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Banbury station

A compilation of historical material. All the illustrations are in chronological order so that additions, rather than being tagged on the end, will be inserted where they belong. It helps show developments over time and the narrative in the descriptions.

In time this will grow into a historical account and hopefully set the record straight vis a vis some awfully inaccurate stuff currently on the net about Banbury and its traffic. The cross-country trains that used the Banbury Branch to Woodford & Hinton (Woodford Halse from 1947) and the GCR's London Extension have already been covered in "LNER Passenger Trains and Formations, The Principal Services", pages 98-119: Aberdeen-Penzance, Glasgow-Southampton, Newcastle-Bourneouth, Newcastle-Barry (all SuX), and Sheffield-Swansea (SuO).

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An engraving made c.1854, four years after construction of the GWR station. The goods shed is to the right and, to the left, the LNWR station, "Merton St.". Note how all the end panels on the roof are glazed, and that there is no gap along the top for smoke to escape; these seem to have been later modifications.

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Banbury station

The wooden station at Banbury sees 4-4-0 No 3821 County of Bedford passing through with a Down coal train, probably empties, c1930. The actual date is unknown although the class became extinct in 1933. This picture is occasionally captioned as No 3822 County of Brecon but it's definitely No 3821. Photo: M.Green collection.

Banbury station

Banbury station on a dank day in 1932, looking from north to south. On the far left a fraction can be seen of a cattle truck, probably related to Banbury's cattle market, once the largest in the country. Beyond it stand at least ten coal trucks by the coal yard. Up against the buffers in the bay platform there is a GWR "Cordon" gas cylinders wagon, used for carriage lighting.

The station building is in its final pre-WWII form with the glazed ends covered in smoke. In the distance but barely visible is the goods shed and Banbury South signal box.

Gas lights on the platforms stand proud while, in the two-road bay to the right, three covered wagons can be seen including an ex-NER Horse Box and a GWR one. Empty milk churns, small and large stand on either side awaiting collection by the farmers. Photo: LGRP

A soft copy, alas, from the Mowat Collection, but useful for a general view in 1933 and quite a busy scene. Merton Street is on the left and a raft of cattle trucks, some sheeted over, which are being shunted. At the far platform, actually the goods platform, assorted stock includes a Dean clerestory bogie van, headed by a 4-4-0, probably a station pilot. Taken on Saturday, 27th May 1933.

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This view from the late 1930s is not as sharp as it could be because it has been copied, from what may have been a Dufaycolor slide judging by the diagonal texture. The scene is Banbury General (GWR) with the roof of Merton Street (LMS) station visible on the left, next to which lay Banbury's cattle market, at one time the largest in Europe. The station is as reshaped by the GWR with the platforms used for the "Banbury Motor" from Woodford Halse. Standing in the North Bay is Woodford Halse's Ex-GCR B5 "fish engine" 4-6-0 No 6071 with a 5-coach GWR excursion which comprises Collett panelled stock and a recently refurbished Dean clerestory.

In the foreground is the triangular goods plaftform, against which an autocoach, used for services to Hook Norton and to Princes Risborough, has been parked. An empty cattle truck awaits loading. Many more cattle trucks are in the sidings in the distance, the nearest being empties: GWR, LMS, LNER, SR (ex-LSWR), GWR, GWR, SR, SR, LMS. The manually braked trucks were common user so the mixture of types was quite normal.

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Post-War decrepitude

The GWR had planned to modernise the station in the late 1930s but the War intervened, and the delay did not help, especially as BR delayed even further: not until 1956 was a full solution implemented.

On a sunny day in "1945" (but to my eye, earlier) looking across from the goods platforms at the south end of the station, the view is remarkably ramshackle, as if the Luftwaffe had paid a visit. Both ends of the roof were beginning to sag over the tracks, worst at the south end which had had two more glazed panels taken out, possibly to reduce the load.

An autocoach is parked in the bay with what may be a stores van against the buffers. Photo: R.S. Carpenter.

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Banbury station

In this view from 1945, a fortnight after the end of the War, the station roof is beginning to disintegrate with part of the timbering looking likely to fall at any moment.

GWR small Pannier tank No 5404 is at Platform No 3 with the push & pull service to Princes Risborough. In the south bay stands a GWR "Cordon" wagon with gas for coach lighting. Photo: RE Tustin.

Banbury station

Nationalisation of 1948 has passed and the loco is carrying its BR number on the smokebox door, No 1458, as it arrives with a mid-afternoon push & pull service.

