[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 30.11.1896 (this is the official opening date but trains are shown in Bradshaw by January 1894)
Location: East side of Station Road
Company on opening: Metropolitan Railway
Date closed to passengers: 4.3.1963
Date closed completely: 4.7.1966
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: The station has been fully restored by the Quainton Railway Society.
County: Buckinghamshire
OS Grid Ref: SP739190
Date of visit: February 1968, December 1968 , July 1974, June 1975 and 21.5.2008

Notes: The original station at Quainton Road was opened in 1868 as an intermediate station on the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway's (A&BR) single-track line to Aylesbury from Claydon Junction on the London and North Western Railway's Oxford - Cambridge cross-country route. The A&BR's line was worked from the outset by the Great Western Railway who turned down the chance to acquire the A&BR in 1874. The impoverished railway company was eventually absorbed by the Metropolitan Railway in 1891, who doubled the track in 1897. Quainton Road had become the terminus of the Brill Tramway in 1871, one of the first 'light railways' opened under new legislation brought in to support local lines. On 1 December 1899 the tramway became known as the Oxford and Aylesbury Tramway and was absorbed into the Metropolitan which initially planned to extend it to Oxford.

As a result of the replacement of the original level crossing by a road bridge, the original Quainton Road station closed on 29 November 1896 along with the Brill Tramway station, and a new combined station re-located to the east side of Station Road was opened by the Metropolitan Railway the next day.

The MS&LR had concluded an agreement with the Metropolitan on 18 December 1890 allowing it running powers from Quainton Road to Baker Street. However, when the time came to open the line in July 1898, In March 1899 The Great Central Railway reached Quainton Road joining the Metropolitan line about a quarter of a mile north of Quainton Road
station. The Chairman of the Metropolitan, John Bell, unsuccessfully tried to stop the Great Central from exercising its running rights between Aylesbury and London. This prompted the GCR to seek an alternative route to London by promoting a joint railway with the Great Western Railway from Grendon Underwood (a mile to the north of Quainton Road) to Ashendon and Princes Risborough.

The acrimony between the GCR and the Metropolitan cooled in the early years of the twentieth century and an agreement was reached on 4 July 1904 whereby the Metropolitan's lines from Harrow South junction to Chesham, Aylesbury and Verney Junction (including Quainton Road and the Brill Tramway) were transferred to a Metropolitan and Great Central Joint Committee which would pay an annual rent to the Metropolitan.

In 1933, the Metropolitan and the Brill Tramway were absorbed into the London Passenger Transport Board which subsequently closed the tramway on 30 November 1935 in the face of competition from motor lorry traffic. This was to prove a significant omen for the future as the LNER and LPTB withdrew, as an economy measure, passenger services between Aylesbury and Verney Junction from 6 July 1936. Thereafter Quainton Road was used mainly for goods traffic which had increased during both World Wars.

A spur, brought into use on 14 September 1940 at Calvert and linking the Varsity Line with the Great Central Main Line, had the effect of diverting much of the traffic which would have used the Verney Junction - Quainton Road route over the Great Central Main Line. Quainton Road was finally closed to passengers from 4 March 1963 and to goods from 4 July 1966 with the closure of the Great Central.

Quainton Road is today the beautifully maintained centrepiece of the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre which was started by the London Railway Preservation Society (LRPS) in 1969. The LRPS had collected a variety of different items of railway equipment which were temporarily stored at depots in Luton and Bishop's Stortford, but as space became problem the
society began to look for a permanent home. Several sites were considered before Quainton Road, with its two large goods yards, was chosen. The Quainton Railway Society Ltd was formed in 1969 and the LRPS was formally incorporated into it on 24 April 1971. The society was granted charitable status the following year, and became known as the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. As the station did not have any covered accommodation when the society first moved to the site, a building was erected in the down yard which spanned 150ft long tracks, incorporating workshops, a museum and refreshments facility. Another building was acquired from London Transport and was relocated to Quainton from Wembley Park station; it became known as the 'Wembley Shed' and houses engines and carriages awaiting restoration. A 60ft turntable was also later installed. A special service for shoppers was introduced briefly by BR in late 1988 but not repeated.

There are no regular passenger train services, although special services operate from Aylesbury to link with events at the Heritage Centre; these services run via the single line and call at the station's up platform, thus providing step-free access to the centre. The main station building is on the Up side of the line with a smaller (and possibly now unique) wooden building of distinctive style on the platform between the currently-vacant down line trackbed and the platform from which the Brill service ran. At the north-west corner of the site are the somewhat-larger terminal buildings of 1851 from Oxford Rewley Road railway station re-erected here in 2002 (Source: Wikipedia)

Additional reading: A Triumph of Restoration: Oxford Rewley Road Station by Lance Adlam & Bill Simpson. Published 2008 by Lamplight. Available from the Quainton Shop or from Lamplight Publications. Thanks to Bill Simpson for writing the captions for the post 1970 photographs.

