Monday, 16 July 2012

The railway comes to Wallingford, Berks

South of Abingdon lies the last of the lost railways of Berkshire, the short branchline that ran to Wallingford. The good citizens of Wallingford had been railway enthusiasts from the moment the GWR was first proposed. They were deeply disappointed when the mainline passed three miles west of their town and were particularly annoyed when the station built to serve their town was named Moulsford, after the village in which it stood. Within six months protests from the town got the station’s name changed to Wallingford Road.

This was not enough for the people of Wallingford. When the GWR definitively refused to build a branch line, the town decided to build one for itself. In 1864 the Wallingford and Watlington Railway Company gained an Act of Parliament authorising it to build a line from the GWR mainline near Cholsey to Watlington. The company opted to build on the standard gauge, so the line could not share rolling stock with broad gauge GWR. Instead the branch line had a bay platform at the old Wallingford Road station, now renamed Moulsford once again. 

The Wallingford and Watlington Railway Company was able to raise only enough money to build the line from Cholsey as far as Wallingford. The cost of bridging the Thames proved to be beyond the abilities of the brokers to sell shares, so Watlington remained without its railway. Nevertheless, the company directors were jubilant as they rode the first train from Moulsford to Wallingford on 2 July 1866.

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