The new name "Banbury General" - required by BR in order to distinguish it from the ex-LNWR station, "Banbury Merton Street" - wasn't applied until sometime in 1949, which suggests a date of around 1948-49. The somewhat dilapidated notice states "Change here for the Banbury and Cheltenham Line". The timbering that looked about to fall off the roof in the previous picture has gone and the general appearance to a modern eye is quite shocking. Photo: Milepost 92 1/2

Banbury station

By 1950, although barely visible in this view, the new name "Banbury General" had been posted by attaching the second word in slightly smaller letters below the name of the town. Both it and the Cheltenham line board were smartened-up in the process.

To the right, in platform 4, stand several secondary carriages still in GWR chocolate & cream livery. The nearest one, however, shines in recently applied BR crimson livery with lining at the waist. Photo: LGRP

Banbury 4083

Wolverhampton's "Castle" No 4083 Abbotsbury Castle waits at Banbury with a Down express while station pilot No 5967 Bickmarsh Hall stands in the bay. The revised station nameboard is shown in the next view. The date is around 1950-52. Photo: R.K.Blencowe Collection.

Banbury nameboard

A closer view of the nameboard is revealing for the principal, GWR text has been re-used on the name board but the additional word "GENERAL" has been painted on. Photo: R.K.Blencowe Collection.

Banbury N end

A scene from c1950 and the approach road across the River Cherwell shows a rather dingy Banbury station and its wooden roof. A "Grange" has a parcels train while a horse box stands in the goods bay

Above the ex-GWR coach on the far left, it is possible to see Banbury Merton Street station buildings. A magnifying glass shows its train shed is complete. Photo: Milepost 92 1/2 Picture Library

At the south end of the station in 1952, looking across the Up main and bay platform with an ex-GWR cast iron lamp still declaring simply "BANBURY", parcels await collection from various station barrows.

In the background there is a glimpse of the goods yard with an ex-LNER 6-plank open with repaired planks, but sagging on its wooden solebars: judging by the axleboxes, it was ex-GCR and it's been loaded with a container lettered "BRITISH RAILWAYS". The 8-plank mineral wagon beyond is an ex-Privately Owned wagon, its number prefixed by "P". Only a few shadows remain of its previous owner and even the white-painted diagonal strapping is barely visible. I wish that the print was sharper so that I could read all the numbers on these wagons!

In the middle distance are the stables and, peeking out, a glimpse of Merton Street station's train shed stripped to the bare girders (this station will be covered separately). Photo: Patrick Kingston.

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The intermediate phase

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It's 1951 and the old station roof has been demolished. New GWR-style awnings/canopies have been erected. The footbridge was retained and is still in its original condition. The train is probably a Newcastle-Bournemouth in which the trailing brake-end has been replaced by a Gresley BTK (to D.40/A), Photo: Patrick Kingston collection.

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Another view from 1951, on a fine sunny day with a scruffy 5996 Mytton Hall (OOC) and a down express made up with ex-GWR carriages. The station, with its new awnings and as-yet uncovered footbridge is really quite charming. Photo: Gordon Coltas.

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Banbury station 9425

The year is 1952 and the footbridge been granted a cover, at least above the wait. Pannier tank No 9425 is running through from the north. Photo: Patrick Kingston

Banbury station interior

Another view from 1952 shows the awnings, light and airy (despite the darkening via the photographic process). The driver of an auto-train, propelled by Pannier tank No 5407, waits at the Down platform, listing noticeably as passengers climb aboard. Photo: Patrick Kingston collection

Banbury station

A year later, 1953, sees the main building looking immaculate. I presume this would have been to the old GWR livery of dark brown and pale, salmon pink. A fellow photographer poses with his own camera round his neck. Photo: Postcard by C.B.Swallow Banbury station

The station forecourt from the north side on 29th June 1955. Photo: G.F.Donglas.

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Taken into the light, sloping badly and quite a mucky print too, an hour's fixing has made it at least worth closer scrutiny for this is the station on Tuesday 23rd August 1955, the year before complete rebuilding began. In the distance stand the compact station buildings, awnings and covered footbridge.

On the far right stands the station pilot, A "Hall" with lamps over each buffer. In between ex-LNER Thompson L1 2-6-4T No 67789 is waiting with a train over the Banbury Branch to Woodford Halse. The carriages are gangwayed 61'6" teak Gresleys in b&c livery: a composite brake and third (BCK,TK). Two spare carriages have been parked further back: a Thompson non-gangwayed 52'4" composite brake in BR crimson and a gangwayed 52'6" Gresley 3rd, still in varnished teak livery (BC,TK). Photo: F.A.Blencowe.

