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stationheading
The Lambourn Valley Railway
Stations & Crossings
West Fields
 
Newbury West Fields was part of an expansion programme which saw many similar types of halt being erected on other areas of the Great Western Railway, all with the intention of increasing patronage by means of the new railmotors. 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
West Fields was in keeping with many of the other stations, and consisted of a solitary platform situated on the eastern side of the line. Shelter was provided by the GWR's 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 Taylor's 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 Road).
 

A standard GWR 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 achieved 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 tank with a Lambourn-bound train. The single vehicle is an auto coach, although auto-working was never used on the line as additional coaches or wagons were often coupled to the back of the trains.
photo : unknown
At the time of opening only a low, nine-inch high 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, 16 boarding the train and 17 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 West Fields for the whole of 1952 amounted to £17. 5s. 7d (approx £17.28). The halt's estimated maintenance costs during a 12 month period was £30 so, in a effort to save revenue, it was suggested the station be kept open but given no maintenance until the shelter became due for renewal. At this point in time, the shelter was considered to have a further five years of life. Consequently, 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

 

A short distance north of West Fields, 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
Above left: One of two three-car DMU sets captured passing over the Kennet & Avon Canal bridge during the Lambourn Valley Farewell day on 3rd November 1975.

Above right: A view, taken in May 1973, from that same bridge, looking north towards Speen.
 
Speen Cutting
 

Right: The embankment Between Westfields 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.

photo : unknown
 
From here the line skirted Benham Park, offering the traveller glorious views from the carriage window. These views were short-lived as the line then entered Speen cutting, which became notorious for land slips over the years. It was a deep dark cutting made even gloomier by the tall conifer trees high above.

The cutting was the site 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.
photo : unknown
 
Above: A diesel railcar rumbles through Speen cutting.

 

 

 

photo : Pearson Collection
Above: The Speen Lane arch immediately after construction with the A4 arch in the background.
Below: The same tunnel bridge photographed towards the end of the 1950s. 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 of C Marshall
Above left: Railcar no. 18 trundles through Speen cutting on its way to Lambourn.

Above right: 
A lonely figure walkes the line towards Newbury. The bridge in the background carries the A4 Bath Road.

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