Halton Railway

Halton Railway

Early in WW1 the War Office requisitioned road vehicles belonging to local traders as well as those of the Metropolitan Railway to get supplies to Halton from Wendover Station. Mr Thomas William Read, who was Station master at Wendover in 1915 (and who retired in 1926, died in Feb 1944 and is buried in St Mary's churchyard, Wendover) walked, one Sunday morning with his son, from the north end of Wendover Station Yard to Halton. He prepared a plan of a simple railway line to the Military Camp, and presented his proposal to the "Met" Board at Baker Street. The Directors accepted the planned route and Mr Read received £350 for it, which enabled him to purchase a house in Chiltern Road, Wendover.

With the Military's approval the railway was built by German POW's being held at Halton and supervised by Military personnel in just 8 weeks and ran from the junction of the Metropolitan/Great Central railway at Wendover and finished at the Halton Camp. The line opened for traffic in 1917.

The Halton light railway ran from a specially constructed platform adjacent to the North end of the Up Line platform of Wendover Station and terminated close to the workshops at Chestnut Avenue, Halton. The total length of the line including its sidings was approximately 1.75 miles (2.82 km).

During 1917 the Military were faced yet again with another acute shortage of timber, not only for duck boards and trench props, but also, particularly hardwood for aircraft fittings. Alfred de Rothschild gave permission for the beech trees to be felled from the woodland on his Halton estate above Icknield Way (Tring Road). The railway was immediately used to facilitate the removal of this timber for the Military, and the line continued as a supply source for the later Royal Air Force Camp, being used extensively during World War Two.

In 1918 a major building programme at Halton produced barrack blocks, messes and an education block to replace the wartime huts. The narrow gauge railway link to Wendover, which had been used to transport timber from the estate in support of the war effort, was replaced with a standard gauge branch line bringing in coal and building materials. But when the RAF changed over to oil-fired generators in the late 1950's fuel supplies were delivered direct by road tankers and the line declined in use. In the early 1960's for the line to remain operational, the whole of the track would have had to be completely replaced. After considerable discussion the decision was taken for closure. Although the line has completely been removed now, there is still visible evidence of embankments in the woods and some of the platforms still adjacent to the camp roads.

A Narrow gauge railway (1ft 11½ in) which had been installed to assist with the construction of the workshops was quickly extended into the woodland. The railway was steam operated and crossed the Tring Road close to Main Point. After leaving the woodland the engine propelled its wagons back across the road, running parallel to Chestnut Avenue, then turned left at the workshops to arrive alongside the Halton Light Railway just south of the terminus. The timber was transferred from the tipper trucks to the standard gauge wagons ready to be taken to Wendover Station. Although primarily a freight line the Halton Light Railway did carry unofficial passengers.

Halton Railway The last train left Halton amid much ceremony on the 29th March 1963 and the line officially closed on 31st March 1963 due to the track needing replacing and being used less and less after oil replaced coal to fire Haltons' power house.

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