Station Name: WADDESDON

[Source: Nick Catford]


Date opened: 1.1.1897
Location: West side of an un-named minor road
Company on opening: Metropolitan Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.7.1936
Date closed completely: 6.7.1936
Company on closing: London Passenger Transport Board/LNER Joint.
Present state: A degraded part of the down platform survives, There is still a ramp down from the road to the station. The station area is used for storing permanent way material.
County: Buckinghamshire
OS Grid Ref: SP758179
Date of visit: February 1968, July 1974 and 21.5.2008

Notes: Waddesdon Manor was opened by the Metropolitan Railway on 1st January 1897 to serve the village of Waddesdon the the south west; it had very basic facilities. The station was provided single-storey rectangular brick building with a pitched slate roof on the down platform. This included the booking hall, booking office, waiting rooms and toilets. The toilets were at the north end of the building with a ventilator on the roof. There was a short canopy over the entrance door in the centre of the building and, on the platform side, a flat-roofed canopy with a deeply fretted valance ran the full length of the building.

The up platform was provided with a timber waiting shelter with a curved roof. Identical buildings, main building and waiting shelter, were provided at Winslow Road, Granborough Road and Quainton Road; those at Quainton Road are extant and fully restored. The two platforms were spanned by a lattice footbridge supported on brick towers which included two small stores.

There was a small goods yard on the down side comprising a loop siding from which a line ran alongside a cattle dock to the rear of the down platform. There were cattle pens on the dock. A signal box on the up side to the west of the station controlled access to the yard.

It was the first station north of Aylesbury on the section of the Metropolitan Railway between Aylesbury and Verney Junction. The station was renamed Waddesdon on 1 October 1922. The station was closed to passenger and freight traffic on 5 July 1936 following the Metropolitan Railway's absorption into the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933.

While open, the station was also served by the Great Central Railway which shared the same tracks as the Metropolitan Line as far as Quainton Road. During the late 1960's the freight line which remained open to a landfill site at Calvert was singled and realigned, at this time the up platform was demolished and the down platform is now devoid of track.

Because of its association with the Metropolitan Line this station is considered to be one of the closed London Underground stations although it is over 30 miles from London and is not underground.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GREAT CENTRAL RAILWAY BETWEEN SHEFFIELD AND LONDON
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 London 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
Loughborough.

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 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.

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), Quainton Road (2nd site)**, Calvert, Finmere, 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), 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


Waddesdon Manor Station looking north west in the early 20th century
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection



1899 1:2,500 OS map shows Waddesdon Manor station as built. There is a single loop siding on the down side serving a cattle dock and pens behind the down platform. A signal box on the up side controls access to the small yard.


1925 1:2,500 OS map. Nothing has changed apart from the name of the station which has been shortened to Waddesdon.


The station entrance c early 20th century. The station building is identical to that at Quainton Road which has now been restored.
Photo from John Mann collection


A Quainton Road steam railmotor waits at Waddesdon station in the early 1930'

Waddesdon Station looking south east along the down platform in February 1968. Note the cattle dock on the right. The cattle pens stood on the dock.
Photo by Nick Catford


Waddesdon Station looking south east in February 1968
Photo by Nick Catford



Waddesdon Station looking north-west in July 1974. By this date the track has been singled and realigned and the up platform has been demolished or covered over.
Photo by Nick Catford

Waddesdon station looking north-west in March 1989
Photo by John Mann


Freight train bound for the landfill site at Calvert passing through Waddesdon Station in March 2004
Photo by Roger Marks from his Flickr photostream


Looking north-west at the site of Waddesdon station in November 2005.
Photo by Rob Davidson


37411 Caerphilly Castle passes the site of Waddesdon Station with the Pathfinder Tours Bard'n'Birch' railtour on 17 February 2007, now running as the 1Z39 17:00 Quainton Road to Bristol Temple Meads.
Photo by Martin Loader from his Railway Photography web site


Class 121 'bubble' car 121020 passing the former station at Waddesdon with the Quaintonian service from Aylesbury to Quainton Road on 7th May 2007. The Quaintonian is a shuttle service on August bank holiday Monday that operates between Aylesbury and The Buckinghamshire
Railway Centre at Quainton Road.
Photo by Roger Marks from his Flickr photostream


The remaining down platform at Waddesdon Station looking south east in May 2008.
Photo by Nick Catford


DEMU 1001 thumps past the remains of Waddesdon Manor station on 14 May 2011 with the Hastings Diesels 1Z59 15:08 Quainton Road to Hastings 'Metrolander' railtour. The crumbling edge of the platform face of this remote station can just be seen amid the bushes, otherwise the site is only marked by the presence of piles of redundant rails.
Photo by Martin Loader from his Railway Photography web site


1G21 Calvert-Bow Depot empty bin liner passing the site of Waddesdon Manor station in March 2014. The platform has been cleared of undergrowth and is now used as a storage area. The north end of the platform has been demolished.
Photo by Cliff Jones


May 2008

May 2008

Click on thumbnail to enlarge


 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]






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