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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 14 - December 1972

The Wotton Tramway: Rise and Fall Part 1 - The Early Years, Quainton is Served by Rail

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H C Casserley - Metropolitan Railway 41 1 Brill, 15th March, 1930

Railways came to Buckinghamshire early. The London and Birmingham Railway opened the first section of its main line from Euston to Boxmoor in July 1837 and the route cut across the north-east corner of the County. Sir Harry Verney, the Buckinghamshire landowner, was a promoter of the Company who built the branch from Cheddington which, in June 1839, put Aylesbury on the railway map. Then, in June 1846, two Companies were formed which were the foundations of our story. Firstly, the Oxford and Bletchley Junction Railway was promoted to build a railway between the two named towns and, secondly, the Buckinghamshire and Brackley Junction Railway was proposed for a line from Winslow Junction, some 6 miles west of Bletchley, to run in a north westerly direction through Buckingham to Brackley. Both these schemes were dissolved and in their place the Buckinghamshire Railway was incorporated by an Act of 22 July 1847. The new Company proposed to construct railways on routes similar to those put forward in 1846 but added an extension from Brackley to Banbury and significantly for Quainton´s future, a branch south from Claydon to Aylesbury. As recorded in the September issue of "Quainton News" the line to Buckingham via Claydon was opened from Bletchley in May 1850 and from a junction at Claydon to Oxford in May 1851. The Act had given powers to the LNWR to lease or purchase the line and they had been responsible for its operation from the opening day. In accordance with these -powers a lease was signed in 1852 and the old Company was, in fact, dissolved and vested in the LNWR in 1879.

The value of the railway in reducing transport costs of goods such as coal and fertilisers was fully recognised by Sir Harry Verney of Claydon and by the Marquis of Chandos, who owned the extensive estates at Wotton. Both men were very active in railway affairs and were Directors of a number of railway Companies. Indeed, the Duke became the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the LNWR in 1853 and it is not surprising to find him forming a Company with other local landowners, including Sir Harry Verney, to revive the Aylesbury branch which had been planned in the mid '40s. The prospectus for the new promotion, which was called the Aylesbury and Buckinghamshire Railway, was for a single line of track from Aylesbury where a connecting spur across Walton Street and a junction with the LNWR branch from Cheddington at Park Street would be laid. The route was then to take a westerly direction to pass to the west side of Quainton Hill before turning due north to join the Oxford line at a point about 2 miles equidistant from Claydon and Winslow stations. The capital authorised by the Act was £98,000 and the Bill was passed on 6 August 1860. A close alliance with LNWR was assured by the fact that the Marquis of Chandos was its Chairman. The Act empowered the larger Company to work the line and this they agreed to do. Construction was started by awarding a contract to a Mr. F. Rummens and work commenced in February 1861 at the northern end of the railway near Claydon. Soon, however, a cloud fell over the hitherto sunny prospects, for late in 1861 the Marquis was forced to relinquish his chairmanship of the main line Company and the LNWR Board, who had not been enthusiastic over the Aylesbury line, withdrew their support from the railway which was still in its infancy. The capital for acquiring land and for the various contracts proved to be inadequate and additional powers were required to authorise more funds; £12,000 by an Act of 25 July 1864 and £110,000 by an Act of 19 June 1865. The LNWR did not relent when the works were all but completed and the connection into the Aylesbury High Street branch was being laid. At this late hour they declared that they were not prepared to provide locomotives or rolling stock for operating the new railway and the A & BR had to look elsewhere for help.

During this period the same contractor had been building a railway to Aylesbury from the south with tracks laid to the GWR broad gauge. This was the Wycombe Railway from Princes Risborough which had been authorised in 1861. It was opened on October 1, 1863 to a station adjacent to the present day site at Aylesbury and it was to this Company the A & BR diverted their tracks and made an alliance when they were in trouble. The cost of the actual station construction at Aylesbury was shared between the Wycombe Railway and the A & BR. The Great Western Railway had absorbed the Wycombe Railway in 1867 and it was this Company that supplied the rolling stock for the opening on September 23, 1868 of the A & BR's single line to a station named Verney Junction on the Oxford and Bletchley railway. The service of three trains a day in each direction of ancient four-wheeled carriages stopped at stations provided at Waddesdon, Quainton Road, Grandborough Road and Winslow Road to their way to Verney. Indeed, the route had been especially taken to the west of Quainton village so that it ran near to the Wotton estates of the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. Although the Duke had rejected a scheme to serve his land in 1855 there had been a remarkable growth of railways in Britain in the intervening years. Furthermore, Parliament had enacted legislation to encourage the use of the railway for the benefit of agricultural communities. By the Railway Construction Facilities Act of 1864 no Act was necessary if landowners were agreeable to having a line through their property; by the Regulation of Railways Act of 1868 Light Railways could be authorised and by an Act of 1871 Light Railways were stipulated to be worked with an 8 tons maximum weight and 25 miles per hour maximum speed.

Against this background the construction of the Wotton tramway from Quainton Road station to the Duke's estates proceeded in the late summer of 1870 using labour from the estates to level the ground and prepare for the ballast and permanent way.

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 Part 1: The Early Years, Quainton is Served by Rail - Quainton News No. 14 - December 1972

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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