Friday, July 15, 2011

Moon's Folly

The original railway line followed the course of what is now McConnell Drive. The first engine shed was built to the west of the line and later workshops were built to fill the triangle of land between the railway line, the Stratford Road and the canal. The shell of these later buildings survive and have been converted to residential use in recent years.

By the 1870s railway traffic had grown to the level that four tracks were needed and there was little room on either side of the existing tracks for development without demolishing buildings. This would have been possible but it would have divided the two sides of the works in an impractical way. Wolverton was by this time no longer an important stop for all trains and express trains needed a clear run through Wolverton.

The chairman was the energetic and forceful Sir Richard Moon and he determined that the works would be united and the best solution was to build a loop line which skirted Wolverton to the east. This necessitated building a new embankment, a new canal bridge and a second bridge over the Old Wolverton Road. Plans were drawn up in 1878 and the work was finished in 1882.

Old railway hands were dismissive of the project. They felt that the curve and the camber of the line would lead to derailment at high speed and dubbed the project "Moon's Folly". In the event there was no known incident of derailment and the loop line appears to have been well-engineered.

This was an enterprise undertaken at some cost but the consequences were benign. The station was slightly further away for Wolverton residents but nearer for New Bradwell. The rather splendid second station was lost, together with the famous refreshment room, but by this time, as I have already said, Wolverton had lost its importance as a compulsory stop for all trains.

No comments: