Saturday, February 1, 2014

The road embankment at Wolverton Station

This photograph taken by Helen Orme in the 1970s, more-or-less from Stonebridge Farm, is a reminder of how this once looked.

You can see the peaked roof of the third station and the large signal box which once controlled traffic through and around the station. In the background is the then recent Gables Tower block.

About a decade before this photo the bridge had been raised further to accommodate the electric power cables so this embankment became even steeper. The road configuration has changed now but at one time the Newport Road started to rise to the left of this picture and made a sharp left hand turn at the junction with the Haversham Road. This hill was entirely artificial.

As you can see from the foreground here the natural slope is fairly gradual. 1t rose to canal level, which is a good bit below the level of the railway line which was not here before 1880. The original railway line went along what is now McConnell Drive, close by the Tesco car park and the access road to the Old Wolverton road was closer to Wolverton Park. There was probably a hump-backed bridge over the canal but even so the slope would have been much more gradual than it is now.

In 1844 a new road was constructed from Wolverton to Stony Stratford and has been since then the main road between Wolverton and Stony Stratford. The old road was no longer supported by the Turnpike Trust and probably deteriorated until roads were taken over by County Councils in 1888. This became the "Old" Wolverton Road.

The LNWR decision to build a  railway bypass so that the Works would not have to straddle an increasingly busy main line, led to the creation of the embankment, a third station (seen here), a second bridge over the Old Wolverton road, and, as a by-product of these decisions, a new sports ground in the field between the two railways. The new line opened in 1881.

Ever since then, people have had to labour up a steep hill to get to Wolverton.


2 comments:

Heather Kavanagh said...

Hi Bryan

Some years ago I was planning a scale model railway of Wolverton Station set in the early 1960s. I spent a good deal of time on the site, walking around and photographing the various structures that remain. I have to say there is little evidence the road bridge was lifted to accommodate the main line electrification. I'd always assumed, as you have said, the road bridge and station were raised - as so many other structures along the line were at the time.

What appears to have happened in the preparation for putting in the 25kV overhead equipment was to strengthen and widen the road bridge. This accounts for the concrete you can still see on the bridge today. The original iron beams were replaced by concrete beams, and the station building was not moved at all.

I hope that's of interest to you.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

Thanks for this Heather. Once I stopped to think about it I realised that the street level was still at the same level as the wooden station, so my imagination was running away with me. Just to confirm your research I asked a friend of mine who has first hand knowledge to comment. Here are his remarks:
I worked in the Bridge Office at Euston when work was done in 1962 on Bridge No.175 and the scheme as I remember it was reconstruct, widening and track lowering. Also in association with this was parapet raising to accommodate proposed electrification. Minimum statutory height was 6 foot above footpath level. The 'Nobby' Line didn't have to be done because it was never electrified. The differnce in levels is still apparent today. You may recall that Wolverton Park steps were renewed at this time