Queen Victoria’s Christmas

Queen Victoria and her husband were the guests of the Duke of Buckingam at his palatial establishment at Stowe at the beginning of 1845. The journey would take the by railway from Euston to Wolverton and thence by carriage to Stowe. For the railway and North Bucks residents this was a great occasion and great efforts were made. A waiting room was re-decorated for her Majesty and the roads were scraped and levelled. Most of the towns and villages along the route were decorated. This report from the Morning Chronicle details the return journey.

The newly refurbished waiting room at Wolverton



Morning Chronicle January 20 1845

Her Majesty’sVisit to Stowe
Return of Her majesty
(From our reporter.)

The principal entertainment provided for her Majesty at Stowe on Friday evening by the care of her noble host, was a concert in which the Messrs. Distins were the performers.
To this concert the invitations were very numerous. The list was given in Saturday’s paper.
As the company arrived, something like a drawing-room was held – the guests, on being announced, passing in long array before her majesty, who occupied a throne-like chair in one of the principal apartments.
The Earl of Delawarr and the Duke of Buckingham stood on either side of her Majesty.
During the evening the Queen, observing that some inconvenience was experienced by several of the ladies and gentlemen as they were introduced in approaching sufficiently near to the place she occupied, rose, and herself attempted to move her seat to a more desireable position. The motion was of course anticipated by the watchfulness of her Majesty’s attendants, and the position of the chair duly altered.
The concert went off extremely well, her majesty expressing herself as much gratified. The following was the programme:-
Quintet: “Robert toi que j’aime” Meyerbeer.
Quartet: Prize glee, “Harmony” Beale
Fantasia: Trumpet, Mr. Distin, “The Soldier Tired,” accompanied on the pianoforte by Mr. James Perring Dr. Arne
Quintet: Etude, “Le Penitent Moir” Bertini
Quintet: “Fra poco a me” (Lucia) Donizetti
Quintet: Air de Joseph Meehul
“God Save the Queen.”
About half-past elen o’clock her Majesty and the Prince, attended bythe Duke of Buckingham and the Duchess, passed into the supper room, where they remained for about half an hour.
Shortly after twelve o’clock the Queen and the Prince retired for the night, and the company generally took their departure shortly after one o’clock.

Stowe House in 1829


At an early hour on Saturday morning the note of preparation for the departure of the Queen and her Royal Company was sounded.
The portion of the Bucks Yeomanry not selected for escort duty was drawn up near the mansion of Stowe.
The artillery troop took up a favourable position for firing a royal salute.
In Buckingham something like the bustle for the day of arrival was visible. From an early hour the church bells tolled merrily. The flags and banners, which had been kept flying, and the arches and evergreen decorations which had not been removed,looked as fresh and gay as ever. Most of the inhabitants wore ribbons and favours, and the stand erected for spectators was again partially crowded.
Shorty after ten o’clock the royal cortege left Stowe, both her Majesty and the Prince having expressed their delight at the reception they had met with, and their appreciation of the efforts made for their entertainment by their noble host. Bothe The Duke of Buckingham and the Marquess of Chandos rode alongside the royal carriage.
The party passed through the double lines of the yeomanry, the artillery meanwhile saluting, and the band playing the National Anthem.
At Buckingham they were met by townspeople in procession, formed into a somewhat similar order as on the day of arrival.
The usual demonstrations of loyalty and affection were vociferously bestowed on all hands.
After leaving Buckingham, the party proceeded rapidly towards Wolverton.
The escort duty was arranged as before.
At the different arches along the road, groups of the peasantry living in the neighbourhood had assembled, and vociferously cheered the Queen and Prince as they passed by.
At Page-hill the Duke of Buckingham stopped and took leave of his royal guests, returning to Stowe. The Marquess of Chandos accompanied them to Wolverton.
At Stony Stratford, the royal party was met by Lord Carrington, the lord-lieutenant of the county, on horseback. The cavalcade proceeded slowly through the little town, the denizens of which greeted it right loyally. As at Buckingham the evergreens, flags, and ivy still decorated the streets.
The distance from Stony Stratford to Wolverton was soon accomplished, and the cortege drove to the station at a rapid rate.
Inside the station, the staff of the Royal Bucks Militia, and a dismounted party of the yeomanry, under Major Lucas, were drawn up. A number of respectable people had also been admitted to view the arrival and departure of royalty. The usual preparations had been duly made. Crimson cloth was laid over the platform, and the apartment destined for the reception of her Majesty arranged as on the journey down.
Mr Glynn, the chairman of the company, Mr. Creed, the secretary, and several of the principal officials of the railway were in attendance.
The royal party arrived shortly before twelve o’clock.
Her Majesty and the Prince retired for a short time to the apartment provided for them, and then, the special train being reported in readiness, proceeded to the royal carriage. On the platform they took leave of the Marquess of Chandos and Lord Carrington. Prince Albert conversed for some time with the former nobleman, who stood close to the door of the royal carriage.
At twelve o’clock the train was set in motion. Mr. Berry drove the engine. The distance from Wolverton to Euston square, fifty-to miles, was performed in an hour and twenty-five minutes.
On the arrival of the train Mr. Boothby, one of the principal directors was in attendance to receive it, and many ladies were assembled on the platform to greet her Majesty on her return.


