Buckinghamshire Railway Centre Logo

BRC Website Home
Quainton Virtual Stockbook
Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 13 - September 1972

The Wotton Tramway: Rise and Fall - Prologue and Foreword

"Visitors journeyed from all parts to make a final trip on the picturesque line; there were crowds at every station, line side watchers, and enthusiasts in cars who accompanied the trains along the adjacent road. To the usual carriage a more modern vehicle was attached, but still more than half the travellers were without seats ....... "

Reading that today, one might be excused for thinking that the event happened recently; the closure of one more line to passenger traffic by British Rail. But this paragraph appeared in the January 1936 issue of the Railway Magazine, long before Lord Beeching's axe was wielded on the nation's railway system. The line concerned was the Wotton Tramway from Quainton Road to Brill.

This rural outpost of the former Metropolitan Railway evidently held a great fascination for many people as well as railway enthusiasts. There was something rather absurd about a 6½ mile long country branch line belonging to London Transport, the same organization which operated Baker Street or crowded Liverpool Street Underground station and handling tens of thousands of passengers a week. In contrast, the Brill line, especially in its later years, often carried no passengers at all and the train crew would, it is rumoured, go hunting in Wotton Underwood. In those days and even today the woods contain a lot of wildlife! But the pace wasn´t always so leisurely and the story of the line is worth retelling.

As a backcloth to the events to be told in this serial it will help the reader to introduce the two most important landowners in this area of Buckinghamshire, the Third Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, (1823 - 1889), and Sir Harry Verney, (1801- 1894). The Duke was known as Earl Temple until 1839 when he became the Marquis of Chandos. The Greville's family seat was at Stowe but the Marquis found the estate badly in debt and the 1840's were difficult years financially. Fortunately the Marquis had business qualities of a high order and in developing his property he had a neighbour of considerable energy and vision, Sir Harry Verney. Sir Harry of Claydon Hall knew George Stephenson and made himself acquainted with the new system of railways which he welcomed to his estates. In 1846 Sir Harry Verney was the Chairman and the Marquis was a Director of the Oxford and Bletchley Railway. This line was opened to traffic from Bletchley to Buckingham in May 1850 and to Oxford in May 1851. It was leased to the London and North Western Railway two months later. The Marquis became Chairman of the LNWR in October 1853 and within two years he was planning a railway to serve his property at Wotton Hall. In the first Chapter in the December 'News' we will follow the development of this remarkable line.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1972 and so does not reflect events in the 40+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

The Wotton Tramway: Rise and Fall - Prologue and Foreword - Quainton News No. 13 - September 1972

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Email Webmaster
Page Updated: 20 October 2017