Station Name: KIDLINGTON

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 1.6.1855
Location: End of Station Approach
Company on opening: Great Western Railway
Date closed to passengers: 2.11.1964
Date closed completely: 1.3.1965
Company on closing: British Railways (Western Region)
Present state: Demolished
County: Oxfordshire
OS Grid Ref: SP483147
Date of visit: Not visited

Notes: On 12 June 1844 the GWR opened its line to Oxford from Didcot with a terminus south of the Thames on what was then open land. The location is now Western Road, Grandpont and the site of the inconvenient terminus was at this road's western end with the nearest landmark today being St Matthew's Church. The following year the Oxford & Rugby Railway (O&R) began construction of its line through and north of Oxford. The O&R formed a junction with the GWR at New Hinksey, the site of what was known as Millstream Junction being immediately north of what is today the bridge taking Old Abingdon Road over the railway. Through trains therefore were obliged to reverse in order to serve the original Oxford terminus. While still under construction the O&R was taken over by the GWR and opened to traffic as far as Banbury on 2 September 1850. The nuisance that had become the original terminus remained in use until 1 October 1852 when it was closed to passengers, becoming a goods depot until final closure on 26 November 1872 - the same day the broad gauge was abandoned between Didcot and Oxford. The 1852 closure to passengers of the original terminus coincided with the opening of the present Oxford Station which, following the arrival of the L&NWR at its Rewley Road station, was named Oxford General. It is today simply ‘Oxford’.

The O&R had been built as a single track broad gauge line but was never to reach Rugby. By a complicated involvement with the Birmingham & Oxford Junction and the Birmingham Extension Railways the line forms the present day Didcot - Oxford - Birmingham line. The Rugby section was to have branched off at a junction close to Knightcote, just north of Fenny Compton and to have proceeded via Southam and Dunchurch to Rugby. Quite why this section was never built is not entirely clear although the gauge problem which would have presented itself at Rugby would seem the likely reason. While the GWR broad gauge is quite fascinating from the viewpoint of today, the nuisance that was Brunel's broad gauge could be said to be something of an understatement. In the event, the broad gauge north of Oxford was abandoned on 1 April 1869 but by then any desire to reach Rugby had long since been abandoned.

Some five miles north of Oxford lies the village of Kidlington which today has spread westwards towards the railway but in the 19th century was one mile away across open countryside and of course the centre of the village still is. The history of a railway station in this locality can be quite confusing. Langford Lane station was opened in April 1855 adjacent to the road of that name and in July of the same year was renamed ‘Woodstock Road’. This caused a problem further north where there was a pre-existing station named ‘Woodstock’ opened in 1850 and renamed ‘Woodstock Road’ the following year; this was renamed ‘Kirtlington’ but due to confusion with Kidlington, actual or perceived, which Langford Lane/Woodstock Road became in 1890 was renamed again to Bletchington (alternatively spelled Bletchingdon). Nothing is known about Langford Lane station other than its dates of operation under that name and that it would have had two platforms as by 1855 the single track broad gauge line had been doubled; neither is it clear if what became Woodstock Road was a straightforward renaming, as is usually claimed, or a new station - most likely the former. Therefore and as can be seen there have been two stations named ‘Woodstock Road’, neither of which were anywhere near the town of Woodstock.