The whole of the coachmakers and other mechanics working at the terminus, as well as the servants of the company, were also assembled, amounting in all to between three and four hundred, drawn up on the platform. The assemblage cheered lustily as the train stopped, and her Majesty and the Prince stepped across the platform into the apartment provided for them.

Wolverton’s First Day


George Carr Glyn must have been very excited as he rose early on Monday morning, September 17th 1838 to take his carriage to Euston. This day would mark the opening of the uninterrupted London to Birmingham railway line – a full journey of 112 miles that could be completed at double the average speed of the fastest stagecoach. As chairman of the London and Birmingham Railway Company from its formation he had steered the new venture through the difficulties of parliamentary acts, raising massive capital, negotiating land acquisition and overcoming massive engineering problems. The last of these, the difficult construction of the Kilsby tunnel and issues with the Wolverton Viaduct had now been surmounted. From this day through passengers no longer had to alight in the no mans land of Denbigh Hall on the Watling Street, and proceed by stage coach to Rugby before resuming their rail journey to the Birmingham destination.
He could feel pleased with himself and as he met his fellow directors and chief officers for a 7 o- clock departure from Euston. The conversation must have been lively and self satisfied.
The train passed over Denbigh Hall bridge on to new rail for the first time – at least officially, and a further 8 miles brought them to Wolverton, the first station after Leighton Buzzard, and at that time in a fairly rudimentary state. A wooden station had been erected on the embankment and an approach road from the Stony Stratford to Newport Pagnell turnpike had been cut alongside this embankment. Passengers had to climb a long flight of steps and although we have no record of it there must have been a lot of grumbling. This may have stimulated the directors to build a new station on newly acquired land to the south only two years later.
We know little about this station. Some plan drawings from 1840 survive and there is a rather rudimentary line engraving with little detail that was published at the time. Subsequent redevelopment has probably destroyed any archaeological remnants.

Some facts can be asserted. Work had already started on the new engine shed and surrounding railway cottages. A wharf was built on the south side of the canal, and a well had been sunk to over 300 feet and a pump house built over it. Steam engines were thirsty machines and the proximity of the canal would not have guaranteed a sufficient supply, although as it turned out this well water was extremely hard and had to be diluted with canal water to minimize scale.
So the painting here is largely imaginary while depending on some salient facts.  The canal course has not changed and the embankment of the original line survives, as well as the bridge. The engraving above shows some station buildings. The rest is mostly conjecture. Te land to the north of the canal was still a field, probably used for pasture in 1838. It was soon leased to two Stony Stratford men who built the first Radcliffe Arms on this spot to cash in on the railway trade. The inn was trading in 1839 but it became something of a white elephant after the removal of the railway station in 1840 and its subsequent isolation from the new town.
We know from newspaper reports that a substantial crowd gathered to marvel at the new phenomenon of rail travel, many from nearby Stony Stratford who depended on the pre-eminence of coach travel for their livelihood. Little did they know.