Some early scenes in the 1968 film 'Otley' starring Tom Courtenay were filmed at Quainton Road.

The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS & L) was formed in 1846 by the
amalgamation of the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway with two proposed
lines - the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway and the Great Grimsby and Sheffield
Junction Railway; the SA & M had opened between Manchester and Sheffield Bridgehouses in
1845. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway ran between Manchester London Road
(now Piccadilly) via Penistone to Sheffield (the Woodhead route) and on to Brigg, Grimsby and Cleethorpes. A second line left the main line at Penistone and served Barnsley, Doncaster and Scunthorpe before rejoining the Grimsby line at Barnetby. The MS & LR opened a line from Sheffield Bridgehouses to Beighton for passengers on the 12th February 1849. Passengers going south and to London changed on to the ‘Midland’ line at Eckington. On 15th September 1851 a new station called Sheffield Victoria was opened a short distance to the south west of the Bridgehouses terminus which was retained as a goods depot.

In 1854, Edward Watkin became General Manager and then in 1864 chairman of the Company. Watkin's ambition was to build a rail link between the industrial heartland of Manchester and Sheffield, south to London and through a tunnel beneath the channel to reach Paris and the expanding markets of Continental Europe.

In order to fulfil his ambitions, Watkin also became Chairman of the Metropolitan Railway who were in the process of extending their line northwards towards Rickmansworth and the South Eastern Railway connecting London with Dover. Initially, Watkin tried to convince other companies to build links with the MS & L allowing him to reach London but he was unable to reach agreement and eventually was left with little option than to build his own line southward from Sheffield to reach the Metropolitan.

In the 1890's the MS&LR began construction of its 'Derbyshire Lines', in effect the first part of its push southwards. Leaving its east - west main line at Beighton Junction, some 5 1/2 miles east of Sheffield, the line headed south through the Nottingham coal field with a branch line serving its new Central Station in Chesterfield. In July 1890 the MS&LR obtained another act to extend from Chesterfield to Heath creating a loop line. Work started on this new section, of some 4¾ miles, before construction on the original line was finished and opened in July 1893

In 1893 the MS&LR obtained Parliamentary approval to extend this line to London (known as the ‘London Extension’. Construction of the 92 mile route started in 1895 and on 1st August 1897 the company changed its name to the Great Central Railway; it was the last 'main line' to be built until the Channel Tunnel rail link in 2003.

Due to its late construction, the company was able to take advantage of the latest technology including steam excavators. It was heavily engineered with viaducts and wide cuttings with a maximum gradient of 1 in 128; there were no sharp curves or level crossings which would ensure a fast service for both passengers and freight. Most of the stations on the ‘London extension’ were built to a standard design consisting of an island platform with the booking office located on the platform. All the stations were built on an embankment or in a cutting adjacent to a road bridge, with access via stairs from the middle of the bridge; only the larger intermediate stations like Rugby and Loughborough had street level buildings.  Because Edward Watkin also expected his trains to reach Europe through a channel tunnel, the line was also built to a larger continental (Berne) loading gauge. The Great Central opened for coal traffic on 25 July 1898, for passenger traffic to a new terminus at Marylebone on 15 March 1899 and for general goods traffic on 11 April 1899.

The new line was built from Annesley in Nottinghamshire to join the existing Metropolitan Railway which had now reached Quainton Road in Buckinghamshire, where the line became joint Met/GCR owned (after 1903), it returned to GCR metals near Finchley Road for the final section into Marylebone. In 1903, new rails were laid parallel to the Metropolitan Railway from Harrow to the junction north of Finchley Road, enabling more traffic to use Marylebone. Although the new line had now reached London, Edward Watkin was unable to fulfil his ambition as he was forced to retire through ill health.

From the outset, the line had to compete with established north – south routes and the first train only carried a disappointing four passengers so the company had to work hard to win passengers from its rivals; with  a well managed Advertising campaign and the introduction of a fast and efficient train service the companies fortunes slowly improved although it was never a match for its rival lines.

In the 1923 grouping, the Great Central became part of the London & North Eastern Railway which brought an increase in freight traffic from the south Midlands and south west England but the LNER's main north - south route was into London Kings Cross so the Great Central was always considered as a secondary route.

