Welford Park Station
was approximately the half-way point on the joumey to and
from Newbury. Named after the nearby private estate
of Welford Park, the station served the villages of Welford,
Wickham and Weston. Although the traffic handled here was
quite sparse, the station itself was unique by way of the
fact that it was home to the only crossing place on the line.
Consequently, it was the only station on the line that required
both an 'up' and a 'down' platform. Despite its obvious
importance to the daily running operations of the railway
it was one of the quieter stations,
although traffic did increase after the airbase spur was opened
in 1954. The
roots of The Lambourn Valley railway are firmly embedded here
by virtue of the fact that Welford Park estate was the ancestral
home of one
George Branston Eyre. Who later changed his name to Archer-Houblon,
This local entrepreneur as we now know, was the instigator
and subsequent Chairman of the original, Independant LVR Company.
The station was reconstructed by the GWR in late 1908, and
this view dates from around 1920. Corrugated iron pagoda waiting
sheds were provided on each platform and a speed limit of
15 m.p.h was active through the approaches to the 'down' loop.
The point rodding incorporated a 'dog-leg' to enable it to
clear the 'up' platform. This
feature also doubled as an expansion bracket for the metal.
1940's and Signalman Vince Martin poses for the camera outside
the signal box. The station nameplate has been painted over
as part of wartime security measures, and in accordance with
blackout regulations the lamp posts have been overpainted
in white. Primarily the water supply to the station was ferried
in from Lambourn by train, but in 1954 mains supplied water
was available for the first time by connecting into the pipeline
previously laid by the military line contractors in 1952.
Given the fact that the nearby airbase had been established
during the course of World War II, Welford saw no major rise
in goods traffic.
however, didn't stay totally static. The movement of additional
livestock, plus the odd wagon load of supplies for the camp,
did provide some increase.
In 1942, the decision was made to construct a concrete loading
dock. This would ease the loading and unloading of goods and
livestock between rail and road vehicles.
It was to be built into the end of the 'down' platform and
the work would be carried out by the GWR
engineering department. The cost
came out at approximately £120.
April day in 1959 and the arrival of a Newbury train. The
cinder surface of the platform is clearly defined, as are
the Tilley lamp posts and associated winding gear. At the
Lambourn end of the platform, near the signal box, the ramps
were edged with concrete. The
signal box lever frame had itself been extended to
23 levers by this time. Situated immediately behind the pagoda
and on a slightly higher level, were the airbase exchange
sidings, constructed 7 years earlier in 1952.The crossing
loop could hold a locomotive and seven carraiges and measured
312 ft in length. The booking office and 'up' platform were
accessable via a boarded crossing at the end of the platform
Coal Merchant L.J.Bodman
& Sons continued their business operations from Welford
Park Station after closure of the Northern section of the
line in 1960. The station approach
road took the form of a junction connecting with the Newbury
to Lambourn Road. The road continued on past the the loading
dock on Lambourn end of the 'down' platform, and thus, provided
access to the goods yard and siding.
signal box was graded as Class 5 and the weekly pay rate for
a signalman here in 1934 was 51/9d ( £2.58p) per week
Duty times, varied over the years in accordance with differing
train services. Consequently there would be a number of times
in the year when the opportunity to earn extra money became
available for the signlman on early turn. This was in the
form of horse box cleaning over at Lambourn. On 6th October
1947 the coal fired stove used for heating the signal box
ignited the framework of the roof, resulting in severe damage
to the building. Repairs were subsequently carried out and
the box was restored to it's original design.
(Pictured below) Trains
crossing at Welford Park, early 1950's.
signal box and booking office, again in the early 1950's.
The cells for providing power to operate the signalling
equipment were stored
in a battery cabinet which was
fixed to the rear wall of the signal box. It is just visible
in the above picture. The two re-railing ramps would
have been used for minor wagon derailments and should, I am
told, have been stored within the signal box, but their sheer
weight made it impractical to do so.
1951 and an ex-MSWJR 2-4-0 awaits departure
clearence from the guard before continuing it's journey to
Lambourn. This photo also shows the vehicle loading dock at
the end of the down platform.
A Panoramic view from the down platform. The safety
fence on the platform ramp edge protected passengers
from the vehicle unloading dock.
mid fifties and members of the Branch Line Society pay
a visit to the station on-board a, hired for the day,
early type GWR bufferless railcar.
hauled goods train bound for
Welford Military Base
year is 1950 and A single unit railcar bound for
Newbury arrives quietly at the station.
The signal box
and station from the north with the duty signalman looking
downline. The lamp at the end of the platform provided, light
to illuminate both the board crossing and the tablet
exchanges, the station re-railing ramps still lean nonchalantly
against the front planking.
Bert Whale inside Welford Park signal box.
The Signalmen shared the responsibility for the general cleaning
of the station and the internal appearance of the box itself.
The Quiet nature of the line resulted in the added advantage
of allowing staff to enjoy unofficial activities during their
hours of duty. Such as the yearly crop of Welford tomatoes
grown in front of the frame. Throughout the 1930s signalman
worked a two shift system, The first being 0500 hrs to 1400
hrs. and the second covering 1300 hrs through until
2100 hrs. The overlapping hour was used to carry out any work
in the yard such as the roping and sheeting of wagons where
neccessary, or just normal cleaning duties.
from Newbury market days, passenger receipts were minimal.
Goods traffic however continued to provide returns for the
branch. Small quantities of coal were handled, usually for
Messrs. Brain who used the yard as a railhead for the surrounding
area. Racehorse traffic was non-existant and in the final
years Little or no milk was forwarded from the station, the
main income being the conveyance of watercress grown in the
nearby river Lambourn, agricultural commodities and small
amounts of timber.
Park Station closed to passengers on the 4th of January 1960.
Goods traffic continued on the line for a few more years,
until 1965 in fact, when Boxford lost all its freight facilities.
Six months later, on the 19th of July, Welford Park had its
non-military services withdrawn. military use
of the line ceased on the 3rd of November 1973
and control of the line was returned from the USAF
to British Railways.