Railway

Station sign
This is the sign which was in use when Winslow station closed on 30 Dec 1967.

Arthur Clear: A Thousand Years of Winslow Life (1888), p.20

In conclusion we can only briefly refer to the events of recent years. In 1841, the Boys' School was built. In 1843, the Town was first lighted with Gas. On the 25th March, 1850, an experimental trip was made on the newly-formed Buckinghamshire Railway, Mr. Brassey, the Contractor, provided a Dinner for the directors and friends, to the number of 150, at Winslow, when Sir Harry Verney spoke, and on the first of May following, the line was opened to Winslow, there being four trains each way daily.

According to Lipscomb, Winslow in the 1840s was a depressed place which had been reduced "to the condition of a mere village", so the arrival of the railway was especially significant.


Bucks Herald 30 March 1850: the railway opens

BUCKINGHAM RAILWAY

This line being now so far advanced that it can be travelled upon, the contractors, Messrs. Brassey and Co., and other gentlemen connected with this undertaking, went over it on Tuesday, last, from Bletchley to Banbury, in a train, consisting of several carriages and on their return stopped at the Winslow station to a dinner, given by the contractors, and which was on the most liberal scale. The whole of the building was very neatly and appropriately decorated for the occasion with flags and laurels. &c. Amongst the former we noticed the following:- Success to the Supporters of the Railway;" "Success to the Bucks Railway;" "Health, Wealth, and Long Life to Thomas Brassey;" and "Success to the Winslow Station."

The dinner was laid out in a handsome tent in the Good's shed, and which consisted of every delicacy of the season; indeed no expense appeared to have been spared on the occasion, and all was arranged under the good management of Mr. Neal. landlord of the Bell Inn, in such an excellent manner as to entitle him to much credit. Shortly after three o'clock, the company, consisting of about 120 gentlemen, sat down to dinner, T. Brassey, Esq., in the chair. Amomg the company, we noticed - Cobb, Esq., Major Dewes, H. Humphreys, Esq., and other Directors, the Rev. W. Fremantle, R. Chandler, Esq., Mayor of Buckingham. - Gough, Esq.. Mayor of Banbury, W. Stone, T. Bartlett. G. Nelson, H. Smith, G.H. Haslop, P. Box and Thomas Swain, Esqrs., of Buckingham; several gentlemen from Brackley; G. Cowley and B. Dudley, Esqrs., and other gentlemen of Winslow and its neighbourhood. After the usual loyal toasts and other appropriate ones had been drank, and some spirited and suitable speeches had been delivered, the chief portion of the company soon after, six o'clock left to return by the train, no doubt highly delighted with their excursion

On Wednesday, a substantial dinner was provided in the same tent, to the sub-contractors, clerks, time-keepers. and all the navvies employed on the line, and they as well as all partook of the contractor's liberality, seemed to be highly delighted. About 600 more of the same class of men employed on this line were likewise entertained at Brackley, on Thursday, with a good substantial repast, and a good allowance of ale.

Winslow station (standing derelict)
Winslow's disused station in 1989, before demolition

The original Buckinghamshire Railway line ran from Bletchley to Banbury, but the line through to Oxford was opened on 1 July 1851, and it became part of the Oxford to Cambridge route. Winslow was the place for changing trains between the Oxford and Banbury lines until Verney Junction station opened in 1868. The first stationmaster was William Hazelgrove from London, b.1815 or 1816. The Oxford Journal recorded an "excursion train" on 12 July 1851 from Banbury via Brackley and Buckingham to London which "had about 700 passengers when it left the Winslow station. "

The station was some distance from the town centre, which was lamented in this poem:
Oxford Chronicle, 3 Nov 1855
THAT Winslow's a railway and station 'tis true,
     Yet there's one thing makes travellers frown.
When for "Bussy" they cry, it is found all my eye,
     To take them to that quiet town.
Then through rain, wind, and dirt, though they'd fain give their shirt
     For a ride, as all well can tell,
They must trudge half a mile, with blue devils and bile,
     To their quarters, the old-fashioned "Bell."
A barrow and boy, are all they employ,
     Your luggage to take from the station,
While woman or man, do the best they can,
     At this place, - the last place in the nation.

The position of the station led to Winslow's expansion northwards. The railway enabled local farmers to send milk and butter to London on a daily basis. Some of the most enthusiastic users of the railway were members of the Whaddon Chase Hunt. There were many "hunting boxes" in and around Winslow, houses where wealthy people, usually from London, could make overnight stays and keep their horses.

Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her? (1864/5), ch.17

The scene is a meet of the Roebury Hunt at the fictional village of Edgehill, Oxon.

"By George," said the literary gentleman, "just down from London by the 8.30 from Euston Square, and got over here from Winslow in a trap, with two fellows I never saw in my life before. We came tandem in a fly, and did the nineteen miles in an hour."


