Friday, December 17, 2010

The First Station

Although the first trains from Euston took 3 hr 15 minute to reach Wolverton there were not many stops. The first station was Harrow,  just 8 miles from Euston, then Watford, at the time a small town of under 3,000 people. They built a station at Boxmoor to serve Hemel Hempstead and another at Berkhampstead. By the time they reached Tring they were only 30 miles from London. The only stop between Tring and Wolverton was Leighton Buzzard. Bletchley had not been built. Wolverton was the half way point between London and Birmingham and for this reason was chosen at the service depot.

The first station was not a grand affair and was built on the embankment to the north of the canal. It must have become quickly apparent that it was inconveniently located and the Board soon resolved to build a more splendid station at the southern end of the new town.  Wolverton was not the only example of this early siting of stations. The temporary station at the infamous Denbigh Hall was one such, and Blisworth was provided with a similar arrangement. A drawing of this first station survives and here we can see a representation of a double flight of stairs that probably made it unpopular with passengers.


The drawing is not entirely satisfactory. The Binns and Clifford survey of 1840 shows a Goods Shed beside the wharf where the hoist has been drawn and a pumping station on the other side of the railway line. The large building on the left appears to have the height and dimensions of a pumping station but it is closer to the wharf near to where the Goods Shed was actually located and may be a representation of that Goods Shed.

In fairness it must be said that the original illustration in Thomas Roscoes “The London and Birmingham Railway” was about half the size represented here and was not indended to offer much detail.

The station lasted from 1838 to 1840.

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