Cholsey & Wallingford Railway

A brief history of Cholsey & Wallingford Railway

Businesses in Wallingford were disappointed when the original proposed route from London to Bristol was changed and passed through Didcot. Local businessmen met and formed the Wallingford and Watlington Railway Company (WWRC) in 1864 with the aim of building a branchline from Moulsford (initially named ‘Wallingford Road’ Station) to Wallingford and then going on to Watlington. Although the line to Wallingford opened in July 1866, it was hard to raise share capital as bank interest rates were high in the 1860s following the collapse of at least one bank and the line did not progress further because of the prohibitive cost of building a bridge over the River Thames at Benson.

From the outset the WWRC built to the ‘new’ standard, not broad, gauge and it was the first standard gauge branchline to be built in the GWR region (others being converted from broad gauge), the company also hired rolling stock from the GWR. Unfortunately passenger and freight revenues never realised the predicted levels and WWRC had financial difficulties from the beginning and in 1872 the line was sold to GWR. When changing the main line to standard gauge the land occupied by the branchline between Moulsford and Cholsey was needed to increase to double the tracks to four and so a station was built at Cholsey (1892) and the branchline ran only from the new bay platform at Cholsey to Wallingford, as it does today.

Cheese and Wine

Enjoy an evening of cheese and wine aboard our heritage train. Saturday 1st June.

In association with Wallingford Local Producers Market, you'll be able to enjoy a range of local cheeses and cheese products. These will be paired with a range of wines from Pierre le Vin, through a wine tasting.

Traffic diminished after WW2 and passenger services to Wallingford ceased in June 1959, freight services continued until September 1965 when Wallingford Station was closed, and the line was shortened to serve only the ABM Maltings – the site of the present Wallingford Station. This freight-only long siding was used until 29th May 1981 by which time even the Maltings were moving most of their goods by road and the condition of the line had deteriorated considerably. On the 30th May the Royal Train was present overnight and on the 31st May 1981 a DMU tour (The Wallingford Wake) ran from Paddington to Wallingford. The Cholsey & Wallingford Railway Preservation Society was formed by those travelling on that DMU.

The line was often used to stable the Royal Train to allow the Royal party to arrive in Slough (for Windsor) or London in daylight, it was also used to stable Winston Churchill’s train at times during WW2. In another claim to fame the initial publicity photos for the new high-speed 125 trains were all taken on the branchline – the 8-coach, blue and yellow liveried train would have made quite a sight on the line as would have double-heading Castles on the Royal train!

Later this year we hope to install a run-round loop at Wallingford. We’d love to build an engine shed, have plans to relocate Stoke Canon signal box to Wallingford and erect the old Oxford signal gantry with semaphore signalling. We also hope to install a water tower close to the signal box. Looking further ahead we have plans for a Station building and we would like to construct a small Halt by Church Bridge to provide access to St Mary’s Church where Agatha Christie is buried. Your assistance in any of these projects would be much appreciated!

Start your heritage railway journey today and book your tickets to travel through the countryside on "The Bunk"

Bank holiday train rides

Bank holiday train rides

Cheese and Wine

Enjoy an evening of cheese and wine aboard our heritage train. Saturday 1st June.

In association with Wallingford Local Producers Market, you'll be able to enjoy a range of local cheeses and cheese products. These will be paired with a range of wines from Pierre le Vin, through a wine tasting.

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Start your heritage railway journey today and book your tickets to travel through the countryside on "The Bunk"

Running Days 2024

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