With the opening of the Woodstock branch, Woodstock Road, that is the former Langford Lane version, reputedly became ‘Kidlington for Blenheim’ on 19 May 1890 but photographic evidence exists showing that in or by the early 20th century the running-in boards announced ‘Kidlington change for Blenheim & Woodstock’ which by that time was rather more informative than simply ‘ Kidlington for Blenheim’. The usual layout of railway stations placed the station buildings, or at least the main buildings, on the side of the line closest to the town or village that the stations purported to serve even if that town or village was miles away which it quite often was. Kidlington was no exception and as a hark back to its ‘Woodstock Road’ days the main buildings were on the west side of the line, closest side to the town of Woodstock some three miles away to the north-west as the proverbial crow flies.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel had died in 1859, the same year as his Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash had opened but he had seemingly lost much of his interest in railways sometime previously with his focus turning instead to shipping. Whether Brunel was ever to see Woodstock Road station is something we will never know but the station's original 'Cotswold' style buildings survived, apparently with little alteration, until the station was demolished. This style of building was also found at Aynho and Heyford to name just two of many, but there were variations to suit local requirements. If we were to view Aynho and Heyford buildings from their forecourts the entrance door was left of centre where at Kidlington it was right of centre, the internal difference being smaller waiting rooms which were located at the London end of the building and a bay window in the south elevation. This allowed a larger circulating area in the ticket office. Otherwise the internal layout was the same; left to right when viewed from the forecourt, lavatories, parcels office, ticket office, waiting rooms. The lavatories had external doors, two, in the north elevation. The aforementioned entrance door led directly into the ticket office from which another door led onto the Down platform. The Up platform building was smaller and only comprised waiting rooms, one general and one ladies’ and presumably lavatories were provided.

Passengers crossed the line by means of a reversed staircase footbridge, which was originally roofed and installed sometime in the late 19th - early 20th century period prior to which passengers presumably previously used the barrow crossing at the London end of the station. A stationmaster's house was provided, located east of the station behind the Up platform. On the west side of the Down platform and north of the station building was a siding leading to a dock. With the arrival of the Woodstock branch the Down platform was lengthened, taking it right up to the Banbury Road bridge, and the dock siding then became the bay platform for Woodstock trains while retaining its original purpose of serving the dock.

Kidlington goods yard was a simple affair comprising originally one and later two sidings plus a loop avoiding the goods shed. The shed measured 57ft by 40ft, had five bays divided by brick pilasters and was built to accommodate the broad gauge. Internally there was a 1½ ton crane and a small office was located on the north elevation. Road vehicle access was at the shed's west side. Further details, such as exist, can be found in the applicable image captions but a description of how the goods yard was operated is given later.

Photographs of Kidlington signal box are uncommon, primarily because it was located north of Banbury Road bridge and on the Up side adjacent to the points, trailing in the Up direction, giving access to the Up refuge siding which had a capacity of 58 wagons (these figures were based upon the short wheelbase four-wheel wagons predominant at the time). This siding was single ended, meaning Up goods trains had to reverse onto it. Woodstock Road signal box was in existence by 1884 but no other details are known. In May 1890, with the arrival of the Woodstock branch, it was closed and either rebuilt or replaced by a new structure of GWR Type 5 measuring 31' 9" x 11'6" x 8' and fitted with a GWR 51-lever Type HT3 frame. The reason the signal box was placed north of the bridge was because the north (country) end of the station was where most of the pointwork and signalling was located. Described elsewhere in the Woodstock pages is the original intention for the Woodstock branch to join the main line at Shipton on Cherwell, in other words at what came to be known as ‘Thrupp Curve’. The GWR decided otherwise at the last minute and therefore the Woodstock branch was continued all the way to Kidlington as a separate line parallel to the Down Main line. This involved some bridge work and the whole was accomplished surprisingly quickly.

There has been a tendency by some authors to imply provision of the separate line was made easy because of the 1869 conversion of the main line from broad to standard gauge (The section between Milepost 64, Oxford, and Oxley was converted on 1 April 1869 and the section from Milepost 64 to Didcot on 26 November 1872). This, though, was not entirely the case because the narrowing of the gauge was done in such a way as to widen the spacing between the two tracks - the so-called ‘Six Foot’. Plans for the work to accommodate the Woodstock branch alongside the main line have survived and are held by Oxfordshire County Council, Reference PD/2/122. The plans are dated as late as 1889, confirming just how quickly the work was carried out. Woodstock trains could therefore trundle to and from Kidlington without interfering with main line traffic but a main line connection had of course to be made. In the Down direction was a connection between main and branch lines immediately north of Banbury Road bridge while in the Up direction a ladder crossing was provided, partly beneath the bridge, to give access from the branch to the Up Main line. It was this ladder crossing which through Woodstock - Oxford and special trains returning from Woodstock would use and all in view of the signal box. The Down side, in respect of the Woodstock branch, was more complicated and not helped by changes to track layout being made at various times to suit prevailing requirements. Some 400 yards north of Banbury Road bridge stands another bridge taking a footpath from Sparrowgap Bridge (on the Oxford Canal) over the railway. Between these two bridges was once a loop separate from, and on the west side of, the Woodstock branch, while just north of the footpath bridge was a connection between the Woodstock branch and the Down Main line. This latter connection, at least, is thought to have been provided during the First World War and both were still shown on the OS six inch map revised in 1919 and published in 1923 but the 1947 revision of the same map shows both had been removed. However, it is only right to mention at this stage that conclusive details of the Down loops and when exactly they existed had not been found at the time of writing. This has not been helped by period maps being revisions of revisions, which sometimes results in certain features being missed depending upon periods between revisions.

