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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 11 - March 1972
On the Verney Line - by Mr F S White
In Quainton News No. 10 reference is made to the Aylesbury and Buckinghamshire Railway which was opened in 1868 south west from Claydon on the Bletchley and Oxford line to Aylesbury. The article on Quainton Road Station suggested that the junction with this line north of Quainton was finally removed in 1946 but I am fairly sure it was in use until just after the end of the Second World War, notwithstanding the opening of the Calvert spur during the early years of the war. I am open to correction on this point, since I have no written record or working timetables by me, but I believe that the last train over the branch ran in the summer of 1947 - perhaps someone can finally establish the date.
I did not come across the line until the early nineteen-fifties, but I seem to remember that the double-line junction at Quainton was then still in situ. One detail that did impress itself upon my memory was that, although the disused rails were by that time almost black with rust, the signal lamps in the branch up home (LNER upper-quadrant pattern, situated a short distance from the overbridge on the Shipton Lee road, on the Granborough Road side), and the down junction signal for the branch, just north of Quainton Road Station, (GCR lower-quadrant pattern, on a bracket) were kept lighted. The branch up and down tracks at the Quainton end came together into a single track beneath the overbridge on the Shipton Lee road but some time before the junction with the main line was taken out the points under the road bridge, which were trailing in the down direction, were disconnected and set midway, neither blade being against a stock rail. This gave rise to some interesting speculations as to what might have happened if a train had been sent up the branch from the Verney end - though, of course, this never did happen! The branch was eventually dismantled in 1957 by a firm of contractors from Alfreton in Derbyshire, who brought their own equipment by road and did not use a demolition train.
At Winslow Road Station (is the name still on the signpost at the road fork outside Winslow, where the road to Granborough diverges?) the wooden hut that used to house the ground frame, close to the level crossing, had at its southern end a small awning rather like a shop blind that could be pulled out and down to give the hut's occupant shade against the tropical sunshine of North Bucks. The inside walls of the hut were covered with pencilled names, many of them being those of Italian prisoners of war who were employed locally on agricultural work. There is - or was- a local story that an unexploded bomb lies near the old line on the Verney junction side of Winslow Road crossing, dropped by a bomber trying for the junction, but I cannot vouch for the truth of the tale. Finally, I have one vivid recollect ion of seeing a Black Five getting to grips with a long train of condemned coaching stock on the section of line between Verney junction and Winslow Road, where obsolete rolling stock used to be stored before being sent for breaking-up. It was a clear, frosty, brilliantly sunny winter's day with snow on the ground; doubtless the vacuum brakes on the carriages were in indifferent condition and dragging against the engine. She set back, eased forward - nothing doing; set back - eased forward again - still nothing doing. A little more regulator - groanings and a trace of movement from a dozen or so reluctant coaches - not a sound in the silence of the countryside except a slight blow from a protesting piston packing - a sense of rising tension and of tremendous power being held in leash. Then suddenly a shattering roar as the Black Five lost her footing, and an almost atomic cloud of smoke and steam went surging and boiling and spinning straight up twenty or thirty feet into the still, sunlit air. In a few seconds it was all over and everything under control again - the long train began to move away towards Verney to the accompaniment of a lovely, deep, full-throated "whoof! whoof!" from the Stanier's chimney, the triumphant song of Big Steam, now almost lost to the world - but while it lasted it was, and is, unforgettable to many of us.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 17 October 2017