Wolverton’s First Railway Casualty?

The London and Birmingham Railway opened through Wolverton for the first time on September 18th 1838. A day later an unfortunate man by the name of Francis Wilson whose body was found beside the line on the 19th, not even 24 hours after the line was opened.

The Bucks Herald reported on the inquest held on September 20th.

On the 20th. inst., at Wolverton, on view the body of Francis Wilson, who was found about 5 o’clock in the morning of the 19th instant, on the railroad near to the Wolverton Station – he was alive, but insensible. It appeared that the deceased had been drinking, and was returning home between 10 and 11 o’clock, when it is supposed he attempted to cross the railway, being the nearest way to his lodgings, and in so doing, was knocked down by the engine of the eleven o’clock down mail. His skull was most extensively fractured and a portion of the brain had escaped, and he died a few hours afterwards. Verdict accordingly. The Coroner severely reprimanded the policemen on duty, as it was evident they had not been so attentive to their duty as they ought to have been, or the poor man would have been prevented from going on the railroad, or at least discovered sooner.

These sorts of accidents were not, tragically, uncommon in those early days. There was a complete lack of awareness of this new machinery, and it appears that the engine driver was probably unaware of the impact at the moment it happened, even though the engine was probably travelling at no more than 30 miles an hour. I wonder too where he had been drinking. There were no pubs at Wolverton Station at that time – the nearest would be The New Inn at Bradwell and the forerunner of The Galleon at Old Wolverton.

As another reminder about how serious risks to health and safety used to be, the same coroner had to pronounce a verdict on this truly shocking incident.

On the 14th inst, at Hillsden, on view the body of Phillis Mansell, aged 6 years, who on being left alone by her mother for a few minutes, attempted to take a tea kettle off the fire, and in so doing, he clothes caught fire. Medical assistance was called in, but she died the same day. Verdict – accidental death.

Wolverton Works and the Station in 1863

Plan of Wolverton in 1863 (from Harry Jack’s book)
The above plan shows New Wolverton on the 25th anniversary of its creation. The original workshop expanded to the north in the late 1850s to wipe out three streets of houses and as you can see it is also starting to take up farm land to the west. What we later knew as the Stratford Road and Church Street is a new development and you can still see today those buildings from the early 1860s. Glyn Square is still an actual square with terraced houses on three sides. The Market House, which was burned down in 1906, is on the site of the present two storey building.
But let me turn my attention to the station, built in 1840 and was to remain in service to 1881. It was, to judge from drawings from the 1840s, quite an impressive building and was celebrated for its refreshment rooms. In ts heyday in the 1840s Wolverton was a mandatory stop so that engines could be changed and passengers could refresh themselves in more ways than one. There was a staff of over 30 to administer to the needs of travellers and since the stopover was only ten minutes speed an efficiency were paramount. The organization was presided over by Mrs Leonora Hibbert, who was described by Sir Francis Bond Head as the “generalissima”. She later moved to a hotel in Bangor.
As engines became faster and more reliable, the necessity of stopping off in Wolverton diminished and the refreshment rooms went into decline. Plans to build a hotel on this site were scrapped.
South of the railway line you can see the six villas, now the site of the “Secret Garden”. Originally the approach road to the station ramped down from the canal bridge, but after 1881 that whole area was hidden away in anonymity. On this side of the railway they built the first paint shop and the second Gas Work were sited here before being moved to the Old Wolverton Road in 1881.
Below are two photographs taken in December 1861 from the east. You can see the spire of St Georges in the background. Behind the engine is a water tower and the southern end of the station buildings.