In 1910 the 'cut off' line between what thereafter was Ashendon Junction and Aynho Junction was opened. It was the creation of this stretch of railway which left the original main line through Akeman Street to Grendon Underwood Junction as something of a sleepy backwater. This new line therefore bypassed Oxford and provided a quicker route for Paddington - Birmingham and beyond trains. Many trains, passenger and goods, were thus diverted with the result being the Didcot - Oxford - Banbury line becoming much quieter and especially north of Oxford on which section Kidlington was located. Nevertheless World War Two brought heavy traffic to the line as indeed happened across much of the country and it was deemed necessary to provide another Down loop north of Kidlington and this is the loop, south of the footbridge, mentioned. Following closure of the Woodstock branch in 1954 the final 40 chains to Kidlington was used to form a loop which had a capacity of 68 wagons.

This, then, returns us to the matter of how Kidlington goods yard was shunted. Wagons to and from the main line including those destined for, or being returned from, Woodstock would be dropped off and collected by the Oxford - Banbury pickup goods. This train had run from Oxford North Yard and latterly from Hinksey Yard which had opened in 1942. The dropping off and collecting of wagons at and from Kidlington by the pickup goods was a relatively simple matter of branching off the main line onto the Woodstock branch and then reversing into the goods yard, probably leaving the brake van temporarily in the bay platform while shunting was ongoing. While the Woodstock branch had a dedicated path for a goods-only working it appears to have rarely run and indeed latterly the goods-only working was suspended and remained so until the line closed. In addition there was an 'engine and van' working which, oddly perhaps, could run as a mixed train if the need arose but was a 'Runs as Required' working. This meant what little goods traffic there was for the Woodstock branch was usually handled by the mixed train. Mixed trains generally were hated by passengers who had to sit and wait while the locomotive shunted wagons at intermediate stations but this was not an issue on the Woodstock branch as there were no intermediate stations or goods sidings (Shipton on Cherwell Halt had no goods facilities) and timings for the mixed train were the same as those for passenger trains.

The shunting involved at Kidlington for the Woodstock mixed train was quite a performance. The train from Woodstock would arrive as usual with the autotrailer leading and goods wagons, along with the branch-allocated goods brake van, coupled behind the locomotive. Once passengers, if any, had detrained the ensemble would reverse out of the station to allow the locomotive and autotrailer to run round the wagons. The goods brake van then found itself coupled to the autotrailer. The re-marshalled ensemble would then reverse into the station bay platform and leave any wagons for Kidlington there temporarily while the locomotive then collected any wagons for Woodstock as well as undertaking any other required shunting. The autotrain would then return to collect the wagons left in the bay and move them to the goods yard, positioning them as required including down to the bacon factory. All this was usually done with the autotrailer still attached to the locomotive and also, of course, to and fro across the station forecourt. Should any wagons need depositing in or collecting from the goods shed this was also done with the autotrailer attached. With this work complete and with any wagons for Woodstock attached to the rear of the train, i.e. to the autotrailer, away we went back to Woodstock.

A very similar shunting procedure was followed at Woodstock, again usually with the autotrailer still attached, but there was one difference. At Woodstock the goods shed was of course designed for standard gauge track and care had to be taken to ensure the steps of the autotrailer were fully retracted, otherwise they could foul the entrance to the shed. The goods shed at Kidlington, however, had been built to accommodate broad gauge track so this potential problem did not exist and although the standard gauge track entering the shed was offset relative to the rail entrances, to allow use of the original internal platform without modification, adequate clearance nevertheless remained.

