Station Name: OXFORD ROAD HALT

[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 9.10.1905
Location: On the south-west side of Oxford Road (A165)
Company on opening: London & North Western Railway
Date closed to passengers: 25.10.1926
Date closed completely: 25.10.1926
Company on closing: London Midland & Scottish Railway
Present state: Demolished
County: Oxfordshire
OS Grid Ref: SP500118
Date of visit: 31.3.2005

Notes: 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.


The 'Micheline' petrol railmotor

The Micheline was a 24 seater vehicle running on pneumatic tyres which are were adapted for use on railway tracks and propelled by an internal combustion engine.

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The six halts were withdrawn from service during WW1 (1.1.1917) and reinstated after the war (5.5.1919). The service was once again withdrawn in 1926 during the General Strike and with the introduction of new bus services never reinstated.

The two maps below show the halt on different sides of the Oxford Road level crossing, this suggests it had staggered platforms, one either side of the crossing. A siding and a weighbridge are shown on the north side of the crossing, these predate the halt and indicate that goods traffic was handled here. In 1935 the crossing was replaced by a bridge to the north-east and a new weighbridge was built on the north side of the bridge. This served a coal depot, roadstone terminal and, in 1940, a massive buffer grain silo was built. The silo still stands although it has been derelict since the 1980s. The old LMS weigh office that served the coal depot was still standing in 2005 but has now been demolished.

In 2008 there were plans to demolish the silo to build a waste recycling plant. There was strong opposition to these proposals both from local councils and environmentalists but thge plant was approved and and article in the Oxford Mail stated that 'demolition work is set to begin immediately'. Five years later the silo is still there.

There is currently a Park & Ride facilty behind the grain silo and a railway aggregate depot between the silo and the railway. There are now plans to build a Water Eaton Parkway station on the site of the aggregate depot, just north of the former Oxford Road Halt site. The station forms part of Project Evergreen 3, funded and managed by Chiltern Railways. It would be served every half hour by trains running between London Marylebone and Oxford. Chiltern Railways plans to open the station in 2015. The East West Rail Consortium's planned rail service between Oxford and Milton Keynes Central and Bedford Midland will also serve the new station.

Water Eaton Parkway will serve Kidlington, north Oxford and nearby villages, and attract park and ride traffic from the busy A34 road. The existing car park will be enlarged for this purpose.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE OXFORD - CAMBRIDGE RAILWAY (Oxford - Bletchley section)
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.

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. and Biscester a single track is still in situ but now heavily overgrown and out of use.

Route map drawn by Alan Young. Ticket from Michael Stewart

Sources:

  • 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: Oxford Rewley Road, Port Meadow Halt, Wolvercote 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)


A G2 hauls a freight train across the Oxford Road crossing c1932. By this date the halt had closed and the platforms had been demolished.
P
hoto by K Pindar



1913 1:2,500 shows the halt on the north side of the crossing but the 1" map above shows it on the south side. This suggestes the halt had staggered platforms. one either side of the crossing. A weighbridge and siding are shown on the north side of the crossing, these predate the halt.

1936 1:2,500 OS map shows the crossing has been replaced by a bridge to the north in 1935. There is now a new weigth bridge on the north side of the bridge serving the coal amd roadstone depots.

1936 1:2,500 OS map shows the 1940 grain silo top right.

The site of Oxford Road Halt seen from Water Eaton bridge in March 2003. The halt had staggered patforms, one either side of the Oxford Road level crossing which was in the middle distance.
P
hoto by Nick Catord

The WW2 Grain silo. In the foreground the LMS weigh office can be seen in the centre with a later weigh office and weighbridge to the left built by Amey & Co. for their roadstone terminal.
P
hoto by Nick Catford

WW2 Grain silo.
P
hoto by Nick Catford

Unloading stone from the Mendips at Hanson's aggreagate siding in February 2006. Note the new weighbridge, the old LMS weigh office was demolished when this was put in.
P
hoto by Ken Bruntx

WW2 Grain silo
Photo by Ken Brunt

Layout of the proposed Water Eaton Parkway station.

 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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