New Bloomer engine awaiting a paint job.
Express Goods Engine 1861

Both engines appear to have been lined up for a photograph before being backed into the Paint Shed for painting, by hand in those days, and using lead-based paints.

Wolverton in 1847

Wolverton station in 1847

This plan of Wolverton I discovered last week attached to a report to the Radcliffe Trust by a man called Edward Driver. It is dated April 17th 1847.

On of the issues that Mr Driver had to deal with was the encroachment on the field (here marked in red) by the residents of Wolverton who were setting up allotments at the back of Bury Street. There were even pigsties, according to Mr Driver.
Mr Driver’s recommendation was to sell the field marked in red too the LNWR and build a high brick or stone wall around the railway property to prevent any further encroachments. He further suggested the sale of the two fields marked in brown. I am not sure that this sale was effected at this time, although it was done later.
The field coloured yellow was the one leased to Clare and Congreve to build the Radcliffe Arms. Most of this became the Park in 1885. We can here see a clear drawing of the radcliffe Arms and its approach roads. One curiosity here is the proposal for a new pb on this land, more-or-less where the station entrance used to be. As far as we kow this was never built.
All of the original streets are shown here, but you can see the extension of Ledsam Strteet and Young Street as pencil lines. These cottages were built in these years, as was the short extension of Creed Street, which was mainly shops.

The last days of the third station

Wolverton is now on its fourth set of station buildings, although the site and the platforms remain as they have done since 1881.
Phillip Webb has just sent me these two photos which show the third station buildings in the process of demolition in 1990.

The first photo shows the Booking Hall, mounted on piers, and the second one of the covered flights of stairs which led down to the platforms.
My post on the third station can be found here.
And if you want to go back to the second and first stations, click on the links.

Opening of the London and Birmingham Railway

Another article from The Times. This report comes from the edition of September 18th, 1838.

Yesterday was the first day that the complete line of railroad from the London to the Birmingham terminus was opened. The portion of the road which was traversed for the first time on this occasion was that which extends between the old station at Denbigh hall and the station at Rugby. The station at the former place now no longer exists; but there are on this extent of 35 miles stations at Wolverton, Roade, Blisworth, Weedon, and Crick. The first train started from the Euston square station at 7 o’clock, having in the carriages the proprietors of the undertaking and their friends. It was said in Birmingham that they accomplished the whole journey in four hours and a half. The next train, which was open to the public, left Euston square station at 10 minutes after 8 o’clock, but did not get fairly under weigh with the steam engine until 25 minutes past 8. The train reached Birmingham by the Birmingham clocks at the terminus at two minutes to 2. Watford was reached in 33 minutes from the Euston station. The train halted there three minutes. Tring was reached in 73 minutes, and the train halted four minutes and a half. Wolverton, the first new station, was reached by 28 minutes past 10, the the train halted 25 minutes. At this place a great crowd of persons were assembled, and preparations were made for a rural feast and celebration of the opening of the line. Roade was reached at 17 minutes past 11, the train stopped 10 minutes at this station, which is 60 miles from London. Weedon, which is nine miles further, was reached at 7 minutes to 12 o’clock, and Rugby, which is 83 miles miles from London, at half pat 12. The train stopped here 8 minutes. Coventry was reached at six minutes part 1 o’clock, and here the train remained for 15 minutes. The next place was Birmingham. The portion of the line just opened, from Denbigh hall to Rugby, appears to be equally good with any other part of the road. It is this division of the road, shortly before entering Rugby station, that the trains pass through Kilsby tunnel. It has been asserted that this tunnel fell in during the boring of it, but it is not the case. It is one of the most extraordinary pieces of road in the whole line. The length of this tunnel is 2,400 yards in length, and does great credit to the skill of Mr. Foster, the engineer by whom it has been completed. The train which left Birmingham for London at half past 12 was delayed, by some means or other, on the road for nearly two hours, in consequence of which, the train next in succession, which left Birmingham at half past 2, was delayed almost two hours when almost close to Euston station; this last train arrived in London about 20 minutes to 10, instead of a quarter past 8, the hour stated for arriving in public announcements. It does not appear that any accident whatever occurred on the road; indeed so excellent were the arrangements, that the possibility of accident was provided for in every way that could be imagined