A few figures regarding business at Kidlington and selected from a quite complex accountancy table are; 1903, 15,480 tickets issued; 1926, 6,728 tickets issued; 1933, 6,880 tickets issued. Season tickets fell from 88 in 1923 to a mere 10 in 1933. Goods tonnage was 227 in 1903; 976 in 926; 442 in 1926; 145 in 1930; 525 in 1933. Broadly, these figures are even more dire than those for Blenheim & Woodstock. The drop in tickets issued and, in particular, season tickets can be attributed to the increase in more convenient, for Kidlington village, motor omnibus services. What in 1921 became the City of Oxford Motor Services Limited (COMS) was, incidentally, part owned by the Great Western Railway. Railway companies being shareholders of omnibus companies was once very common so COMS was by no means unique in this respect. The sudden increase in goods tonnage by 1933 could have occurred for a number of reasons, perhaps the most obvious being the bacon factory, but even so 525 tons is a meagre amount which equates very roughly to 1¼ tons per day - just a fraction of a single wagon load.

Despite Kidlington becoming a junction station in 1890 it never had any locomotive facilities. Locomotives of main line trains would take on water at Oxford and Banbury while the Woodstock branch locomotive made do with the facilities at Woodstock and at Oxford when operating the through workings.

Closure of the Woodstock branch in 1954 would have made little difference to Kidlington, which appears to have simply plodded on in its own rural way until closure to passengers took place on 2 November 1964. By this time the station had become quite decrepit and a far cry from the days of the immensely proud and by all accounts somewhat stern Stationmaster William Cooke. Following closure to passengers the goods yard remained connected and signalled but on 21 June 1965 the Oxford (Hinksey Yard) - Banbury North Yard pickup goods train was withdrawn. Bletchington also closed for good on the same day. Some sources claim or imply Kidlington closed to all traffic on 2 November 1964 but, as the aforementioned suggests, this does not appear to have been the case, regardless of whether there was any goods traffic for Kidlington or not. The closure date for the bacon factory of Messrs. C & T Harris has been difficult to find, although Kelly's Directory suggests it had closed sometime between 1960 and 1962. By 1968 the factory had been converted for other uses and it was finally demolished in 1980; meanwhile the private siding agreement with British Rail had eventually been terminated in 1966. The latter was merely a legal formality and the siding across the station forecourt would likely not have been used for some time previously, therefore exactly when any form of rail traffic last used Kidlington goods yard is open to question. After closure to goods traffic Kidlington goods shed was taken over by a plastics business. The shed was demolished in 1984 as part of the development of the industrial estate which now spreads across the land on the west side of the railway.

The passenger station had been erased by 1973 with the exception of the Down side building which was taken over by a succession of businesses. Details of some of these can be found in the applicable images and their captions. In 1990 the building suffered fire damage and was subsequently demolished although some cast iron canopy brackets were recovered and taken to Didcot and used for the rebuilding of Heyford station. By this time the building was hemmed-in between the railway and the expanding industrial estate and it looked most incongruous, or the industrial estate did depending, upon one's point of view. Meanwhile, up the line at Didcot North Junction a tanker train derailment on 14 August 1964 started a fire which seriously damaged the existing footbridge at the location. The cause of the accident is thought to have been nothing more than a misunderstanding between driver and signalman. Eventually, although the precise date is unknown, the footbridge at Kidlington was dismantled and its component parts used for a replacement footbridge at Didcot North Junction. It was still there in the summer of 2023.

Tickets from Michael Stewart and Brian Halford. Timetables from Timetable World. Route map drawn by Alan Young. See also the Tilley 'Challow' Lamp.