Oxford Journal, 23 Oct 1858

LONDON & NORTH-WESTERN RAILWAY
CRYSTAL PALACE,
ADMISSION, ONE SHILLING.
Grand Military Fete and Last Grand Display
THIS SEASON
Of the entire System of FOUNTAINS, CASCADES,
WATERFALLS, &c.
On MONDAY NEXT, October 25,
ON WHICH OCCASION
A       CHEAP       EXCURSION       TRAIN       will       leave
OXFORD     for     LONDON    at    7.25 a.m.;     BICESTER,
7.45 a.m.;    WINSLOW,   8.10 a.m..;      returning  from  the
Euston  Square  Station  the  same  day,  by  Special  Train,
at 7 p.m.
** Passengers desirous of proceeding to the CRYSTAL PALACE can alight at the Camden Town Station, whence the North London Trains start every 15 minutes for Fenchurch  street,   within   five   minutes’  walk  of   the London
Bridge Station, and Trains from London Bridge start every quarter of an hour.
**  There   will   be   NO   EXTRA   CHARGE  for  continuing
on to FENCHURCH STREET, but Passengers must join the Return Train at the Euston Square Station.

FARES FOR THE DOUBLE JOURNEY.

OXFORD First Class. Covered Carriages.  
BICESTER 6s. 6d.   4s.
WINSLOW    

Children under 12 years of age, Half-price.

 


Plan of Winslow Station and sidings 1907
Winslow Station and sidings, 1907. The defunct siding at the top served a brickyard. Note the Horse Loading bay. From Dr R. Preston Hendry & R. Powell Hendry, An Historical Survey of LMS Stations (1982).


Bucks Herald, Saturday 1 Aug 1896

The Verney Arms at Verney Junction Opens

Business was commenced at the new hotel at Verney Junction on Monday. It is notorious that for many years the accommodation at this junction has been totally inadequate to the demands which has been placed on it by the increasing number of trains and traffic … It was generally felt that accommodation of other kinds, especially for horses and traps, was also urgently needed, and it is with a view to meet this demand that Messrs. Frank Higgens and Co. of Buckingham have erected the new hotel, which undoubtedly will prove of great convenience to the public.  It is situate about twenty-five yards from the new station gates, and is on the angle of the Winslow and Claydon road, south of the station. It faces the latter, and in front stands a fine ash tree surrounded with an oval of grass round which runs the carriage drive. It has two bays, is built of Hartwell red bricks with stone sills, and slated with chimneys of blue brick ornamental heads. … The work has been satisfactorily executed by Messrs. Matthew Bros. of Winslow, in accordance with plans and specifications prepared by Mr Philip Inns of Stowe, who has personally superintended the work.


Another trade which was made possible by the railway was in blackberries.

Bucks Herald, 7 Oct 1900
An interesting scene may be witnessed at Winslow passenger station almost daily again this year, in the shape of the dispatch of heaps of small baskets containing blackberries. One day this week I counted 300 baskets containing 61 lbs, 50 baskets of 10lbs, and 200 baskets of 12 lbs. No less than 2,000 baskets were sent away this week to all parts of England. They are gathered from the wild brambles in the hedgerows by the women of the villages and taken to Mr John Walker, fruiterer, Winslow, who gives about 1d per lb, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. It is somewhat singular that the Transvaal crisis [i.e. the Boer War] should affect a little trade like this, but I understand it is a fact. Mr Walker having annually sent some hundreds of baskets to Johannesburg, till this year. The greater part of the fruit is now despatched to the North via Bletchley.

The blackberry trade flourished for several decades until the First World War.

Aerial view of the station and sidings
The Station seen from the air, 1931
Source: www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw036312


In 1947 there were 9 trains a day from Winslow to Bletchley, and you could get to Euston in 90 minutes if you travelled at the right time:

Railway timetable 1947

Winslow signal box
Winslow signal box, photographed in 1959

Railway poster advertising cheap day tickets
Oxford to Winslow return for 5s 6d (1956), from British Railways

In 1958, cheap Saturday trips to Bedford were on offer
Similar deals were available in 1965
Some of the tickets issued on the last day of passenger services
Railway poster
Railway poster
Tickets to Bletchley, Claydon and Swanbourne

The last passenger train ran on 30 Dec 1967: it was the 23:45 to Bletchley. You can hear some extracts from a recording made that day.

The first part of the recording is the last minutes of the signal box: signals are pulled off for a fast train to Oxford, then a train for Bletchley comes through, bells clang and the needles are switched off. The second part is the last train, the 23:45 for Bletchley, stopping at the station, with some detonators going off behind it.

The line was used for goods trains and occasional passenger specials until the early 1990s.

Milton Keynes shopper train
A Milton Keynes Shopper train stops at Winslow, c.1987

Amey Roadstone train c.1988
An Amey Roadstone train on the now single-track line passes under the Iron Bridge between Furze Lane and Buckingham Road, c.1988

See also:


Winslow Road Station

Winslow's second station, Winslow Road, between Winslow and East Claydon, was opened in 1868 on the Aylesbury & Buckingham Railway (part of the Metropolitan Railway from 1891). A horse-drawn vehicle called the Fly Coach provided a connection from The Bell. There was a through service to London (Baker Street) from 1892. The line was a commercial failure and closed to passengers in 1936. Winslow Road Station had a footbridge, unlike Winslow Station where you had to walk across the tracks at a "barrow crossing"..

Winslow Road station

For more information and photos, see the Disused Stations website.

Some of the information on this page comes from C.G. Maggs, The Branch Lines of Buckinghamshire (Chalford: Amberley, 2010).

 

Copyright 5 August, 2015