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The Lambourn Valley Railway
Stations & Crossings
Lambourn 1898-1939
Photo : British Railways Photo : British Railways
On 31st March 1898, the Board of Trade inspection of The Lambourn Valley Railway took place. The inspecting officer Col Yorke declared that, subject to a speed limit of 25 miles an hour and axle loadings not exceeding 8 tons, opening of the railway was approved. The private opening was set for Saturday 2nd April 1898 and the full public opening for the following Monday 4th April.
Photo : British Railways Photo : British Railways
Lambourn station on the day of opening showing the original timber water tank and the lightly laid trackwork. Track construction was used flat bottom rail spiked directly to the sleepers and then ballasted over. The first public service train into Lambourn hauled four Brown Marshall coaches that were purchased by the company chairman.
Photo : British Railways Photo : Unknown
South Berkshire MP Mr. G Mount was aboard. His duty was to open the line officially on arrival at the terminus, and both he and Mr Gipps made the journey on the footplate along with the driver and fireman. Just 37 minutes after leaving Newbury, the train arrived in Lambourn, welcomed by a celebratory peal of bells from the parish church and music from a local brass band. Two further trips were made that day, each carrying around 80 fare-paying passengers.

Photo : Unknown
Above: Lambourn in 1898. With thanks to Kevin Robertson

Above: The original LVR Company track plan at Lambourn, which would change once the Great Western Railway took over...

The Lambourn Valley Railway Company ran as an independent company from 4th April 1898 until it was taken over by the Great Western Railway Company on 1st July 1905.

Photo  :  A Attewell
Above: Access to the station was - appropriately enough - via Station Road through a 15' 6" single span gate. The rear of the station building was supported on brick arches while the steeply graded bank to the rear of the platform was inlaid with granite blocks for support.

The new owner now had control over 12 miles of cheaply built line, so the first job would be to bring it up to the GWR's exacting standards. Within two or three months, the line was relaid with pre-used material from GWR stock. The communication system was improved with the installation of two-way telephones linking Newbury to all the manned stations along the length of the line. Lambourn Terminus also underwent a transformation during this extensive upgrading.

Photo: British Railways

Above: One of the first things the GWR did was to rebuild the station using a typical GWR template. This image is the official photograph of the new building, taken in 1910. The platform to the left of the building was visibly strengthened to take the weight of vehicles, because the only way lorries could load/unload directly onto passenger trains was via the platform ramp.
Photo : LGRP Photo : Unknown

Above: By 1911, the track at Lambourn had been upgraded fairly substantially, with a longer run-round loop, a longer headshunt beyond the platform, and an extra loop which allowed goods wagons to be parked without obstructing the loop.

By the 1920s, road transport was starting to affect the railway companies quite noticeably and in an effort to compete with the private transport operators, Great Western acquired a large fleet of its own road vehicles. Great Western's very first local bus service was inaugurated on 17th August 1925 and ran from Swindon to Lambourn, travelling via Stratton Park, Wanborough and Aldbourne. A second Swindon service was introduced on 26th July 1926 passing through Ashbury, Wanborough and Coate. This particular route lasted just three years, and was withdrawn on 6th July 1929.
Photo : G Allen Collection Photo : G Allen Collection

Above: This view shows the staff with one of the Thorneycroft buses used on the Swindon to Lambourn service. The bus is parked on the station platform which was its defined arrival and departure point.

Left: Signalman Bert Allen with his dog outside the signal box.

Photo : Unknown Photo  : G Allen Collection
Photo: J. Smith Photo : Photomatic
Above: Two almost identical views of 1901 saddle-tank loco class 2007 as the crew prepares for a somewhat uncomfortably cold and draughty journey back to Newbury Station. The photos would have been taken in or around 1934.
Photo : Fox Photos Photo : Fox Photos
Photo : Fox Photos Photo : T.B Sands
Lambourn has long been well-known for its connection with horse racing. Race specials were a common occurrence on the line especially throughout the 15 years between 1920 and 1935, a time when race traffic was at its pinnacle. Several of the Lambourn trainers had private horse boxes with their names sign-written on either side. These boxes were usually Paco 'A's which were dual-fitted for for working to Redcar or Newcastle over LNER tracks, where Westinghouse braking was a required commodity.
Photo : P.J Garland Photo : R.S Carpenter Collection
Photo : Dr.Ian C Allen Photo :  S.W Baker

Below: The Lambourn signal box dated from the new GWR station around 1910, to an 1890s design. It was 17-ft by 10-ft, excluding the porch. The gate provided access to a row of cottages on the other side of the line, access being gained via the occupation crossing just visible on the right of this image. The lamp, built to facilitate single-line token handovers, probably disappeared around 1938 when the GWR tweaked the track plan, and removed the siding behind the signal box.
Photo : Geoffrey Allen Collection
Photo: Geoffrey Allen Collection

Photo : J.H MossPhoto J.H.Moss
Photo : A Attewell Photo : British Railways
The signalman's comforts included a stove, cupboards, desk and chair. The business end of the box contained a stud locking frame with 20 levers at five-inch centres. This view taken in 1938 also shows nine spares (painted white). Other signalling equipment included a No. 9 token instrument for the section of line to Welford; it replaced the earlier tablet instrument. Such a simple box was for many years classified 6 in the GWR grading system, Class 1 being the highest.
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