Sources and bibliography:

See Blenheim and Woodstock and Shipton-on-Cherwell Halt

'Fair Rosamund' is seen in the bay platform at Kidlington in half cab form and with her numberplate centrally position on the side tank. Driver Bill Pomeroy is standing nearest the camera but his fireman, on the footplate, is unidentified. On the right is Kidlington stationmaster William Cooke. Mr Cooke was famous for his station gardens and the latticed planter partly visible on the right was one of several. Oxfordshire County Council records reveal several mentions of Mr Cooke and his stations’ gardens. In October 1926 Mr Cooke retired after fifty years service with the Great Western Railway of which thirty-six years were spent as stationmaster. Upon his retirement Mr Cooke was presented with a cheque by the Duke of Marlborough. This was the 9th Duke, Charles Spencer-Churchill, a cousin of Winston Churchill. On the rear of the locomotive's bunker the tools of the fireman's trade can be seen stowed while the lamp affixed to the carriage is of interest. The Great Western Railway's lamps were mounted via a side bracket as opposed to the more usual rear bracket. Unfortunately only part of the carriage number is visible and while we can only date this photograph to pre 1926 the presence of the lamp suggests the carriage was not an autotrailer. Driver Pomeroy retired in 1939 but his name was to crop up many years later on the occasion of the closure of the Woodstock branch. His son, also Bill, asked British Railways if his father could drive the final train but due to the length of time since his father had retired permission was not unreasonably refused. BR did however grant permission for Mr Pomeroy to travel on the footplate of the final train but whether this offer was taken up does not appear to have been recorded.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

1877 1:2,500 OS map shows the original layout of Woodstock Road station before the opening of the Woodstock branch. Note the spelling Woodstockroad, this was never the name of the station. A loop and a short siding serving a dock are seen on what would later become the bay platform. At this time there was no footbridge, passengers needing to cross to the other platform using the barrow crossing at the south end of the station. No stationmaster's house is shown. The Railway Hotel is seen adjacent to Langford Wharf on the Oxford Canal. The hotel predated the railway, opening in the early 1700s as the Anchor Beer House. The name was changed to the Railway Hotel with the opening of the railway in 1855. After closure of the station in 1965 it was renamed the Wise Alderman in 1967 named in honour of signalman Frank Wise who manned the nearby signal box until his retirement in the mid 1960s.Since 2009 it has been the Highwayman Hotel.

1922 1:2,500 OS map. The station was renamed Kidlington with the opening of the Woodstock branch in 1890. With the arrival of the Woodstock branch a bay platform was provided on the west side of the Down platform utilising the former dock. The bay also acted as a dock when required. From the late 19th century the goods shed siding also served a timber yard which required station passengers to cross the siding. A footbridge has now been provided on the north side of the platform buildings.

1938 OS map. The timber yard closed in the 1920s although its siding is still shown on this map. In 1923 a new siding was provided to serve a bacon factory which involved additional shunting across the station approach road. When the station opened it was a mile away from the village centre but by this date residential development of the village had almost reached the station with new housing to the east of the station.

Part of the station gardens at the London end of the Down platform, believed photographed in 1910. This was the work of stationmaster William Cooke who, unsurprisingly, was a noted keen gardener. Just about every gardenesque item visible is made from branches and logs; four planters; two benches and some arch and trellis work. Mr Cooke regularly won awards and there was some hopefully friendly rivalry between Mr Cooke and Mr Ashford, the Woodstock stationmaster of the same period. On the London end of Kidlington's Up platform was some extensive and elaborate trellis work which formed an enclosure and again was made from branches. At Woodstock there was a nook with wooden bench similar to that on the left, except that the bench at Woodstock was a standard GWR wooden item. It was located some way along Woodstock's platform and was rarely photographed. Following the period of railway closures in the 1950s and 1960s comments have often been made about stations being so quiet the staff had ample time to tend gardens and allotments. While this was not untrue, staff did not shirk their duties and much of the gardening was done in their own time, especially in the run-up to the 'Best Kept' competitions. At Kidlington, Mr Cooke no doubt had plenty of willing helpers. On the right we can see the footbridge still has its roof and in the right background stands the original Banbury Road bridge which was to be rebuilt in 1925. The roof of the goods shed is visible centre background
Photo from John Mann collection

