Sunday, November 28, 2010
The First Day at Wolverton Station
Finally, and to great fanfare, the line was fully open on September 17th 1838. Wolverton Station, and subsequently the new town, was born.
At Wolverton Station the occasion was celebrated by
"a fete on a large scale ... given to the workmen, and ... the cause of great jollity and good humour. A very large assembly of spectators from the neighbourhood congregated at this place. At Stratford, booths and stalls were erected, and the place had all the characteristics of a large country fair. The road to the station was crowded with foot people and vehicles of every description."44 Shortly after nine the great moment arrived when a plume of white steam was espied across the fields to the south.45 Soon the tall funnel of the locomotive came into sight, leading a train of just two carriages, ashine in their newly painted livery. Inside the first were directors and important officials of the company - George Carr Glyn, the chairman, Edward Bury, the locomotive superintendent who had designed the engine, Richard Creed, one of the secretaries of the company (all of whose names were to be commemorated in streets and squares ofthe town that was to grow up around the station), and Robert Stephenson, the engineer, while the second carriage bore the Duke of Sussex, uncle of the young Queen Victoria, and his suite. They had left the London terminus at Euston Square just two hours before, and had made the journey without mishap. At Wolverton the distinguished passengers descended from their carriages while the engine was changed, a necessary procedure in those early days. Little more than an hour later a second train arrived, pulling sixteen firstclass carriages and four "gentleman's carriages". Later in the afternoon another train was observed approaching from the north. This had not been so fortunate, for on approaching Wolverton its fire-basket had dropped out, causing a two-hour delay, but at last it steamed proudly across the great viaduct and pulled up in the station. The delay only served to prolong a festive day; "the workmen," it was reported, "were regaled with bread, beef and beer, and after their entertainment departed in a very creditable manner."