There is a lot of detail about time in this report and a journey of four and a half hours was a long one. But a journey of this length, which would hitherto have taken 10 hours by the fastest stagecoach was an amazing phenomenon to those early Victorians. The journey from Euston to Wolverton took three hours and the passengers would have needed the 25 minutes to relieve themselves at the new station. Obviously someone had taken the trouble to organize a “rural feast”. The moment signalled a great change for Wolverton.  Another account of this event can be found here.

The Third Station

The third station opened in 1881 on the new loop line around Wolverton Works and is shown here with its entrance on the Stratford Road. It was a wooden building supported on brick pillars above the railway line. Covered staircases took passengers down to the platforms. Platform 1 on the left was the main down line. The middle staircase met platforms 2 and 3. Platform 2 was the main up line and 3 the secondary down line. There were also waiting rooms on this platform. The third stair flight went down to Platforms 4 and 5. Platform 5 was used exclusively for the “Nobby Newport” branch line.

The Stratford Road entrance took you into an entrance hall. the booking office was on the left and the parcels office on the right. Besides the parcels office stood a large weigh scale. The ticket collector stood at the gate and punched your tickets as you went through. No one was allowed past without a ticket. Even if you were going to wave someone off,  you had to purchase a “Platform Ticket”, which I think cost a penny.

The upper hall always had a smell of steam, as I remember. In the 1950s there were still porters working at the station whose job it was to carry and help load luggage. There was a goods lift that went down to Platforms 2 and 3. Nobody travelled light in those days. If you went on holiday for two week you had to take all the clothes you needed because there were no self-serve laundrettes, nor had non-iron clothing been invented. Therefore a family holiday meant the packing of large trunks and suitcases, which, at the station end, could be carried by porters with trolleys.

The station was built for an age which had low volumes of road traffic. There were nearby bus stops of course but most passengers walked to the station. The odd taxi or car could stop outside the front entrance without disturbing traffic very much. In  1990 or thereabouts access to the station was changed to the car park down the hill and the wooden building which had done more than 100 years service (longer than either of its predecessors) was demolished.

The Second Station

Wolverton’s function as a repair depot and its subsequent development into an important factory approaching 5000 employees somewhat overshadowed the true function of the railway which was the carriage of passengers and goods. In this respect Wolverton was initially a very important station as the service centre for rolling stock and passengers. As the century progressed and the L & NWR developed as a major national company the importance of Wolverton diminished. Wolverton was designated a first class station by the original L & BR Board while Bletchley, for example was given fourth class status, but after the construction of the important cross country line linking Oxford to Bedford, Bletchley grew in size, busyness and importance. The station at Wolverton went into relative decline and whereas express trains of the later nineteenth century would pause at Watford and Bletchley, they would speed through the one-time compulsory stopping point of Wolverton.
The initial wonder of Wolverton to the passing traveller was the Refreshment Rooms. The journey from London was a long one in the 1830s, over three hours, and not comfortable, so while the engines were being changed the passengers’ needs could also be met. But as trains became faster there was less need, and eventually no need, to pause at Wolverton. Passengers might go to Wolverton, but only on railway business. Passengers might depart from Wolverton but only at weekends or for holidays. The other factor in the decline of Wolverton Station was the sheer dominance of the railway works. There was no room for any other industry that might have used the railway on a commercial basis, so all development came from a single employer. It was good while it lasted but there was no diversity from which to develop Wolverton into a different kind of town.
The second station, which lasted for 40 years, was probably the finest of the Wolverton Stations. It opened in 1840 and probably enjoyed its heyday for a decade or so. Over time, as well as the reasons given above, it became crowded out by workshops and in 1881 the third station building, built at the level of the Stratford Road above the railway track opened for business. This one comprised a booking office on one side and a parcels office on the other. There were platform waiting rooms, but no refreshment services.
 The contemporary engraving of the second station, shown below, reveals a colonnaded, covered platform on either side with the up and down lines in the centre. The plan for the station and refreshment rooms however do show a roof over the railway track, presumably to protect passengers from the elements as they embarked or alighted. So this is an unexplained discrepancy. Either these covers were not built, or they were originally built and then taken down because of the smoke, or the artist simply left them out of the picture for artistic reasons.
This station took only five months to build but was fully featured with booking office, dining room, waiting rooms, ladies rooms and urinals at each end of the platform. There were kitchens and cellars on both sides and an ice house was constructed on the south side. To top it all there was a piggery and a small garden for vegetables.