Kidlington believed circa 1930 and a northbound main line train formed, insofar as can be seen, of clerestory stock, the first two vehicles being in chocolate and cream livery. By 1930 traffic at Kidlington had tailed off, a process which began following the First World War, although in this scene a fair few people are present. We cannot of course see further along the platform but the cluster of people in the vicinity of the Woodstock bay suggests they had arrived from Woodstock and are changing trains. For how long they had been awaiting the connection is, however, another matter. The locomotive of the main line train is a 3800, or 'County', Class 4-4-0 and believed to be No. 3806 'County Kildare' but neither number or name are readable in this view, nor are they readable in the accompanying close-up view. Indeed, in the close up view the second word of the name appears to be longer than 'Kildare' and could be 'Kilkenny' which was No. 3807. Nevertheless, in the absence of a clearer photograph we just have to assume 'County Kildare' to be correct. All the 'County' 4-4-0s had been withdrawn by the end of 1933, the final example being No. 3834 'County of Somerset' which bowed out on 24 November 1933 with 'County Kildare' bowing out in February 1931. In the bay sits the Woodstock autotrain headed by 'Fair Rosamund' The autotrailer is one of the early slab-sided cars and might have been No. 110 which was a Woodstock branch regular at this time. Oil lamps are still present on the platforms but the new concrete posts for the Tilley 'Challow' lamps are starting to appear; these were commissioned in 1931 so the photograph being taken in 1930 is not far off the mark. Note the white painted guard rails for the manual point levers and the white base of the telegraph pole; this would have been necessary for safety reasons when the station was lit by wick lamps. One of the new concrete posts has been positioned to illuminate the siding pointwork. On the bracket signal the arm for the Woodstock branch is 'Off'. The other arm, on the taller dolly, controlled the connection to the Down main line.
Photo from John Mann collection

A closer view of the County Class 4-4-0 at Kidlington c. 1930. This photograph is assumed to have been taken slightly later as by now most of the people on the platform have disappeared. Whether the train lingered at Kidlington for a few minutes, as could happen if mail, parcels and sundries needed loading and unloading, or if two photographers were present is not known. The vantage point for this shot was near the north end of the goods shed.
Photo from John Mann collection

Saint class 4-6-0 No. 2981 'Ivanhoe' waits at Kidlington with a Down local train. This locomotive was one of the batch built as unnamed 4-4-2 machines, in this case as No. 181 in 1905 and rebuilt to 4-6-0 in 1912. The Saint class comprised a number of sub classes defined by name; Court, Lady, Saint and Scott with the latter referring to Sir Walter Scott. 'Ivanhoe' was thus a member of the Scott sub class. She is seen here carrying a Banbury (84C) shedplate, which code was applied during or shortly after February 1950. 'Ivanhoe' was withdrawn in March 1951, therefore we have an approximate one year date window for this photograph. To the right the Woodstock autotrain waits in the bay platform. The 1400 Class locomotive carries a shedplate, just visible, but has still to acquire a smokebox numberplate. On the platform two people are heading towards the branch train while a perambulator and some bags are about to be loaded into the van of the main line train. The scene is ostensibly quite busy but close examination reveals many of the persons there present are staff, a not unusual scenario at many rural stations. The platform lighting is worth a mention. Until 1931 oil (wick) lighting was used. This was replaced by Tilley paraffin/pressure 'Challow' lamps, so-named after the first GWR station to use them, suspended from brackets atop the replacement concrete posts seen here. These lamps would be serviced, filled with paraffin and fired-up in the lamp room and then hoisted to the top of the lamp post. The hoisting equipment is just discernible on the post immediate ahead of the camera. This form of lighting remained in use until the station closed in 1964. After closure the footbridge was dismantled and taken to Didcot North Junction where components were used in construction of a replacement, albeit it with a longer deck, for the original footbridge which had burned down. This footbridge is today a popular vantage point for railway photographers.
Photo from John Mann collection

