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Banbury - Merton Street station

One of the first line histories that I ever read, and still view as one of the finest, was Bill Simpson's "The Banbury to Verney Junction Branch", OPC, 1978. All I can do here is offer some pictures from the post-WWII years that didn't make it into Bill's book. It was a period when Banbury General was tidied up and then remodelled and granted new buildings, concrete and brick replacing the very tired old wooden ones.

Merton Street was visibly a poor cousin, and losing money, so an attempt was made to spruce it up and provide a modern service with railcars. This was successful and income rose significantly but, alas, not enough on what was a minor country line to create an operating profit. The last trains ran on New Year's Eve, 31st December, 1960.

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A fine view of the station approach with the buildings freshly repainted and no doubt whatsoever about their purpose! Most of the station roof had its tiles removed, leaving only the concourse under cover. The vintage cars I have yet to identify... To the extreme right there's a glimpse of the southern approach to Banbury General. The two stations were very close. Photo: Mick Green collection.

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An undated picture from early BR days shows an elderly ex-Midland Railway, Deeley 3F with a single carriage that was pretty old too, an ex-LMS Period I panelled 3rd brake from the 1920s, after arrival. I suspect that this may have been an off-peak service in which the higher class of passenger was not catered for. Note the low height of the platform - it required a certain athleticism to get on and off the trains!

Banbury gas works looms in the distance while the station signal box is just visible. Photo: R.K. Blencowe Negative Archive.

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The scene from the early 1950s, looking down the platform at Banbury Merton Street station. The date is estimated via a companion picture of the station building which shows the condition between the complete roof in 1950 and partly stripped in 1956. The cattle market, once the largest in Europe, was immediately to the left and two strings of empty cattle wagons can be seen, 36 altogether. The cattle dock was immediately behind the siding on the left, to which small batches of empty wagons were drawn off, loaded, and made up into trains. A station pilot would have been provided on the day, generally a Thursday. The composition of the cattle trucks is discussed under the modelling topic "LNER cattle truck"

In the distance by the station throat stands the signal box and, all told, quite a lot of rolling stock, including around fifteen steel hopper wagons which were used to deliver coal to the gasworks, and take away the coke. Both the LMS and BR had built similar designs for the purpose. At the time, both old and new gasholders were still standing.

On the far right there is a glimpse of the goods yard, a pi;e of hay, presumably for the cattle trucks, the 5 ton crane, and a corner of the goods shed (which had been rebuilt around 1938). Photo: Author's collection.

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Taken on a Monday, 4th April 1956, before the refurbishment, the station looks as run down as the BR Standard 2-6-4T, No 80081. This really was no advert for a railway or for a pleasant experience for travellers. The formation behind the loco, which had already run round its train, comprises three 57ft ex-LMS Period III non-gangwayed carriages:

BT
C
BT

The composite looks different because the ventilator bonnets over the doors had been removed (they were prone to corrosion).

An unidentified vehicle stands against the buffers on the other platform face while, to the right, cattle trucks (ex-SR and ex-LMS) stand in between the station and Banbury Cattle Market, once the largest in Europe. Photo: F.A. Blencowe.

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A fine sunny day and admiring looks greet arrival of one of the Derby Motor Brake Seconds, M79901 for the new improved service on its inception. The whole scene looks smart, despite the uneven wooden platform. Note the steps for the passengers; clumsy perhaps, but a helpful move in the right direction. Saturday 18th August 1956. Photo: W.A. Camwell, SLS.

PS - The station clock came up at auction around 2010, and fetched £3,000.

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A month later and both of the unique units stand together on another Saturday, 15th September 1956. Only a pity that used sleepers have been dumped on the platform, spoiling the best intentions of other departments trying to put on a brave new face. Photo: J.J. Davis.

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After a sprint in the car down the country lanes, M79901 and M79900 were captured between at Buckingham. Quite why Merton Street never got a proper platform and was almost entirely a wooden station makes one wonder if the proximity of the public school at Buckingham was a factor? The platform was just as low, however. Photo: J.J. Davis.

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Three years later, the station still looks smart, if resembling a greenhouse. A single Derby railcar awaits passengers. Loadings at peak periods were good, but off-peak, the railcars were nearly empty, which was no surprise really as such traffic was generally to bigger stations and cities - to Oxford, Birmingham and London, for example - to which there was no service.

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Banbury north

Revised caption - Seen on 22nd August 1975, building work beyond Merton St. station, looking towards the cattle market with Merton St. curving off to the left, and Alma Terrace crossing to the right. The building in the foreground may have been stables; if anybody can confirm this, please get in touch! Photo: Gulliver Collection.

Banbury station pictures are here.

Banbury yards and freight pictures are here.

Banbury express passenger pictures are here.

Banbury loco shed pictures are here.

Banbury loco shed pictures are here.

Banbury light engine movements.

Ardley-Greaves Siding limestone traffic pictures are here.

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