View Full Version : Archived: 'For Here Once Ran Trains' Woodford Halse, Report 27/01/09

29-01-2009, 04:14 PM
Having recently explored the 'Dunton Bassett' Tunnel over the weekend I am currently exploring the Great Central Railway around the Northants/Leics area.

One of the biggest steam depot/marshalling yards of the GCR was at 'Woodford Halse'. Located in the wilds of Northamptonshire, this small village sprang into railway history when the GCR built its first major depot here.

The GCR was, at times, a busy route and the depot and yards at Woodford Halse were a hive of activity, but not busy enough to ensure survival when the Beeching Axe closures of the 1960s took place. It was originally hoped that the line south of Woodford Halse to Aylesbury would remain open. The Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway had already closed in April 1952 and, in September 1966, most of the GCR was closed, including all the lines converging on Woodford Halse.

All tracks and most railway buildings were cleared leaving behind a wasteland.

The population fell sharply, as many former railway workers and their families left the area, but new developments in later decades have increased it.

Where the GCR's line, depot and yards were sited is now a tree plantation and a small modern industrial estate. Woodford Halse is once again a quiet place where visitors may still see evidence of its railway past if you care to look carefully!

The area around where the depot was sited is once again starting to reveal its past! New housing is currently being built and with this going on, the foundations of the former depot are being uncovered. Regretfully they are just being uprooted by a jcb and being dumped in a big heap!

But wander further into the old marshalling yard site and walk a few miles out into the countryside and things are not quite what they seem:thumb

For here laying in the undergrowth of the tree plantation are survivors from that period when trains ruled and fast freight trains the 'Annesley Runners' came in from the North. Isolated from any main road the only access is on foot. History reveals itself:thumb


This was once the vast marshalling yards of 'Woodford Halse' the concrete plinth once mounted a signal for trains into the New yard! The signal box in the picture below was positioned just ahead of this plinth.


Woodford No.1 Signal box already abandoned! just before the line closed in 1966.


A lineside building tucked away in the corner of the plantation. How this has survived is any body's guess:confused:

Further up the yard and known as 'Charwelton Water Tower' but really nearer Woodford Halse is the old water tower that use to provide water for the water troughs that were situated in the middle of the main running lines, there function was to provide water to the tenders of express trains, the water was collected by a scoop that was lowered from the tenders as it passed the troughs.


Charwelton Water Tower still stands alone in its isolated position, awaiting trains that will never arrive.


Inside the machinery that powered the water tower is still in place. An underground well provided water that was pumped to the top of the tank.


The control for the main inlet valve still turns:thumb


Looking down the well head. Don't know how deep it is but the white dot in the picture is the water at the bottom! The piston rod to the pump is in the centre of the picture:thumb


A rusting spare valve lays on its side, having never been fitted:)


Buried buffers in the grassy mound signify the end of a siding.


This whole area is covered in railway debris, the lineside drains which are in places still open, 4-6 foot deep and ready to catch out the unwary!


Imprints of railway sleepers, pointwork judging by the positioning, are still in the ground some 43 years after the tracks were lifted.


Woodford Halse, Turning Triangle in its heyday.

I ran out of daylight hours to do any further exploration of the the remains of the station etc. The village is steeped in railway architecture from the railway houses to the pubs and social club that use to be used by the railwaymen living here. A timewarp in the middle of Northamptonshire. A return is in order.

Further photos at:

Hope I have not bored you to much:lol: