Station Name: OLD NORTH ROAD

[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 7.7.1862
Location: On the east side of A119
Company on opening: Bedford & Cambridge Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.1.1968
Date closed completely: 1.1.1968
Company on closing: British Railways (Eastern Region)
Present state: The track bed in front of the station building has been filled up to platform level to create a lawn for the house. A large brick building on the trackbed at the south end of the station has been demolished and the demolished east edd of the platforms have been rebuilt complete with relaid track. Station buildings and the signal box on the down side survive in residential use. The goods shed and weigh office also survive amongst new buildings. Two 'hawkseye' signs on the down platform and another sign on the signal box are reproductions. The open-fronted shelter has been extended in brick part way across the platform and is now enclosed and the single storey block at the west end of the station building has been demolished. .
County: Cambridgeshire
OS Grid Ref: TL316546
Date of visit: December 1967 & March 1976

Notes: The main station building was on the down side and was built in the architectural style of the Bedford & Cambridge Railway, a style which included strong gables in yellow gault brick together with red brick dressings and string courses. As with the other Bedford & Cambridge-built stations with the exception of Potton, the main station comprised a two-storey stationmaster's house with the booking office on the lower floor. There was a single storey wing on the west side which formed and open-fronted shelter with a toilet block with narrow vented windows at its west end. An unusual wooden open-fronted shelter served for passengers on the up platform.

The goods goods yard was also on the down side and to the east of the station. It comprised two sidings one of which passed through a substantial brick goods shed built to a typical LNWR design; this siding terminated behind the down platform. The other siding ran behind the goods pens serving the coal yard. Cattle pens were sited at the east end of the goods shed. Access to the yard was controlled by a signal box sited on the down platform a few yards to the east of the station building. The yard closed on 19 April 1965.

The line retained its LMS 'Hawkseye' signs until closure to passengers in 1968.

The Bedford & Cambridge Railway Bill was put before parliament in 1860 and despite objections from the Eastern Counties Railway the Bill received the Royal Assent on 6th August. As part of the Act, the new Bedford & Cambridgeshire Railway bought out the Sandy & Potton Railway which had opened in 1857 from Sandy to a terminus on Biggleswade Road, Potton.

Work on the line began in April 1861 with the short lived Sandy & Potton Railway closing in December 1861. Much of the route was re-laid and Potton Station was resited close by.

The first train containing directors and shareholders of the company departed from Bedford at 9.04 on 4th July 1862, arriving at Cambridge at 1.30 pm. Three days later the line was officially opened for goods traffic and to passengers on 1st August, finally linking the two university cities of Oxford and Cambridge.

The Bletchley to Bedford line had opened in 1846 and the opening of the Bedford to Cambridge line provided an important cross country link between Oxford and Cambridge forming one of the few east-west routes, with the capability of reaching the east coast ports. Most services however ran from Oxford to Bletchley and from Bletchley to Cambridge.

Intermediate stations were built at Blunham, Potton, Gamlingay, Old North Road & Lords Bridge and a bay was provided at the recently rebuilt Cambridge Station to accommodate the Oxford and Bedford trains. At Sandy the trains from Bedford crossed over the Great Northern line on a lattice bridge running down into the new station which was located alongside the Great Northern station. A new station at Willington was added in 1906 and in 1938 a new halt was opened at Girtford between Blunham & Sandy; this was short lived however closing two years later.

From the offset the train service was run by the London & North Western Railway absorbing the Bedford & Cambridge Railway in July 1865

In 1955 The Railway Modernisation Plan proposed improvements in cross country facilities between Oxford and Cambridge with the aim of maintaining a link between the major main line railways outside the congested Greater London area thereby allowing freight traffic to be transferred between three railway regions and easing the burden on London marshaling yards. Within a few years the policy changed and the line was not upgraded with the Bletchley flyover remaining as a monument to the fruitless proposal.

An attempt was made to close the Oxford - Bletchley - Cambridge line in 1959 but local pressure succeeded in winning a reprieve. There was some relief when Dr. Beeching did not include the cross country Oxford to Cambridge line in his closure proposals in 1963 but just one year later, the British Railways Board published closure plans for the whole route. The introduction of new diesel trains in the 1960's allowed British Railways to run much faster trains and the need for a cross country service declined as passengers found it quicker to travel from Oxford to Cambridge via London. The line closed after the last day of service on 30th December 1967 although the section between Bletchley and Bedford remained open.

Track lifting of the Bedford - Cambridge Line began on 13th August 1968. Track was left in place between Potton and Gamlingay pending negotiations for preservation by the Sandy & Potton Steam Railway Society. Unfortunately the Society was unable to raise sufficient funds and the 5.25 miles of track was eventually lifted. One section of the bed between Lords Bridge Station and the junction with the GER has become the site of a very long radio telescope belonging to the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (Part of Cambridge University). The long level straight stretch of line was ideal for this telescope which is rail mounted, the track has however been re-laid and the gauge is now about 20 feet!

Tickets from Michael Stewart


  • Oxford to Cambridge Railway (Volume 2 Bletchley - Cambridge) by Bill Simpson - Oxford Publishing Company 1981 ISBN 86093 121 8
  • Forgotten Railways - East Anglia by R S. Joby - David & Charles 1975
    ISBN 0 7153 7312 9

To see the other stations on the Oxford - Cambridge line click on the station name: Oxford Rewley Road, Port Meadow Halt, Wolvercote Halt, Oxford Road Halt, Islip, Oddington Halt, Charlton Halt, Wendlebury Halt, Bicester London Road, Launton, Marsh Gibbon & Poundon, Claydon, Verney Junction, Winslow, Swanbourne, Bedford St. Johns, Willington, Blunham, Girtford Halt, Sandy, Potton, Gamlingay & Lords Bridge
See also The Bedford Railway (stations still open)

Staff pose for the photographer at Old North Road station c1900. Note the hut on the right, this stands close to the position of the layer signal box.
Photo from John Mann collection

1902 1:2,500 OS map. All the facilities were on the down side with access to the goods yard from both directions. The yard comprises two sidings with one passing a cattle dock and pens before running through the goods shed. The other siding served the coal yard. The signal box is on the down platform between the goods shed and the station building.

A freight service, probably bound for Bletchley, runs through Old North Road station in LNWR days.

Old North Road station looking south-west from the up platform c 1960s.
Photo from John Mann collection

Old North Road station looking north-east from the down platform c 1960s.
Photo from John Mann collection

Old North Road station seen from an Oxford bound train in December 1967
Photo by Geoff Skelsey

Old North Road station seen from a Cambridge train in December 1967 during the
last week before closure
Photo by Nick Catford

Old North Road station seen from the road bridge in July 1973. 3½ years after closure apart from track lifting little else has changed.
Photo by John Mann

Old North Road station looking south-west in July 1973.
Photo by John Mann

Old North Road station looking north-east from the A119 road bridge in March 1976
Photo by Nick Catford

Old North Road station looking north-east in March 2009.
Photo by Dave Lane from Wikipedia, reproduced under creative commons licence

Old North Road station looking north-east along the down platform in September 2013.
Photo by Robert Davidson

Old North Road station looking south-west in September 2013.
Photo by Robert Davidson

At the east end of Old North Road station the platform had been demolished with a new building across the track bed. This building has now been demolished and the end of the platforms have been rebuilt. The goods shed is seen in the centre; the other building are new. The LMS style 'Hawkseye' sign is a reproduction. (September 2013)
Photo by Robert Davidson




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Monday, 22-May-2017 10:37:35 CEST
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