After nationalisation the line became part of British Railways Eastern Region but was transferred to the London Midland Region in 1958. By this time the service was already in decline with the increasing popularity of the car and it was unable to compete with other north - south routes as the line passed through sparsely populated areas south of Rugby. Manchester
to London express services were withdrawn on 2nd January 1960 leaving only three semi-fast trains a day and it came as little surprise when the line became the first main line to close in the Beeching era. Beeching considered that the Great Central was a duplicate route which could be sacrificed in favour of the Midland main line. Many of the intermediate stations, including the Chesterfield loop closed on 4th March 1963 and long distance freight services were withdrawn shortly afterwards.  Annesley Motive Power Depot (between Nottingham and Sheffield) closed on 3rd January 1966 and Nottingham Victoria closed on 5th September 1966 along with the remaining stations south of Rugby. The track was lifted between Rugby and Calvert leaving a diesel multiple unit (DMU) shuttle service operating between Rugby and Arkwright Street and the southern section of the line between Aylesbury and London Marylebone which still carried considerable commuter traffic. The northern section of the line between Sheffield Victoria and Woodhouse also remained open as this also formed part of the Sheffield to Lincoln line. The line north of Nottingham remained in use until May 1968 serving the collieries at Annesley and Newstead and was eventually lifted in October/November 1969.

In 1968 the London Railway Preservation Society chose Quainton Road as its new base, the society being renamed as the Quainton Railway Society; this has now developed into the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre covering 25 acres. The Centre boasts one of the largest private railway collections in the country with numerous steam locomotives, many housed in the former listed trainshed from Oxford Rewley Road which was dismantled and rebuilt at Quainton Road in 1999/2000.

The shuttle service between Nottingham and Rugby lasted until 3rd May 1969. As closure approached a group of railway enthusiasts got together to discuss the possibility of buying a section of the track to operate preserved steam locomotives.  A steam service was reinstated between Loughborough and Quorn in 1973 and in 1976 Charnwood Borough Council agreed to
purchase the land from BR and lease it to the railway for 99 years. Despite a shaky start, the Great Central Railway PLC are now operating throughout the year between their headquarters at Loughborough Central and a new station called Leicester North just inside the city boundary. The remaining track between Leicester - Rugby was lifted in early 1970.

North of Loughborough, the line remained open for freight traffic after closure to passengers in 1969 serving the gypsum mine at East Leake and the Ruddington Ordnance Storage and Disposal Depot south of Nottingham. This traffic ceased in the 1980's and the track north of Loughborough was mothballed by BR. In the early 1990's a group of transport enthusiasts set up the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) Ltd with the aim of redeveloping the derelict Ruddington Ordnance depot as part of a country park project. The depot was turned into the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre (NTHC) and trains were run on a small length of line into the depot.

The NTHC's aim was to reinstate the remaining line into Loughborough where it joins the GCR PLC thus forming a single 18 mile preserved line. In the 1990's NTHC obtained a loan to buy the track from Railtrack. Gypsum traffic resumed in 2000 with up to two daily trains and revenue from British Gypsum is used to pay off the loan. Rushcliffe Halt has now been
restored and in 2003 regular services were reinstated although passenger trains south of
Rushcliffe Halt are limited to the second Sunday of each month as there is no station at

It is now both groups aim to reinstate two bridges, one over the Midland main line north of Loughborough, rebuild 300 yards of embankment and relay little more than a quarter of a mile of track. As well a 'bridging the gap' between the two preserved lines further long term proposals would see the line extended southwards to Leicester Abbey and northwards from Ruddington to join up with the Nottingham tram network and on to Nottingham city centre.

Sheffield Victoria closed on 5th January 1970 with the closure of the Woodhead route and trains from Lincoln were diverted into Sheffield Midland. Although the southern section of the main line remained open, it too was proposed for partial closure in 1986. Aylesbury was to remain open but all services would run into Paddington via Princes Risborough. Marylebone Station was due to close on 12th May 1986 but the station was eventually reprieved and the closure proposals were rescinded. Following rail privatisation in the 1990's, Chiltern Railways took over the route and in 2006 two new platforms were built at Marylebone on the site of the old daytime carriage sidings. The new platforms and partial resignalling of the station throat now make it possible to run 20 trains per hour in and out of the station.

North of Aylesbury the track remains in place but is only used by waste freight trains to the landfill site at Calvert where a junction with the Oxford - Cambridge line remains in use. On selected days, usually bank holidays, special passenger services run to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road station. There are now proposals to extend the
passenger services northwards to a new station called Aylesbury Vale Parkway at the point where the line crosses the A41 near Berryfields Farm. This area is to be known as the Berryfields Major Development Area and will include park and ride facilities for Aylesbury.

