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14x15 Three Northampton Stations

 

Submitted by Kebang

 

I eventually managed to trace the old tracks using the old OS Maps online. Unfortunately these maps were not detailed enough to show the location of the small Sub-Shed which I know existed until 1965, when electrification killed the steam loco.

 

Although projected to be on the first London to Birmingham railway, Northampton was skirted by the final choice of alignment; a loop to remedy this had to wait for several decades. At one time there were three railway stations in Northampton: Northampton (Bridge Street), Northampton (St. John's Street) and Northampton (Castle). The latter was named after Northampton Castle which formerly occupied the site and now survives as the town's only station.
 

 

Bridge Street station was the first station in Northampton, opening on 13 May 1845; originally named simply Northampton, it became Northampton Bridge Street in June 1876. The first railway line to be built in to Northampton was the Northampton and Peterborough Railway from Blisworth to Peterborough East. Northampton was served on this line by Bridge Street station.

 

Castle station (as it is still sometimes known to this day) was the second station to be opened. It was opened with the Northampton and Market Harborough Railway on 16 February 1859 by the site of the historic Northampton Castle. At the time, it was only a small station and handled only passenger traffic; goods traffic continued to be dealt with at Bridge Street. In 1875, the London and North Western Railway obtained powers to quadruple the main line north from Bletchley, with the two new tracks (the "slow lines") diverging at Roade so as to form a new line (the "Northampton Loop") through Northampton. Castle station was rebuilt and expanded over the site of Northampton Castle, the remains of which were purchased and demolished in 1880 to make way for the goods shed. In response to concerns expressed by local historians, the castle's postern gate was moved to a new site in the boundary wall of the new station where it remains to this day. The Loop Line north to Rugby was opened on 1 December 1881, followed by the line south to Roade on 3 April 1882.

 

In 1871, the Midland Railway purchased a plot of land within the grounds of the former St. John's Priory near the centre of Northampton where it was to build the northern terminus of its line from Bedford to Northampton. The plot was bounded on its north by St. John's Street and to the south by Victoria Gardens leading to Cattle Market Road. The station was a large elegant building of a light sandy-coloured limestone was constructed above street level on red brick arches with retaining walls which carried the line above Cattle Market Road as it meandered southwards past Northampton Cattle Market and then across the River Nene. An imposing train shed covered the central part of the two platforms. No passenger footbridge was provided, and so passengers crossed the line using a barrow crossing or a footpath going behind the signal box located on the down side of the line just beyond Cattle Market Road bridge.

 

Six passenger services ran daily from Northampton to Bedford, the first train departing at 0615 and the last at 1952; the journey time was around 40 minutes. A service also ran to Wellingborough, 30 minutes being taken to cover the 12 mile distance. The station did not see any freight services as these were run to the Midland's separate goods station located near Bridge Street station. In 1923, the Midland Railway became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and in July 1939 it was decided to close St. John's as a cost-cutting measure. Services were switched to Castle station via Hardingstone junction. Following closure, the lines leading into the old station were used for a number of years as sidings and the storage of rolling stock. In 1948, the station building was converted into offices and were finally demolished in 1960 to make way for a car park. I was seven years old at the time & unfortunately have no recollection of this station. Bridge St. Station remained in use until 1965 & I can recall this one.

 

At Castle Station until the early 1960's it was quite usual for passengers with pushchairs & the like, under the supervision of station staff, to cross the line using the barrow crossing by the bridge. As the track swept away to the right after it passed under the bridge; and as the view was blocked by the massive bridge supports that were placed between the tracks, I recall this as quite a scary experience as a seven year old hanging onto his mothers skirt as she pushed the pushchair containing baby sister from platform 3 to platform 1.

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