Station Name: NEWBURY WEST FIELDS HALT
                                                

[Source: Nick Catford]




Date opened: 1.10.1906
Location: Between Clifton Road and Craven Road
Company on opening: Great Western Railway
Date closed to passengers: 4.2.1957
Date closed completely: 4.2.1957
Company on closing: British Railways (Western Region)
Present state: Demolished - no evidence of the station remains. Both Clifton Road and Craven Road have been extended with new housing between the two roads covering the station site. There is a house on the south side of Clifton Road named Westfields Halt, this is not on the site of the halt.
County: Berkshire
OS Grid Ref: SU461668
Date of visit: February 1969 and 21.2.2006

Notes: Newbury West Fields Halt was the last station on the line to open on 1.10.1906 and was the first to close on 4.2.1957. The station was sited on a curve between the ends of Gloucester Road (now Clifton Road) and Craven Road with access from both roads. In line with all other stations on the branch the original platform was 9" high but this was later replaced by a standard height platform which was topped with cinders and fine gravel while it's leading edge was built of sleepers. Rails sunk vertically into the ground supported the entire structure throughout its length. The station was unstaffed after 1934.

The halt was removed from the timetables in September 1956 but still operated carrying passengers, small goods and milk.

For further pictures and information on Newbury West Fields Halt see Lambourn Valley Railwayweb site

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LAMBOURN VALLEY RAILWAY
The railway came late to the isolated Berkshire town of Lambourn. The first scheme for a line to the town was put forward in 1873 with a proposal to build a tramway from Lambourn to Newbury but the scheme foundered through lack of money. In 1881 the proposal was revived when a Bill was put before parliament for a light railway. Despite being passed by the Commons the Bill was rejected by the Lords after some local protests. On 2.8.1883 a new Bill was introduced and passed authorizing the Lambourn Valley Railway to build its line.

Lack of finance delayed the construction of the line and by July 1889 only the first 4 ½ miles was ready for track laying. By June 1890 9 miles of permanent way and been laid but the contractor was unable to complete the line and further work was halted. At the end of 1893 a further Bill was obtained giving the LVR a further 4 years to complete the line but work didn't restart until January 1897 and the line was not ready until the spring of 1898 with a private opening on 2nd April.

The line was operated and maintained by the GWR under an Act of 1895 with 5 daily trains and an additional late evening train on Sunday. The line was initially single track throughout with no signaling and only one engine in steam. Station platforms were all nine inches high and with the exception of Welford Park, sited on the west side of the line.

In January 1904 the GWR expressed an interest in buying the line and a year later the LVR board approved and amalgamation which took place on 2nd July that year.

Plans were immediately drawn up to improve the line; these included a new halt at Newbury West Fields which opened in 1907 and the rebuilding of Lambourn Station with new buildings and a standard height platform. Eventually all the platforms on the branch were replaced; most stations were provided with a siding and passing loops were added at Boxford, Welford Park, Great Shefford and East Garston. The branch was worked by steam railmotors and locomotive hauled trains.

By the mid 1930's, passenger numbers were dropping due to competition from local bus services and in an attempt to win back passengers and save costs and experimental diesel railcar was tried out on the line in late 1936. This proved successful and a rail car was specifically built for use on the branch and once again the line began to make a small profit. By nationalisation in 1946 the railway was in good order with a well used and reliable service.

New traffic was brought to the line in the early 1950's, when a three mile branch was built from Welford Park to the American air base at RAF Welford. It was hoped that this would ensure the survival of both passenger and freight traffic but in 1959 British Railways announce closure of the line to passenger traffic and this took place on 4.1.1960.

Freight traffic continued as far as Welford Park but the remaining track to Lambourn was lifted in about 1962. Freight traffic was withdrawn from Boxford and Welford Park in 1965 but the line was retrained to serve the American air base being leased by the Ministry of Defence from 1.7.1967. The MOD provided its own locomotive from 1.1.1972 but this was short lived with the last recorded military use of the line on 7.8.1972. The last public train ran on 3.11.1973 when a 3-car DMU ran four return trips from Newbury - Welford Park carrying 1997 passengers. Despite proposals to reopen the line as a steam railway then track was finally lifted in late 1976

Further reading: The Lambourn Valley Railway by MRC Price 1964/1976 Oakwood Press
The Lambourn Branch by Kevin Robertson, Roger Simmonds
1984 Wild Swan ISBN 090686724X
Branch Line to Lambourn by Vic Mitchell, Keith Smith, Kevin Robertson
2001 Middleton Press

Other web sites: The Lambourn Valley Railway 1898 - 1973. Excellent web site with a large number of archive photographs of all the stations on the branch and pictures of the branch to RAF Welford..

To see the other stations on the Lambourn Valley Railway click on the station name: Newbury, Speen, Stockcross & Bagnor, Boxford, Welford Park, Great Shefford, East Garston, Eastbury Halt & Lambourn

 

Newbury West Fields Halt in July 1907
Copyright p
hoto from John Alsop collection



The site of Newbury West Fields Halt in February 1969
Photo by Nick Catford

Collett '2251' class 0-6-0 heads a Lambourn bound train at Newbury West Fields Halt taken from the same viewpoint as the picture above. The three telegraph poles can be seen in both pictures. The station building was removed shortly after closure.
Photo by D. W. Winkworth supplied by The Lambourn Valley Railway web site

Click on thumbnail to enlarge


 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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