[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 20.5.1851
Location: On the north side of Rewley Road
Company on opening: Buckinghamshire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.10.1951
Date closed completely: 1.10.1951
Company on closing: British Railways (Western Region)
Present state: Demolished - The Said Business School (part of Oxford University) now stands on the site.
County: Oxfordshire
OS Grid Ref: SP505063
Date of visit: December 1967 & March 2005

Notes: The size of Oxford Rewley Road Station was limited by the Sheepwash Channel, a navigable link between the River Thames and the Oxford Canal. A unique two rail swing bridge was constructed to allow trains to cross the channel and enter the station. The station consisted of a large island platform with two faces covered by a substantial trainshed. There were carriage sidings on the west side and a loading dock and horse box siding on the east side with an engine shed on the north side of the Sheepwash Channel.

Rewley Road Station survived for many years after closure, it was used as an engineman's hostel, a tyre and exhaust centre and latterly as a car rental establishment before falling into decay. Plans by Oxford University to build its new Business School on the site resulted in the move of this unique structure to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road Station north of Aylesbury.

With generous assistance from the University work began in January 1999 on the task of dismantling and coding the many parts. Re-erection commenced in August following refurbishment and replacement of badly damaged parts with completion in November 2000. Parts of the station including the original carriage entrance had however been demolished and lost following closure. The Heritage Lottery Fund was approached and awarded a generous grant to enable the missing parts to be constructed using original plans. The completed Station and Visitor Centre were formally opened in April 2002.

The site of Rewley Road Station is now occupied by Oxford University's Said Business School. The sidings and goods shed to the north of the Sheepwash Channel have also been cleared and the site is now occupied by a new housing development. The two rail swing bridge survives although in a very dilapidated condition. The two rails are still in place although the timber decking and timber sleepers are rotting badly, The bridge is (in 2005) surrounded by a temporary contractors fence. An interpretation board on the Business School garden wall shows the swing bridge which is now a listed structure which suggests that it might at some point be restored. The interpretation board depicts Rewley Abbey but although the swing bridge is shown there is no mention of the station which later stood on the site!

The first railway came to Oxford in 1844 when the GWR opened its line from Didcot.
In 1847 the Buckinghamshire Railway Company was formed to promote two lines, one between Oxford and Bletchley with the second running north to Banbury from a junction near Winslow.

Construction of the Banbury line started first on 20th April, 1847 with work starting on the Oxford line on 13th June 1848. The line to Banbury opened first on 1st May, 1850 with a 16 mile section of the Oxford line between Bletchley and Islip opening on the 1st October, 1850.

The remaining section between Islip and Oxford was more problematic. The company had originally hoped to run into the GWR station at Oxford with a junction with the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway north of the city. The GWR wouldn't allow this however and after several other proposals were also rejected the final solution was to build a parallel line into a new terminus at Oxford adjacent to the GWR station.

A temporary terminus at Banbury Road (Oxford Road) on the outskirts of Oxford was opened on 2nd December, 1850 while negations were underway to acquire land for the extension into the city. The new terminus was on the site of Rewley Abbey, a Cistercian Monastery that dated from 1287. To reach Oxford the line had to cross the Oxford Canal or navigable branches of the canal on its approach to the terminus and the railway company was forced to build a number of bridges one of which was a swing bridge over the Sheepwash Channel, a navigable link between the Oxford Canal and the River Thames.

The final section of the line into Oxford was finally opened on the 20th May, 1851 with stations on the Oxford to Bletchley line at Islip, Bicester, Claydon and Winslow. Stations were later added at Swanbourne (by October 1851), Launton (1852), Verney Junction (1868) and Marsh Gibbon & Poundon (2.8.1880). Initially only the section between Bletchley and Claydon was double track but the remaining section of the line between Claydon and Oxford was doubled in 1854.

From the outset the Buckinghamshire Railway was worked by the London & North Western Railway. From 1st July 1851 the LNWR leased the line for 999 years before finally absorbing it in 1879.

The Bletchley to Bedford line had opened in 1846 and the opening of the Bedford to Cambridge line in 1862 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.

In 1905 steam railmotors were introduced between Oxford and Bicester to attract new commuters from the growing suburbs around Oxford. These were later supplemented by the 'Michelin', a prototype petrol railmotor. At the same time six new halts were built between Oxford and Biscester at Summertown, Wolvercote, Oxford Road, Oddington, Charlton and Wendlebury; they were all unstaffed with tickets being sold by the conductor. The six halts were withdrawn from service during WW1 (1.1.1917) and reinstated after the war (5.5.1919). The service was once again withdrawn in 1926 during the General Strike and with the introduction of new bus services never reinstated. A 'Micheline' petrol railmotor was later used.

The Second World War intensified traffic on the line like never before. The largest single development of that period being the Bicester Military Railway. With the return of peace and the nationalisation of the run down railway network the newly formed British Railways board was looking to close unprofitable lines. The terminus at Oxford Rewley Road closed on 1st October 1951 just over a 100 years after it had opened and trains we rerouted into the old Great Western station.

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.

The line between Oxford and Bletchley remained in use for freight, empty stock movements and occasional enthusiasts' specials. The section between Oxford & Bicester London Road was reopened on 15.5.1989 and in 2001 the Strategic Rail Authority looked into reopening the remaining part of the line for passengers between Bicester and Bletchley but this proposal has now been rejected.

The junction at Bletchley was severed some years ago and the track has now been lifted back to Swanbourne. Between Swanbourne and the junction with the Great Central at Claydon a single track is still in situ but now heavily overgrown and out of use; level crossing gates have been removed and replaced with permanent fencing. This section is officially listed as 'mothballed'. From Claydon Junction to Oxford the line is in regular use as part of the freight line between Aylesbury and Oxford.

Route map drawn by Alan Young. Tickets from Michael Stewart


  • Oxford to Cambridge Railway (Volume 1 Oxford - Bletchley) by Bill Simpson - Oxford Publishing Company 1981 ISBN 86093 120 X
  • Forgotten Railways - Chilterns & Cotswolds by R Davies & MD Grant - David & Charles
  • 1975 ISBN 0 7153 6701 3

To see the other stations on the Oxford - Cambridge line click on the station name: 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, Old North Road & Lords Bridge - see also The Bedford Railway (stations still open)

Looking from the ticket barrier along the platform in 1914

1899 1:2,500 OS map shows the GWR through station with the LNWR terminus alongside.

Oxford Rewley Road station forecourt in 1914

Oxford Rewley Road station and goods yard in May 1940

Oxford Rewley Road station looking south towards the buffers c1950.
Photo from John Mann collection

The Railway Enthusiasts' Club The Chiltern 200 railtour at Oxford Rewley Road station pn 14 September 1963. The tour started at Oxford and ran to Chinnor via Verney Junction and Princes Risborogh returning to Oxford via Thame.
Photo by David Pearson

Looking south towards Oxford Rewley Road Station in May 1965. The same
bridge is seen in the 2005 picture below.
Photo by Bernard Mills see Bernard's Fotopic web site

Oxford Rewley Road station looking north in December 1967
hoto by Nick Catford

Oxford Rewley Road station forecourt in December 1967
hoto by Nick Catford

Exterior view of Oxford Rewley Road station in July 1994, four years before the station was dismantled.
Photo by Alan Young

Swing Bridge over the Sheepwash Channel on the approach to Oxford Rewley Road station - seen in March 2005
Photo by Nick Catford

The site of Oxford Rewley Road Station in March 2005. The Said Business Centre now
occupies the site.
hoto by Nick Catford

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Nick Catford]

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