The Second Wolverton Station 1840-1881

Sir Francis Bond Head, whose account may be found in full here , visited Wolverton in 1848 and left a very detailed and enthusiastic account of the Refreshment Rooms.
The refreshment establishment at Wolverton is composed of:
1.   A matron or generallissima
2.     Seven very young ladies to wait upon the passengers.
3   Four men and three boys do. do.
4.     One man-cook, his kitchen maid, and his two scullery maids
5.   Two housemaids
6.     One still-room maid, employed solely in the liquid duty of making tea and coffee.
7.   Two laundry maids
8.   One baker and one baker’s boy
9.   One garden boy
            And lastly, what is most significantly described in the books of the establishment –
10.            An “odd-man”.[1]
The 1851 census details Mrs. Hibbert as already noted – then aged 40 and probably very much a “generalissima”, together with seven female assistants ranging from 26 to 16, three waiters in their early twenties and two pages, a cellarman and a cellar boy, a baker’s boy, two house maids, a kitchen maid and a scullery maid, two laundry maids, the still room maid, Eliza Garrett and of course the “Odd Man”, 22 year old Thomas Bettles and his 18 year-old brother Jeffrey, the garden boy.
The Refreshment Rooms were let to the Railway Hotel Company at a rent equal to 10% of the cost of building with a review of these terms every three years. The first manager was Henry Taylor, assisted by Leonora Hibbert, the housekeeper. The various cakes and buns were the work of Giovani Solati, the confectioner. The live-in staff totaled 21 in 1841. By 1851 Leonora Hibbert is fully in charge of the operation. Her husband James, absent from the 1841 census, was a railway clerk. The live-in staff amounted to 27 in 1851. I say live-in staff for although it was customary for servants to live on the premises where they worked being expected to work and be on call all hours, There must have been employment for local residents. Refreshment Room facilities were provided on both sides of the track, on the up line and the down line. Urinals were provided at either end of the platforms for men and waiting rooms for ladies. Sir Francis Head mentions an overhead walkway over the lines but my guess is that it was not there in the early years and is certainly not apparent in the early engraving reproduced here. Each side of the track was made up of four sections, a covered siding for the trains, a platform, public rooms, and the kitchen and scullery at the back. An ice house was built into the ground on the east side and from Sir Francis Head we learn that they maintained a garden for garden produce and reared some pigs:
To the eatables are to be added, or driven, the 45 pigs, who after having been from their birth most kindly treated and most luxuriously fed, are impartially’ promoted, by seniority, one after another, into an infinite number of pork pies.
Mrs. Hibbert again features in Rambles on Railways by Cusack Roney, writing in 1867. He speaks of the late Mrs. Hibbert and her redoutable reputation, tending to reinforce the “generalissima” characterization. I have to say that I regard Roney as a somewhat lazy observer. He quotes heavily from Head’s account and tends to rely a lot upon second-hand information – at any rate, in regard to Wolverton. However, we can take Head’s characterization of her as a “Generalissima” as a very good clue as to the strong character who ran the Refreshment Rooms in their heyday At the time of Head visit, around 1847, the Refreshment Rooms still enjoyed fame throughout the land. They represented a new phenomenon and attracted attention in much the same way as the Fortes motorway restaurant did when it opened in 1960 at Newport Pagnell. The bloom faded of course, and the census records a gradual decline in numbers employed. When the time came to open the third station in 1881, no refreshment facilities were provided.
The plans partially reproduced below offer some detail as to the extent of the amenities. The large refreshment room is central and there are urinals for men at either end of the platform. The ladies have their own waiting room and toilet facilities. Behind all this is a large kitchen and scullery for the quite sizable staff already detailed. The plan below is for additional refreshment rooms for the down line. The up line refreshment rooms, the first to be built, were a two storey affair with a dining room at ground level and a drawing room upstairs. As these plans have been drawn for an additional hallway and staircase, they do not show the kitchen, nor indeed any living quarters for staff, so we must guess that they were there.


