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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 41 - Summer 1980

The Wotton Tramway: Rise and Fall Part 15 - Branches and Sidings

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Photo: - K Jones Collection - Westcott Gas House and Siding

An interesting feature of the Tramway, not yet dealt with in this series of articles, is the branch and a number of special sidings connected to the main line of the railway between Quainton Road and Brill.

There were three of these long sidings or branches, viz:

1. The Waddesdon Manor Gasworks Siding from Westcott station.

2. The Kingswood Branch from Wotton, Church Siding.

3. The Brill Brickworks Siding from near Wood Siding.

First, the Gasworks Siding. This diverged at a facing connection for a train from the Quainton direction, just before entering Westcott station, and it then ran in a southerly course for about quarter of a mile. It terminated at the Gasworks, built to supply gas to Waddesdon Manor, and at the works there was a pair of sidings. By kind permission of Ken Jones, we are able to reproduce the photograph of the end of the siding and the private gasworks. The heaps of white material in front of the retort house building are lime for gas purification and the tower at the left side of the gas holder was the scrubber used for removing ammonia from the crude coal gas.

It is likely that the long siding was laid about 1880 to carry wagons of building materials, especially bricks and stone, for the construction of the Manor House (between 1880 and 1883), as well as for the gasworks itself. Gas making in those days required coal for carbonising in the retort house and lime for absorbing the sulphur compounds from the raw gas and these commodities would have provided the inwards traffic over the siding. In the other direction the by-products from gas manufacture, tar and liquor, would have generated most of the loadings, although some coke may have been taken out by rail. The gasworks closed about 1930- the railway siding from Westcott fell out of use well before that time.

The second line was, by far, the most significant, and was opened in November 1871 at the same time as the Tramway itself. This branch, called the Kingswood Branch, was over 1¾ miles long, from near Wotton, and its purpose was to serve the village and farms it passed on its way to the terminus, where there was a coal yard. Near the terminus there is said to have been a brick and tile works with its own siding off the branch, but this has not been traced on the ground.

Let us take an imaginary journey on the Kingswood Branch from Wotton. As we leave Wotton station on the main line to Brill, the track curves to the right through Navigation Spinney, parallel with the footpath. It then takes a reverse curve to the left until we reach Church Siding, the junction of the Kingswood Branch. The facing connection to Kingswood forms a 'V' with the Wotton Tramway and in the angle stands a 30ft high water tower.

The wagons for the branch are pulled forward by using a length of rope between the wagons for Brill and those to go to Kingswood. The locomotive draws slowly forward and the points are thrown over to divert those for Kingswood onto the right-hand track. Horse traction is then brought into use; the rope is coiled and replaced in front of the locomotive smokebox, and the separated trains make their individual ways to their termini.

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J R Fairman - Wotton Stables - 6th February 1980

Proceeding in a northerly direction, a stream is crossed by a timber bridge and then, after less than quarter of a mile, facing points on the left-side lead into the first siding. This serves Church Farm, Wotton Underwood. On the west side are the farm buildings, All Saints Church, the school and the Mission Hall.

The branch now continues north across unfenced arable land, with Wotton House (built to the same plan as Buckingham Palace - by Richard Grenville, in 1704) across the fields to the west. The fine avenue of trees paralleling the line northwards from the House is another feature of the view in this direction. About 1¼ miles from Church Siding we come to a second siding which serves Yeat Farm. This is also on the left-side and is at a point where the branch curves left in a north-westerly direction, to reach Kingswood terminus at right angles to Kingswood Lane. The property forming the yard premises has a frontage of about 100ft onto the fane and a depth of about 300ft. There are two sidings and a house stands at the entrance to the yard, which is some 200 yards east of the milepost on the lane, marked Buckingham 12, Brill 4 miles. In the other direction, ¾ mile away, is Kingswood crossroads on Akeman Street (now the A41[T] ).

The Kingswood Branch was relaid, probably with bridge section rail from the 1894 reconstruction. It was not taken over by the O & AT Company, but was rented to them for £1 p.a. The O & AT referred to the Branch in their rule book and rather surprisingly it was required that a staff, painted red, be carried by the man in charge of the horse. North of Church Farm, Wotton Underwood, traffic was abandoned, probably about 1910, much to the annoyance of Mr Cook who had the letting of the coal wharf at Kingswood. The track was lifted back to this point in 1915, leaving the truncated portion of the branch to serve the village, until closing in 1935 of the whole Brill system.

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J R Fairman - Kingswood Terminus - February 1980

Lastly, there was the siding serving the Brill Brick and Tile Works. This was only 150 yards long and was again a facing connection to the Tramway for trains proceeding towards Brill. It made the connection on the south side of the Tramway, nearly half a mile east of Wood Siding, where the Tramway was running north of the road in land flanked by Rushbeds Wood, half a mile from Brill terminus. A loop was laid on this strip of land before the single line siding crossed the road and entered the Works to terminate at a loading bank. This siding was also excluded from the O & AT Act and remained the property of Earl Temple. A length of light 501bs/yd flat bottomed rail was recovered from the siding about five years ago and is one of the Society's museum exhibits.

In common with the sidings at the stations at Waddesdon Road, Westcott, Wotton and Wood Siding, the points from the main line into Church Siding and the Brick Works Siding were worked from one lever ground frames locked by the Annetts key on the staff carried by the driver. The position of the points was indicated to the driver by a red disc and after dark by a lantern having red and green glasses.

There was one other short siding not at a station. This was at Thame Lodge, between Wotton, Church Siding and Wood Siding at the 'T' junction of the private driveway to Wotton House and the Wotton to Ludgershall road, near Lawn Farm. This siding was on the south side of the Tramway and made a trailing connection for trains travelling towards Brill.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1980 and so does not reflect events in the 30+ 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 15 - Branches and Sidings - Quainton News No. 41 - Summer 1980

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