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Quainton News archive - Quainton News No. 34 - Spring 1978

The Wotton Tramway: Rise and Fall Part 11 - The Metropolitan Railway Arrives

Although we have studied 'The Ten Eventful Years to 1899' in Part 9, (Quainton News, Winter 1975), and we considered in Part 10, (Spring 1976), the role of the Manning, Wardle 0-6-0ST's, in providing more adequate motive power than the old Aveling & Porter geared engines for working the improved services from 1894, we must now examine the situation leading up to the arrangements made in 1899 for the Tramway to be operated by the Metropolitan Railway.

Firstly, we should remind ourselves that it was the Metropolitan Railway which reconstructed Quainton Road station in 1896 and provided an improved connection to the tramway. The old Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway station of 1868 situated north of the level crossing was swept away and the station buildings we know today were opened to traffic. Similar buildings were erected at the other A & BR stations between Aylesbury and Verney Junction and the rather interesting design of store room we now use at Quainton as our Sales Shop was repeated at Waddesdon Manor (opened in 1897), Granborough Road and Winslow Road stations. The track was doubled throughout. The Metropolitan Railway had been extending their line towards Aylesbury for many years and they had reached Chalfont Road and opened the branch to Chesham in 1889. The acquisition of the A & BR was a logical step in the Company's expansion to the North and the purchase was made at a cost of £150,000, the vesting date being 1st July 1891.

Thus Quainton Road became a Metropolitan Railway station. Trains were still worked by Great Western Railway locomotives and stock for a short time but the London and North Western Railway took over the operation for the final three or more years, until January 1895, when the Metropolitan began to provide men and stock.

At Aylesbury the extension north from Rickmansworth, through Stoke Mandeville, was opened on 1st September 1892 to a temporary station south of the junction with the GWR and A & BR station. Sir Edward Watkin's dream of a through railway from Manchester to Dover and the Continent was coming true! When he sat with Sir Harry Verney at the celebratory luncheon at Aylesbury Town Hall on that September day his Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway Bill for the London extension had just been rejected by Parliament but it received the Royal Assent on 28th March 1893! Quainton Road was not only a station on the Metropolitan Railway but it was destined to be an important junction on a main line!

When the powers under the 1893 Act were obtained contracts for construction work were let and in October 1894 the 25 mile section between Charwelton and Quainton Road was awarded to Walter Scott & Co., of Newcastle-on-Tyne. They put in the junction north of the station where Quainton Road Junction signal box was erected to control the traffic onto the Verney Junction and the Extension lines. The level crossing was replaced by a brick three-arched bridge built a few yards north of the crossing and signalling at Quainton Road station was completely revised to conform with the revised layout. But this is another story! Suffice it to say that all was ready by July 1898 when coal trains started running from the north to London. Passenger services were inaugurated between Manchester and Marylebone on 15th March 1899.

While these momentous events had been taking place the Brill or Wotton Tramway continued to be worked by the Oxford & Aylesbury Tramroad Company administered by Earl Temple as the Company Chairman. He actually owned nearly all the land over which the Tramway operated. He owned the two new Manning, Wardle saddle tank engines, Brill No. 1 and Wotton No. 2 and the two bogie passenger carriages built in 1896 and a wagon were also his property. Earl Temple also owned £11,000 of Lloyd's bonds issued to the Tramway primarily to finance the 1894 reconstruction of the branch. Furthermore, the Earl had the benefit of twenty years of continuous experience of Mr R A Jones as his General Manager. Under the O & A T, Mr Jones was not only Manager but a Director. Indeed, from March 1895 to December 1896 he was Managing Director and from September 1899 he was also the Company Secretary.

It is not surprising to find Earl Temple interested and receptive to an approach from the Metropolitan Railway with proposals for purchasing the Tramway. On behalf of the freeholders and the Company the Earl conducted negotiations and drew up an agreement for the sale of the Tramroad for £20,000 and for the right of the Metropolitan Railway to acquire any additional land found necessary for doubling the track or for making new sidings and stations.

Pending Parliamentary approval for the purchase of the Tramway Company a letter dated 27th November 1899 from Mr John Bell, the manager of the Metropolitan Railway to Earl Temple set down the terms of the agreement and the temporary rent of £600 a year to be paid to the Tramway Company. This letter also stated that the Metropolitan Railway would maintain the line and the rolling stock during the temporary period and accepted responsibility for accident claims, loss or damage to goods, etc. From 1st December 1899 the Metropolitan Railway took over. Mr Jones continued as General Manager and Secretary and all other employees of the Tramway continued in service with their new employer, including the loco driver and fireman and the fitter at Brill. And for another forty years the Wotton Tramroad was operated on this temporary basis! The Metropolitan Railway never sought Parliamentary powers and the O & AT Co continued its independent existence until 1940!

Notwithstanding the temporary agreement for the operation, maintenance and legal aspects of the Tramroad, the Metropolitan proceeded to purchase the rolling stock . They paid £700 to the Company for the early 0-6-0ST, Wotton No. 1, (Manning Wardle No. 616) the original composite carriage, the horse tram, eight wagons, a horse, a van, a cart and sundry other items. They purchased for £2300 from Earl Temple his two Manning, Wardle 0-6-0ST's, his two bogie Bristol Carriage & Wagon Co passenger cars built in 1895 and the mineral wagon he owned. These locomotives and coaches were virtually new and were in good order unlike the Tramway Company's stock. The Metropolitan soon placed the original carriage off the rails as a store in Brill yard while the 16 seat horse tram and the eight old wagons were withdrawn form service and eventually sold for scrap in 1905.

Just before the take over the Tramway had hired a seven compartment rigid eight wheeled coach from the Metropolitan Railway which could seat 70 passengers in seven compartments. There was also a guards compartment which was not a feature of the Bristol cars which had to run with the original luggage-composite despite its advanced years. This was the reason for the hiring of the 3rd Brake and it was the reason for the disposal in 1900 of the two rather unusual end-verandah saloons acquired new only five years earlier. They were bought by the colliery owner and contractor, George Waddell, and used on the Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway in South Wales.

So the year 1900 dawned with the two saddle tanks working a service of four trains each way between Quainton Road and Brill with a Metropolitan rigid eight wheeler. Departures from Brill were at 8.10 am, 10.35 am, 3.5 pm, and 5.15 pm. The return journeys from Quainton Road were at 9.30 am, 12.15 pm, 4.15 pm, and 6.25 pm. The journey time was 35 to 40 minutes with scheduled stops at Waddesdon and Wotton and conditional stops by signal at Westcott and Wood Siding.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1978 and so does not reflect events in the 37+ 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 11 - The Metropolitan Railway Arrives - Quainton News No. 34 - Spring 1978

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 17 November 2017