WESTFIELDS
Newbury "Westfields" was part of an expansion programme which saw many similar types of halt being erected on other areas of the Great Western. All with the intention of increasing patronage by means of the new style rail motors. The report from the Board of Trade inspection at the opening of the halt describes it as:- equipped with lamps, nameboard and shelter, sanctioned for use for rail motor traffic.
photo : British Railways
photo : D.W Winkworth
It was in keeping with many of the other stations, and consisted of a solitary platform situated on the eastern side of the line. The shelter provided was the traditional pagoda style hut. Supplied by S. Taylor & Co. of Birmingham, this building differed from the others as it was built of concrete instead of the usual, iron costruction. It was described as being constructed of their patent universal roof covering and building material. Access to the platform could be gained from either end, via a pathway leading from the ramp at the Lambourn end to a small gate, opening onto Gloucester Road, (now Clifton Rd).
A standard GW trespass notice was also erected by this gate. At the Newbury end, a similar path led to a larger gate opening onto Craven Road. There was also a crossing point, which allowed tenants access to several garden allotments which were situated directly opposite the platform. Lighting of the standard height platform was acheived by the use of gas lamps, the only ones on the line.  These were fed from a supply pipe running through a meter on the far side of the shelter.
photo : D.W Winkworth
photo : J Smith photo : J Smith
(above right) an 0-6-0 pannier with a Lambourn train,
the single vehicle is an auto coach although auto-working was never used on the line.
photo : unknown
At the time of opening only a low nine inch platform was provided in line with all of the other stations. However, not long afterwards it was rebuilt to the standard height, using sleepers topped with a cinder surface. A work study carried out at the station for the week ending 11th October 1952 revealed that just 33 passengers had used the halt that week. Sixteen boarding the train and seventeen leaving it. Looking at it logically it would be fairly safe to assume these were the same persons going to work in the morning and returning home in the evening.
 
photo : R.M Casserley
Total receipts from Westfields for the whole of that year amounted to £17. 5s. 7d--( approx £17.28p)
The estimated maintenance costs for the halt during a twelve month period was £30 so in a effort to save revenue it was suggested the station be kept open, but administered no maintenance until the shelter, became due for renewal. At this point in time, the shelter was considered to have a further 5 years of life, subsequently, in February 1957, the halt was finally closed and by June of that year, both nameboard and shelter had been removed.
 

photo : J Smith

photo : R Carpenter

photo : J Smith

photo : J.E Kite
Just prior to the introduction of the Diesel railcar, an '850' class engine, number 2007 aproaches Westfields Halt with a Lambourn train (June 1936). Above left on it's return journey

 

A short distance north of Westfields the line straightened out onto an embankment after first crossing a fairly substantial elongated girder bridge. The Newbury firm of Plenty & Co., supplied the iron work for this particular bridge which spanned the River Kennet, its tributaries, and the Kennet & Avon Canal. All other bridging work on the line was carried out by Finch & Co. of Chepstow.
photo : Pearson Collection

Photo: David Cooper

Photo: David  Cooper
One of two - three car DMU sets captured passing over the Kennet & Avon Canal bridge during the Lambourn Valley Farewell day on November the 3rd 1975.. (Above right) ~ A view from that same bridge, looking north towards Speen taken in May 1973.



Speen Cutting

Pictured right, the embankment Between West Fields and Speen. This view, taken in June 1957, looks back over the Kennet bridge towards Newbury. It was near this point that an unfortunate fatal accident occurred during the first week of the line opening, when two young boys were struck by a passing train and subsequently died in hospital. From here the line skirted Benham Park, offering the traveller glorious views from the carriage window. These views were short lived as the line entered a deep dark cutting made even gloomier by the existance of tall conifer trees high above.
This was Speen cutting, notorious for land slips over the years.

photo : unknown
photo : unknown
 
A Railcar passing through Speen Cutting

 

 

( right) The Speen Lane arch immediately after construction with the A4 arch in the background.

 

 

 

photo : Pearson Collection
The cutting was the home of two brick arches, or tunnel bridges, one carrying the Newbury-Speen road, and the other, the main A4 to the west. Even as early as 1898, there was serious concern regarding earth slips and drainage problems with the cutting sides. Soakaways were constructed to provide channels to carry rainwater down to the cess at track level. Much of the ballast used was extracted from a working at the nearby station of Boxford.
Below - The same tunnel bridge photographed towards the end of the 1950's. With the banks and foliage now fully established, this shot typifies everyone's preconception of the quintessential, rural, English branch line.
photo : R.M Casserley

photo : Unknown

photo : courtesy off C Marshall
Railcar no. 18 in speen cutting heading for Lambourn and a lonely figure walking the line towards Newbury.
(above right) ~ The bridge in the back ground carried the Bath Road (A4).