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The new station

Banbury station rebuild

Having removed the wooden roof, reconstruction began four years later in 1956 as this view from 21st October shows with the first buildings, where the ticket office would be placed, alongside the old one so that normal services could be maintained. Photo: F.A.Blencowe.

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The summer of 1957 saw rebuilding of the station complete and this picture, taken for the British Transport Commission (BTC), omits the forecourt proper in order to make the most of the futuristic lines of the new design over the platforms, aided by a late afternoon, slanting sun. This picture makes a good comparison with the one above when construction was in hand (but is out of sequence here because the name had been affixed; a picture lower down was taken a little earlier).

Technically, the photograph is quite a masterpiece in which the partially cloudy sly would have been brought out by using a yellow filter, and the contrast around the buildings enhanced when printing. There's a train in the station but it's almost invisible, "lost" in the deep shadows in favour of the building and its striking shapes. Photo: Author's collection.

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Another picture for the BTC is a general view of the new layout at the north end of the station, with a glimpse of the station forecourt and booking office through the trees.

In the back stands a line of cattle trucks for the cattle market (details will be added in the LNER Cattle Traffic topic) while, in the far distance, a plume of white steam looks like a spirited departure from Merton Street station. Photo: Author's collection.

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Banbury station c1957

The new station in the summer of 1957, soon after the buildings had been completed but before the name had been affixed on the building facing the car park and station approach. It was a dull day (otherwise the sun shines into the camera lens) and the far left, barely visible in the distant haze, a DMU is standing in the south bay. Nearer the camera, the "Hall" serving as station pilot is marshalling a train of three trucks and a goods brake van. In the other bay, what appears to be the stock for the Banbury Branch service to Woodford Halse, has been placed, comprising an ex-LMS BG, and two non-gangwayed carriages: ex-LMS and BR Mk.1, clear signs of the LMR having taken over that part of the GCR's London Extension. Photo: Lens of Sutton.

Banbury sta c1960

An almost identical view from 1959-60 shows the station buildings complete with "BANBURY STATION" on the wall facing the car park, in which a white mini-car (first produced in 1959) can be made out with a powerful magnifying glass). Photo: Mick Green collection.

Banbury sta 1960

This time, looking from the other side of the road bridge as No 6016 King Edward V" pauses with an evening Paddington-Birmingham train. A strengthener has been placed behind the tender, what looks like an elderly Collett 3rd, now 2nd of course. Passenger services will be covered separately. Note the bracket signal in all its earlier glory, and the water cranes. 19th April 1960. Photo: S.V.Blencowe collection.

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Another view into a bright sky, on 27th July 1963, sees ex-LMS "Black Five" No 45339 (Leicester) with ex-LMS Stanier carriages, possibly a three-coach train to Woodford Halse. In the goods yard, V2 No 60941 (York) is waiting to collect a cross-country express. For me the most pleasing part of the view is the lower quadrant signal, before it was reduced. Photo: F.A.Blencowe.

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Banbury 2893

It's stopped raining as ex-GWR 2-8-0 No 2893 drifts through the station on 5th June 1964 with a Down freight. The platform numbers can be seen, indicating No 2 for the north bay to the right, Nos 3 and 4 for the Down and Up main lines, respectively, and No 5 for north bay to the left. The two north bays were used for Banbury Branch services until closure of that line in 1966. Photo: R.K.Blencowe archive.

Banbury sta 34077

One of the crew climbs down from the tender of No 34077 603 Squadron after taking water in April 1966. The picture is shown as a reminder of the platform-mounted water cranes, and the post-mounted station clock on the left. A similar one was located at the south end of the station for the Up line, lasting into the 1980s. Photo: R.K.Blencowe archive.

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This picture of "Battle of Britain" No 34077 603 Squadron is also dated to April 1966 but nit, it seems, on the same day as the previous picture. The view is useful for showing part of the down signals and the station clock (it's 5.23pm). In the distance, several goods brake vans are parked near the hump in the marshalling yard. Photo: R.K. Blencowe Negative Archive.

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To be continued...

Banbury yards and freight pictures are here.

Banbury express passenger pictures are here.

Banbury loco shed pictures are here.

Banbury light engines are here.

Banbury signal box pictures are here.

Ardley-Greaves Siding limestone traffic pictures are here.

Banbury Merton Street station is here.

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