Quainton Road is a station closed to scheduled passenger services on the freight-only line from Aylesbury to Claydon (LNE) Junction and Bicester. It is on the southern edge of the village of Quainton in Buckinghamshire, England and is the home of the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. The station is occasionally served by special trains from Aylesbury, usually during non-winter Bank Holiday events.
Quainton Road was opened in 1868 as an intermediate station on the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway's (A&BR) single-track line to Aylesbury from Claydon (LNE) Junction on the London and North Western Railway's Oxford - Cambridge cross-country route. The A&BR's line was worked from the outset by the Great Western Railway who turned down the chance to acquire the A&BR in 1874. The impoverished railway company was eventually absorbed by the Metropolitan Railway in 1891, who doubled the track in 1897. Quainton Road had become the terminus of the Brill Tramway in 1871, one of the first 'light railways' opened under new legislation brought in to support local lines. On 1 December 1899 the tramway became known as the Oxford and Aylesbury Tramway and was absorbed into the Metropolitan which initially planned to extend it to Oxford.
As a result of the replacement of the original level crossing by a road bridge, the original Quainton Road station closed on 29 November 1896 along with the Brill Tramway station, and a new combined station (re-located from the "Country" to the "London" side of Station Road) was opened by the Metropolitan Railway the next day.
The acrimony between the GCR and the Metropolitan cooled in the early years of the twentieth century, with the resignation of John Bell and his GCR counterpart, Sir William Pollitt. An agreement was reached on 4 July 1904 whereby the Metropolitan's lines from Harrow South junction to Chesham, Aylesbury and Verney Junction (including Quainton Road and the Brill Tramway) were transferred to a Metropolitan and Great Central Joint Committee which would pay an annual rent to the Metropolitan. The GCR was put under an obligation to ensure that the joint line saw a minimum of £45,500 worth of through traffic.
The grouping ordered by the Railways Act 1921 saw the GCR become vested in the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), one of the few changes to the management of services on the line during this period. In 1933, the Metropolitan and the Brill Tramway were absorbed into the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) which subsequently closed the tramway on 30 November 1935 in the face of competition from motor lorry traffic. This was to prove a significant omen for the future as the LNER and LPTB withdrew, as an economy measure, passenger services between Aylesbury and Verney Junction from 6 July 1936. Thereafter Quainton Road was used mainly for goods traffic which had increased during both World Wars; in 1939, the line between the station and Verney Junction was singled and LPTB services were completely withdrawn from 8 September 1947.
A spur, brought into use on 14 September 1940 at Calvert and linking the Varsity Line with the Great Central Main Line, had the effect of diverting much of the traffic which would have used the Verney Junction - Quainton Road route over the Great Central Main Line. Quainton Road was finally closed to passengers from 4 March 1963 and to goods from 4 July 1966 with the closure of the Great Central.
Quainton Road is today the beautifully maintained centrepiece of the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre which was started by the London Railway Preservation Society (LRPS) in 1969. The LRPS had collected a variety of different items of railway equipment which were temporarily stored at depots in Luton and Bishop's Stortford, but as space became problem the society began to look for a permanent home. Several sites were considered before Quainton Road, with its two large goods yards, was chosen. The Quainton Railway Society Ltd was formed in 1969 and the LRPS was formally incorporated into it on 24 April 1971. The society was granted charitable status the following year, and became known as the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. As the station did not have any covered accommodation when the society first moved to the site, a building was erected in the down yard which spanned 150ft long tracks, incorporating workshops, a museum and refreshments facility. Another building was acquired from London Transport and was relocated to Quainton from Wembley Park station; it became known as the "Wembley Shed" and houses engines and carriages awaiting restoration. A 60ft turntable was also later installed.
There are no regular passenger train services, although special services operate from Aylesbury to link with events at the Heritage Centre; these services run via the single line and call at the station's up platform, thus providing step-free access to the centre. For national rail purposes, the station has the three letter identifier QRD. The main station building is on the Up (London-bound) side of the National Rail (NR) line with a smaller (and possibly now unique) wooden building of distinctive style on the platform between the currently-vacant NR Down line trackbed and the platform from which the Brill service ran. At the north-west corner of the site are the somewhat-larger terminal buildings of 1851 from Oxford Rewley Road railway station transplanted here in 2002.
The original line to Verney Junction has been closed and lifted, but the old Great Central Main Line remains, albeit singled, as far as Calvert, the point where it crossed the Varsity Line. Calvert Curve, one of the country's wartime emergency connections, turns to the east, joining the cross-country route at Claydon L&NE Junction, where the formation remains in use for several hundred feet as a shunting neck.
Much of the Buckingham Railway's route to Banbury via Buckingham to the north of Verney Junction remains intact, as does the east-west route from Oxford to Bletchley. There have been plans in the past to make Quainton Road a base for main line steam operations by reaching agreement with Network Rail to share the track as far as Aylesbury. At present, the railway centre is split into two by the Aylesbury-Calvert freight workings, and a restored Aylesbury connection would allow rail access to the northern side of the centre as well as the ability to run services to Aylesbury when paths are available. This development is subject to various factors including future development of National Rail services north of Aylesbury beyond those already in progress to the new Aylesbury Vale Parkway railway station.
The station also featured in the closing sequence of John Betjeman's film Metro-land. In September 2006, Quainton Road was the destination of a special excursion through "Metro-land" to mark the centenary of the birth of Betjeman who had done much to keep alive the spirit of the old Metropolitan Railway.
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