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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 26 - Winter 1975

The Wotton Tramway: Rise and Fall Part 9 - The Ten Eventful Years to 1899

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Aldwyth - A Manning, Wardle & Co. 0-6-0ST similar to the engines introduced on to the Brill Tramway in the 1880's. This engine was built in 1882, Maker's No. 865 and was photographed in 1967 at Caerleon in Monmouthshire. It was owned by Mr R L Dean but is recently reported to be destined for the Gwili Railway near Carmarthen.[Note 1]

The 1883 Oxford project envisaged a full scale railway and the authorised capital was £300,000. It was superseded by the 1888 Act which approved a single line tramroad from Brill to the University City. The simplicity of the second scheme was reflected by the authorised capital of only £85,000. The 1888 Act also changed the name of the Wotton Tramroad to become the Oxford & Aylesbury Tramroad. Furthermore it required the old Tramroad from Quainton Road to Brill to be relaid with steel rails on cross sleepers.

This was the situation in 1889 and it was the beginning of ten very eventful years. These years started with the Tramway in a very run down condition, with worn out track, no proper station buildings and with primitive rolling stock. The decade ended with the permanent way in good order, adequate premises at each station on the line, more powerful locomotives and new bogie passenger carriages.

In July 1888 the Company agreed to lease the Wotton Tramway from the Duke of Buckingham but six months later, on 26th March, 1889, the Duke died and his nephew, Earl Temple, took over his interests concerning the Tramway. A valuation of the Tramway made in the May showed assets of £1,567 and debts of £838. The locomotive stock comprised the two Aveling & Porter engines and one of the Bagnalls. There were also eight goods wagons and the two original passenger coaches.

Earl Temple did not abandon the Oxford project. By an Act of 25th July, 1890, the Metropolitan Railway acquired the Aylesbury & Buckingham Railway through Quainton Road to Verney Junction, the Metropolitan Railway were busily building the extension of their main line north from Rickmansworth. The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway were planning their London Extension for which they obtained powers in 1893. With these developments taking place it would not have been the ideal time to abandon the opportunities presented by the 1888 Act for a route to Oxford from Quainton. The 1888 Act required the tramroad to be built within four years but work had not been started so it was decided to apply for a No. 2 Act to extend the completion date to August 1894. At the same time the clause in the 1888 Act concerning motive power was amended to make possible the use of electricity on the tramroad.

The Agreement scheduled to the earlier Act was also modified so that all Earl Temple's stock holding would be purchased by the Company when £50,000 of capital had been raised but the Brill Brickworks siding would nevertheless remain his property.

The next action required by Earl Temple was the reconstruction of the old Tramway to sound standards. Finance for the work was arranged by the Company by the issue of £11,000 of bonds from a bank and in October 1893 estimates were obtained for the works. There was no delay in evaluating the tenders and contracts were let in February 1894. Progress was rapid. Rolled steel flat bottom rail, 50 lb. a yard in 30 ft. lengths was laid on cross sleepers bedded on gravel ballast. Station plans for Brill, Wotton, Westcott and Waddesdon were approved. Level crossing arrangements at public roads were agreed with the Bucks County Council. On 19th October the Board of Trade inspection took place of the completed works and six days later a favourable report was issued. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Railway, having reached Aylesbury in September 1892, started to operate the former A & B R service through Quainton Road in 1894 and they began the reconstruction of the station to its present site. A new platform for the Tramroad was built with cross platform facilities for passengers and luggage and the goods yard was laid out within the curve from the main line to the tramroad.

On Monday, 15th October, 1894, the Oxford & Aylesbury Tramroad Company took over the working of the Wotton Tramroad and an agreement was signed on 22nd November whereby :-

  1. The O & AT would supply, within six months, the rolling stock.
  2. Parliamentary Powers would be obtained for the level crossings (which they never did!)

It must be noted that the O & AT took over the working of the line but they did not acquire the freehold of the land. A large part of the land had been left to Baroness Kinless, the Duke's daughter, on his death in 1889 but Earl Temple had subsequently bought it and apart from some land at Quainton owned by the Winwood Charity he was the sole landlord. The Earl rented the land to the O & AT Company for £400 a year and the Winwood Charity benefited by £12 a year. The other section of line which was not owned by the Company was the Kingswood Lane or Moat Farm branch from Church Siding. This was rented by the Company and it was also relaid to an improved standard.

Throughout these busy years of the early 'nineties Mr R A Jones, who had been appointed General Manager by the Duke in 1872, remained at the helm of the O & AT Company and he was appointed to their Board. On completion of the reconstruction he introduced a new timetable; three trains each way taking only 47 minutes from Quainton to Brill in place of the old service of two trains daily taking 1 hour and 45 minutes for the same journey! It wasn't only better track which made this possible. The real reason was the retirement of the Aveling & Porter locomotives and their replacement with some sprightly little 0-6-0ST's.

1 - Now at the Leeds Industrial Museum

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1975 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 9 - The Ten Eventful Years to 1899 - Quainton News No. 26 - Winter 1975

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 04 November 2017