Some Early Lines
Northampton to Market Harborough Branch
Situated 5 miles north of Northampton, just off the A508 or A5199, The Lamport & Northampton Railway offers a great day out for families and railway enthusiasts alike.
Apart from the many special events, you can ride on a train hauled by one of the steam or heritage diesel locomotives every Sunday from the start of March until the end of October.
The present motive power includes a number of working steam and diesel locomotives, some of which carry the 2E shed plate in honour of Northampton’s steam depot which closed in 1965. Further locomotives and rolling stock can be seen in various stages of restoration.
History of the line
The Northampton to Market Harborough branch was designed by George R. Stephenson and was opened in1859. It had six stations and two tunnels (Kelmarsh 322 yards and Oxendon 462 yards) along its 18 mile length.
The branch carried goods and passenger traffic throughout most of its commercial life, but had an erratic period during the 1960s and 1970s when passenger traffic stopped and started a number of times. On August 16th 1981, after 123 years of service, the line was finally closed by British Raiilways.
Three years later, the Northampton & Lamport Railway’s volunteers started to rebuild the Railway in the old goods yard at Pitsford and Brampton Station. The first passengers were carried along the re-opened section in November, 1995. The line was officially opened on 31st March 1996.
After seven years of hard work and fundraising by the volunteers and at a cost of £50,000, 2002 saw the first passenger train to cross the restored bridge 13 since the line’s closure. Since then track has been laid on the southern extension and Boughton signal box has been built. A platform and run round loop will be constructed ay Boughton and then work will proceed on the northern section, which will require another £40,000 for the restoration of bridge 14!
View northward, towards Market Harborough; ex-London & North Western Northampton – Market Harborough – Melton Mowbray – Nottingham secondary line. The station lost its passenger service on 4/1/60, goods on 1/6/64. The line was reopened for limited periods after that and not closed completely by BR until 15/8/81. Subsequently the Heritage Northampton & Lamport Railway has been able to lease the trackbed and is restoring the route. © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
The line between Northampton and Market Harborough was finally closed (by British Rail) on 16 August 1981, the intermediate stations on the route having been closed for many years.
In 1984 (just 3 years after the line’s closure) a group was formed with the intention of re-opening a section of the line as a heritage railway. The site opened to the public shortly afterwards. Following the granting of a Light Railway Order, the line carried its first fare-paying passengers in November 1995. The official Grand Opening Ceremony took place (just 4 months later) on 31 March 1996.
Locomotive on the Northampton and Lamport Railway © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Currently, passenger trains operate on a section of line approximately 11⁄2 miles (2.4 km) in length, departing from and arriving at the only station, Pitsford and Brampton.
However, As of June 2013, An extension south had currently been under construction which adds another 1⁄2 miles (0.80 km) mile(s) of running line, with around 90% of track-relaying completed around Spring 2012. Once complete it will include a station with sidings and run-round loop at the former Boughton Crossing on the A5199 at the Northamptonshire village of Boughton.
A northern extension of the N&LR currently remains within the planning stage, but before work can start, however, extensive repairs are needed to Bridge 14 which carries the track over the River Nene. In addition Northamptonshire County Council, which owns the former trackbed, will not grant a lease on the land required for the extension until the NLR’s southern extension (to as far as Boughton) is completed. The previous extension opened after several years’ work and around £50,000 was spent on repairs to Bridge 13, (the same amount required for Bridge 14, when the NLR turns it’s intention northwards).
Signal Box on the Northampton and Lamport Railway. © Copyright Ian Rob and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
The signalling system, with two working signal boxes (and a third under construction), makes it one of the most comprehensive and detailed on any heritage railway of its size, within Preservation. The Booking Office at Pitsford and Brampton station was built using the disused Lamport signal box, originally located around 51⁄2 miles (8.9 km) miles away on/up the same line. It had since been converted in such a way that it can be easily converted back into a signal box if whenever required in the future.
A third signal box has been installed at the Boughton Terminus; the former Betley Road signal box from Crewe is being used following its restoration.
The Brampton Valley Way is a “linear park” offering a traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists and pedestrians, and which runs alongside the railway, separated by a stout safety fence. Access is also available to horse riders on other sections away from the railway.
The railway is open for viewing from 10:00 to 17:00 on Sundays. Train rides are available on Sundays from March to October, steam-hauled from April to September (subject to availability).
One of the locomotives at Pitsford and Brampton Station on the Northampton and Lamport Railway © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.