Plan drawings for the Refreshment Rooms
As we have seen, between 20 and 30 staff are recorded in censuses as resident at the Refreshment Rooms, and indeed it was common practice for servants of all types to live on the premises where they worked. The workers that we would nowadays call shop assistants or catering staff were universally regarded as servants in the 1840s and treated as such – that is, they were given accommodation and board, paid low wages, and were expected to work long hours. The down line building appears to be single storey with a basement of wine cellars and cold storage. These drawings may have been made for buildings on the up line. However, the drawing shows buildings on both sides at equal height and perhaps these conflicts in the available evidence cannot be resolved.


 A waiting room at Wolverton Station

On the occasion of the visit of Queen Victoria to Wolverton in 1845 the waiting room was redecorated. I am sure there was a lot of scurrying around to get everything perfect and the visit, being recorded by the Illustrated London News, gives us an opportunity to view the interior. From the plan this room looks as if it was the upper drawing room shown in plan form above, and it looks very comfortable and pleasant – a far cry from the dingy waiting rooms the railway traveller might encounter a century later.


Here is one photograph, taken circa 1860, which although its subject is a steam engine, shows the kitchens of the station in the background.



The First Station

Although the first trains from Euston took 3 hr 15 minute to reach Wolverton there were not many stops. The first station was Harrow,  just 8 miles from Euston, then Watford, at the time a small town of under 3,000 people. They built a station at Boxmoor to serve Hemel Hempstead and another at Berkhampstead. By the time they reached Tring they were only 30 miles from London. The only stop between Tring and Wolverton was Leighton Buzzard. Bletchley had not been built. Wolverton was the half way point between London and Birmingham and for this reason was chosen at the service depot.

The first station was not a grand affair and was built on the embankment to the north of the canal. It must have become quickly apparent that it was inconveniently located and the Board soon resolved to build a more splendid station at the southern end of the new town.  Wolverton was not the only example of this early siting of stations. The temporary station at the infamous Denbigh Hall was one such, and Blisworth was provided with a similar arrangement. A drawing of this first station survives and here we can see a representation of a double flight of stairs that probably made it unpopular with passengers.


The drawing is not entirely satisfactory. The Binns and Clifford survey of 1840 shows a Goods Shed beside the wharf where the hoist has been drawn and a pumping station on the other side of the railway line. The large building on the left appears to have the height and dimensions of a pumping station but it is closer to the wharf near to where the Goods Shed was actually located and may be a representation of that Goods Shed.
In fairness it must be said that the original illustration in Thomas Roscoes “The London and Birmingham Railway” was about half the size represented here and was not indended to offer much detail.
The station lasted from 1838 to 1840.