Cricket Club where matches can be seen most Sunday afternoons.  After crossing West Lane Bridge there are watercress beds to the right just before Perry Lane Bridge.  As the train crosses this bridge, the now closed rail level Bledlow Bridge Halt can be seen on the left.  There are now good views across open fields to both sides of the train and on a clear day Whiteleaf Cross can be seen on the right, etched into the chalk hillside above the town of Princes Risborough.  Its origins date back to the middle ages, and it is thought to have been a guide for the old salt route from Droitwich, near Worcester, on the way to the Thames and London.  The train crosses Horsenden Lane and proceeds round the corner to Thame Junction and the end of the line.  The train will now stop while the engine runs round the coaches and attaches to the other end, ready for the return journey.  The line here continues for approximately half a mile to Princes Risborough station, which the Railway hopes to reach in the not too distant future, subject to raising the necessary funds and achieving agreement with Network Rail.

Chinnor SB   Chinnor

The run round loop and sidings of the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway. The line used to continue to Watlington, although the original intention was to continue the construction on to Wallingford and thus provide a through route joining the GWR main line at Cholsey. The line from Princes Risborough to Watlington was closed to passengers in 1957 and from 1961 until 1989 it only survived to serve the now defunct cement works just out of the picture to the left. It is now operated as a heritage railway.  © Copyright David Stowell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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