Photographed from a Down stopping train, the Woodstock autotrain awaits custom, apparently in vain, in the bay platform. The date is sometime between 1950 and, of course, closure of the Woodstock branch. The locomotive is a 5400 class 0-6-0 Pannier Tank but its precise identity is unclear. In the BR period two of this class, the other being No. 5414, were shedded at Oxford but No. 5414 was transferred away in January 1950 while No. 5413 remained in the area until after the Woodstock branch closed. There were only 25, or 26 depending upon point of view, members of the 5400 class. The prototype was a conversion from a Saddle Tank but scrapped in 1930 and replaced by a new build Pannier Tank given the same number. All the 25 new build locomotives were auto fitted. The class had larger driving wheels compared to their contemporary Pannier Tanks and this gave them a slightly antiquated appearance. Nevertheless they were ideal for autotrain work and were popular with crews working the Woodstock branch, being much more sure footed than the 0-4-2 tanks which they deputised for when necessary. On the right, the goods shed gates have either been replaced by a tarpaulin or covered by one for some unknown reason. A rather ancient cattle wagon can be seen (at one time there was a cattle market to the west of the station but it had disappeared by the 1950s) while a motor lorry is loading or unloading alongside a box van, presumably because the goods shed was inaccessible. The bacon factory can be seen in the background. Some Woodstock trains offered reasonable connections at Kidlington but many did not and this is often cited, not unreasonably, to have been one reason for the demise of the Woodstock branch. While this photograph appears to show a good connection, the autotrain may still have had a considerable time to wait before departure although it does appear the locomotive's fire has just been stoked in readiness.
Photo from John Mann collection

The days of stationmaster Cooke's quite spectacular station gardens, which were predominantly at the London end of the station, have long gone and the station is now looking very rundown which was perhaps a legacy of wartime. A bench remains on the Up platform and a barrow remains on the Down platform, outside the station building, but the GWR bench which had sat on the Down platform just ahead of the footbridge stairs has disappeared. Note the British Railways van on the forecourt which would have been in the attractive red and cream livery. The vehicle is a Morris Commercial NV Series, introduced in 1950 and widely used by British Railways. This provides us with an earliest date for the photograph which has otherwise proved difficult to date. The conclusion is that it is around the time of withdrawal of the Woodstock service in 1954. The goods shed clearly displays its broad gauge origins as does the track spacing (the so-called '6ft') on the main line. The rusting rails into the goods shed indicate the shed hasn't been used for quite some time. The track branching off to the right was simply a loop avoiding the goods shed road. It rejoined the track upon which the van stands, the connection being hidden by the goods shed. From the late 19th century the siding had served a timber yard but this disappeared c.1920 and the siding was realigned to serve a bacon factory which dated from 1923 and was originally rather pompously titled 'The Oxfordshire Farmers' Co-operative Bacon Factory Limited'. The title was later shortened to 'Kidlington Bacon Factory' and ultimately became part of the Wiltshire based Harris empire. The factory can be seen here, background right of centre. During the Second World War the bacon factory siding was used by the Air Ministry in connection with RAF Kidlington, out of view to the right of this view. As can be imagined, shunting across the station approach road proved to be a nuisance for the public wishing to leave or arrive at the station. Indeed one source claims the public were barred from using the approach road when shunting was ongoing but probably in reality safe passage was overseen by a member of staff. The bacon factory siding, once across the approach road, then ran in the street although the 'street' was actually the factory's own access road. The factory closed in the mid 1960s and the private siding agreement was formally terminated by British Rail in 1966. One might wonder about the vantage point of this photograph. The skewed road bridge, which had been rebuilt in 1925, was some 150 yards north of the station when measured from the station building and the extended Down platform ran right up to it. It is suspected this photograph was taken from the bridge either with a zoom lens or subsequently cropped. One feature this elevated view does clearly show is the extension to the Down Platform, provided when the Woodstock branch opened in 1890. The track in the bay had originally been nothing more than a siding serving the goods dock, which explains why Woodstock passenger trains ran into what was essentially still a goods dock as it remained usable as such.
Photo from John Mann collection

Click here for Kidlington Station Gallery 2:
c After 1954 - October 1975




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Wednesday, 06-Sep-2023 12:43:18 CEST
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