Monday, 15 June 2015

81F shed visits - By Peter Goodearl

Author of the route Wycome Railway and Joint Line, Peter Goodearl, takes us on a tour of Oxford engine shed and the surrounding area. Version 2 of this wonderful route is nearing completion. Enjoy your tour around 81F!
Oxford shed was given the code 81F by British Railways. It was situated just north of Oxford's WR station.

  A new coaling facility was added as part of the Wartime improvements, though it was still a completely manual process, shoveling coal into little wagons to tip into the tender.

  Quite a variety of motive power could be seen at this shed due to the inter-regional services that came through Oxford. Although former GWR engines were naturally dominant, there would often be both LMS and Southern engines using the facilities here at Oxford.

  Goods sidings north of the station were relaid during the War to hold coaching stock when the new yards were brought into use at Hinksey.

In these scenes outside the shed, a Pannier, a Large Prairie and a GWR diesel railcar can be seen.

  The large building on the left in the picture above, represents the Lifting, or 'Top' shop. It incorporated the site water tank as well. 

The sheds were rickety wooden structures dating back to the earliest years of the line. The one on the left was built by the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, the Old Worse and Worse, and the GWR added theirs along side. They defied several plans to replace them. A fire broke out once but, 'unfortunately', the brigade turned up in time. 

Below are some further scenes from the shed and yard area:

Looking across the coal storage lines
A BR Standard 9F is waiting to load with coal
A Collett 0-4-4 tank is next in line for coal
An LMS 8F heads north past 81F with a train of empty mineral wagons
The queue for coal gets longer. A simulated strike perhaps!
  Oxford was a hive of activity, with many lines serving the city. Not only was there the GW north-south mainline, but there was the Thame branch from Princes Risborough, the Fairford Branch and the LMS route from Cambridge. Did you know that Oxford had two stations? 
  Looking south at the northern end of the yard with the LMS lines from Cambridge, Bletchley and Bicester on the left. 
Passing tower of St.Barnabas. The trucks are on an exchange siding between the LMS and GWR. 

  Rewley Road, the LMS station, was situated adjacent to the GWR station. Both lines crossed a channel which connected the end of the Oxford canal, from the Midlands, to the River Thames for onward journey to London. The LMS line was at a lower level and crossed a swing bridge. This bridge still survives, but left open to allow river traffic to pass. Apparently, a gong sounded in the station when a train crossed the bridge. 

Approaching the station shed. Compounds were rare visitors. Hopefully they knew how to drive them. 

  Upon arrival at Oxford Rewley Road, a station pilot would attach to the rear and pull the train out, releasing the train engine to visit the small LMS shed. The station closed in 1951 and passenger workings transferred to the WR station. The LMS engine shed also closed. The goods depot continued to function as did a petrol terminal and coal wharfs. The train shed is now at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. 

The building in the foreground was originally a stables for the company's horses. Apart from delivering around town they were also used for shunting wagons. 
  On the LMS, all trains heading north and east were traveling in the 'up' direction, whereas, on the Great Western, heading south, towards London, was 'up'. I wonder if terminology like that got confusing at a place like Oxford where two railway company's served the area? For example, a train approaching Oxford from Cambridge, approaching from the north, was travelling down. That makes sense. However, a GWR service approaching from the north, say from Banbury, was travelling up. 

  We now move to the northern end of the carriage yard again with Walton Well bridge in the distance. During the War links were added between the GWR and LMS lines and an ARP signal box built. (This section was run from the editor so the signals have not initiated). 

Entering the northern end of the station. A gantry replaced these signals in 1959 
Crossing the Botley road. A level crossing on the right provided an alternative to the low bridge.
 More Soon...................................

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