of the Line.
|Some important dates relating to the Newport Pagnell Branch Railway
1817 - Newport Branch of Grand Junction Canal cut from Great Linford. There were seven locks in the length of the branch. Click to see canal workers.
1838 - Until this date and the opening of the London and Birmingham Railway, no less than 188 road services passed
through the town every week. (This is the traffic which must have encouraged the building of the Tickford Iron Bridge in 1810, and the many inns which catered for the travellers). After the opening of he London and Birmingham
Railway, this traffic declined to approximately 30 per week. So even before the Newport Branch Railway opened, road traffic through Newport was falling. We could draw a parallel with this and the opening of the M1 in 1959
1845 - First proposals for the building of a line from Bletchley to Newport Pagnell, Olney and Welilingborough, ignoring Wolverton. The venture failed to attract sufficient capital.
1846 - Proposal to build a line from Wolverton to Newport Pagnell, thence south to join the Bletchley to Bedford line at Ridgmont. This received the 'thumbs down' from the Duke of Bedford. He called it, "that useless railway." Not surprisingly, this also failed to attract investors
1863 - The Wolverton to Newport Pagnell line receives the Royal Assent. When the news reached Newport Pagnell, church bells were rung in celebration!
1864 Closure of the Newport Branch Canal, subsequent to its purchase by the London and North Western Railway
Company. It has often been said that the railway was built on the line of the old canal, but this was not so. The canal had to follow the contours except where locked, but the railway line was relatively straight, as a walk along the Redway path which follows the old track will show. Such a course was unlikely in any case, considering the large amount of soil which would have to have been moved. Even the railway sidings were not on the site of the canal basin, which was in what is now a spinney behind Park Ave.
1865 - Powers to extend the line to Olney granted, with a further extension to join the Northampton-Peterborough line at Wellingborough.
1865/66 - Construction of Wolverton-Newport link.
1866 - Line opened for goods traffic only. The line brought with it a great many changes. Population growth in New Bradwell & Wolverton was rapid and enormous. Wolverton's population rose from 335 before the Railway Works was established there, to 1,600 in 1851, and New Bradwell had a population of 2,400 by 1871, four years after the line opened. In contrast, Newport's population rose from 3,750 in 1851 to 3,800 in 1891, apparently being unaffected by the Wolverton works development.
1867 - Line cleared for passenger traffic. Stations at Great Linford and New Bradwell. There was again a great ceremonial opening, with church bells and a Union flag flown from the church tower. The streets were decorated, and the front of the 'Swan Revived' hotel bore a large illuminated star, and the Prince of Wales' Feathers. (Why these two items is unknown - perhaps they were left over from a previous celebration, or acquired cheaply!)
1871 - Powers granted to abandon the Newport Pagnell-Olney link, although by this time a bridge had already been built across the Wolverton Road, close to where the Fire Station now stands. Later the bridge was demolished and bricks used to build nearby cottages. Certain earthworks along the proposed route had already been carried out, and the remains of these are still visible. (A small cutting half-way across Bury Field, and a little piece of unfinished embankment where Bury Field leads into Bury Meadow)
1872 - Olney linked into the Bedford-Northampton line, thus further reducing the reasons for extending theNewport line.
1875 - Newport-Wolverton line taken over officially by the LNWR.
1876 - Proposal to construct a Steam Tram line between Newport Pagnell, Sherington, Emberton & Olney. This was sabotaged by an un-cooperative landowner at Emberton who refused to allow the purchase of the required land. The line would have run from Newport to the Castle pub at Olney, and would have been the standard rail guage of 4' 8.5". (Another factor which wasn't mentioned as a reason for the abandoning of the project may have been the tremendous cost of providing a cutting through Sherington hill, and a subsequent viaduct across the River Ouse at the entrance to Olney).
1898 - The country's first motor bus service was instituted between Newport Pagnell & Olney.
Although its chief regular passengers were employees of the Railway Works at Wolverton, another group were the
Further reading: A new book by railway author Bill Simpson has just been published.
This chronology has been reproduced by permission of the Newport Pagnell Historical Society