Your first stop for Buckingham Town information

Buckingham Railway

If you take a walk along Hunter Street towards Mitre Street, you'll see an old red-brick viaduct. This is one of the few clues that link Buckingham with the railways that were once prevalent throughout the UK. Turning left into Station Road (another clue) leads you up a hill to a car park which once served as the town's station.


The original station at Buckingham was a modest structure with a wooden building on the Lenborough Road side. It had poor access being virtually in the middle of a field along a footpath. A new station was opened in 1861 with a new Station Road serving the station on the opposite side of the line to the earlier entrance.


At the outbreak of WW1 the LNWR decided to make economies on the branch, one of these was the closing of the signal box at Buckingham goods yard which was 750 yards north of the station. This section was the only double track length on the branch and as a result the down line was severed at the station and buffer stops were placed there. The long siding was then used to store a mixture of stock.

The war time construction of an ammunition works at Banbury intensified goods working through Buckingham. (The ammunition works can still be seen either side of the M40).

Buckingham goods yard was located on the north side of the A421 and consisted of two sidings serving three coal wharves, a timber yard and an oil store with a loopline running through a goods shed with another short siding serving a cattle dock. During the 1930's a new cattle dock was built at the station on the site of the original platform to comply with

new government legislation requiring water to be available during loading and unloading.


Until 1844 Buckinghamshire had been poorly served by railways with only Aylesbury connected to the London & Birmingham in the east. With the support of the L & B two separate companies were formed, the Buckingham and Brackley Junction Railway and the Oxford and Bletchley Junction Railway. In 1847 under the direction of the newly formed London & North Western Railway the two were merged into a unified board with the collective name of the Buckinghamshire Railway


The line was to run westward from Bletchley to Oxford, via Winslow and Bicester, with a junction near Claydon House (later Verney Junction) where another line turned north to Brackley via Buckingham, with a further extension to Banbury. The engineer employed to build the Buckinghamshire Railway was Robert Stephenson


Construction started on 20th April 1847 and on 1st May 1850 the Buckinghamshire Railway was opened for passenger traffic from Bletchley to Banbury. From the outset the line was worked by the LNWR who absorbed the Buckinghamshire Railway in 1879.

The major objective of the branch was the small market town of Buckingham. Until the railway came to the town transport had not been good which it was felt was stopping development of the town. A branch of the Grand Union canal reached Buckingham in 1801 but even after the opening of the canal and the railway little development occurred.

The busiest part of the line was the 5 1/2 mile section from Banbury Merton Street to Cockley Brake where there was a junction with the Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway.

Passenger traffic over the whole line was comparatively light although the LNWR operated various specials and excursions over the years to encourage use. Passenger levels reached their peak just before WW1 after which they declined more or less continually as competition from the bus and growing car ownership began to increase. WW2 brought a short lived improvement but with new BR management the line was under review. A threat to its future became imminent in 1952 when BR reduced services to three trains each way per day, having withdrawn Banbury - Towcester Trains (via the junction at Cockley Brake) the previous year.


In spite of this, the line survived and was selected for an experiment as part of the 1955 Railway Modernisation Plan using lightweight single unit diesel railcars. These railcars were introduced during the summer of 1956 but strangely they only ran from Banbury to Buckingham, where connection was made with the traditional steam push-pull service. New halts at Radclive and Water Stratford were opened between Fulwall & Westbury and Buckingham and a third on the edge of Buckingham was suggested but not built.


The new railcars attracted a reported increase in traffic of 400% with the service being well used on market days and Saturdays but the improvement was insufficient to save the service between Buckingham and Banbury which closed from 2nd January 1961. The remaining passenger facilities between Buckingham and Verney Junction lingered until 7th September 1964 using the diesel units transferred from the Banbury section. Freight facilities were withdrawn from Banbury on 6th June 1966 and from Buckingham from 3rd December 1966 with track lifting underway by February 1967.

For further reading see The Banbury to Verney Junction Branch by Bill Simpson. Oxford Publishing Company 1978 ISBN 902888 87 0


Source: © Subterranea Britannica 1995–2008