With our motorway network now working at capacity there have been a number of proposals to reopen other sections of the Great Central main line and in 2006 Central Railway was formed to look into the feasibility of building a new rail link from central England to the Channel Tunnel which would include rebuilding part of the Great Central route south of Rugby reviving a 1990’s government proposal to reopen that section of the line as part of a fast rail link from Scotland to the Channel Tunnel.

Preservation group web sites: The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, The Great Central Railway (steam service between Loughborough and Leicester North) & Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre (steam service between Ruddington and Loughborough)

Selected other web sites: The Transport Archive contains further detailed history of the Great Central plus a vast collection of 2344 'on line' photographs many ( the Newton Collection) taken during the construction of the London Extension. Chris Ward's Annesley Web site featuring numerous photographs of the Great Central around Nottingham and the Annesley Motive Power Depot. Great Central Railway through Leicester. Nigel Tout's web site with numerous photographs of the Great Central remains around Leicester and a series of archive photographs of the line. Bridging the Gap details ongoing work to reinstate the link between the two preserved lines. The Great Central Railway Society promotes an historical interest in the Great Central Railway.

Selected further reading: Great Central Memories by John MC Healey published 1987 by Baton Transport ISBN 0 85936 193 4 - heavily illustrated history of the London Extension. Great Central Then and Now by Mac Hawkins - published (2nd edition) by BCA 1992 ISBN 0 7153 9326 X , station by station photographic survey of the Great Central between Sheffield and
London with numerous 'then and now' photographs. See also Sheepbridge & Brimington Station and construction of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway through Brimington by Philip Cousins. Published in St. Michael & All Saints, Brimington parish magazine. (Click here for full text). All tickets from Michael Stewart except 0013 Brian Halford.

Too see other stations on the Great Central Railway between Sheffield Victoria and Aylesbury click on the station name: Aylesbury, Waddesdon, Quainton Road (1st site), Calvert, Finmere, Brackley Central, Helmdon, Culworth, Woodford Halse, Charwelton, Braunston & Willoughby, Rugby Central, Lutterworth, Ashby Magna, Whetstone, Leicester Central, Leicester North***, Belgrave & Birstall, Rothley**, Swithland****, Quorn & Woodhouse**, Loughborough Central**, East Leake, Rushcliffe Halt**, Ruddington, Ruddington Factory Halt, Arkwright Street, Nottingham Victoria, Carrington, New Basford, Bulwell Common, Bulwell Hall Halt, Hucknall Central, Annesley South Junction Halt, Hollinwell & Annesley, Kirkby Bentinck, Tibshelf Town, Pilsley, Heath, Staveley Central, Renishaw Central, Killamarsh Central, Beighton (1st site), Beighton (2nd site), Woodhouse Junction, Woodhouse*, Darnall*, Sheffield Victoria & Sheffield Bridgehouses.
Chesterfield loop - Staveley Works, Brimington, Chesterfield Central & Grassmoor

* Station still open but included for completeness ** Station reopened by Great Central steam railway and Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre *** New station opened by Great Central steam railway
**** Station planned and partially built but not opened

Quainton Road Station looking east in February 1897

This 1954 OS map clearly shows the site of the original level crossing which was replaced by the present bridge in 1896. The bridge is built on the site of the original Quainton Road Station.

Quainton Road Station looking n orth west in 1897
hoto by S W A Newton from Leicester & Rutland Record Office

Manning Wardle & Co. built 'K' class 0-6-0 saddletank locomotive, 1249 (formerly BRILL No. 1), stands in the branch platform at Quainton Road station c. 1897.
hoto by S W A Newton from Leicester & Rutland Record Office

Quainton Road Station looking east before June 1907. The Brill Tramway platform is to the right
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Quainton Road Station looking west in the early 1960's
Photo from Ian Baker collection

Quainton Road station looking east frrom the footbridge on 27 August 1966. Stephenson Locomotive Society (Midland Area) Farewell to the G.C.R. railtour waits in the platform.
Photo by Nigel Lester

Quainton Road Station looking east in December 1968, shortly after the line had been singled
Photo by Nick Catford

The Quainton Railway Society chartered a DMU from British Rail to operate a passenger service from Aylesbury to Quainton Road station on bank holiday weekends between 1971 and 1987. The service was named 'Quaintonian' and is still run on August bank holiday weekends with the service provided by a heritage DMU. The Quintonian is seen here in the summer of 1972.
Photo by Norman Daley

Quainton Road Station looking west in 1974
Photo by John Law from his Everything on Rails web site

Looking west from the new footbridge at Quainton Road in May 2008. The erstwhile main line of the Met & GCR Joint is seen in the centre with Quainton Road Station seen in the distance. To its right is the LNWR's Rewley Road Station, brought to the Buckinghamshire Railway centre from Oxford in 1999.
Photo by Nick Catford

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