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Banbury - express passenger

I'm beginning with the older pictures to hand. As always, new additions will be inserted chronologically. My apologies for the uneven quality, some pictures are definitely better than others. As usual, I am showing the whole print area, except for tilted views where correction loses a little round the edges.

GWR period

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Seen on a fine late summer Saturday in 1929 from Banbury North Signal Box with a little motion blue on the front, recently converted from a "Star", "Castle" No 4037 Queen Philippa, still with a small tender, swings past the north yards on the approach to the station with an express, probably from Birmingham or Wolverhampton. 7th September 1929. The loco was renamed The South Wales Borderers in 1937. Photo: CM & JM Bentley, believed to have been taken by W. Leslie Good.

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"Castle" No 4097 Kenilworth Castle, also with a small tender, swings round the curve with a secondary express. The location is described as "Banbury" but to my eye, it's not. Can anybody identify it? Photo: CM & JM Bentley, believed to have been taken by W. Leslie Good.

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"King" No 6003 King George IV runs past Banbury South Signal Box and through the platforms. The picture was taken into the sun and the top of the goods shed is cropped off; I can only suggest that this was an early afternoon non-stop Paddington-Birkenhead express and a little tricky to capture! Saturday 11th September 1937. Photo: H.C. Casserley.

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Not an express but useful to include here as it was taken on the same day as 6003 above, and from the same spot on the station. Once again, the sun is in the wrong place but it's nice to see passengers scurrying to get aboard an Ordinary Passenger train at the Up Main Platform, No 4 at the time. In charge is "original Hall" No 5947 Saint Benet's Hall, (a Banbury loco in the 1950s and '60s). To the right, in the Up Bay, some Collett coaches have been parked with an auto-coach beyond them, against the buffers.

The picture also shows the goods platforms at this end of the station and a glimpse of the wooden station building. Saturday 11th September 1937. Photo: H.C. Casserley.

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Summer a year after WWII ended sees "original Hall" No 4921(?) Eaton Hall with the injectors on as it swings past the North Yards towards Banbury Junction with a Sunday secondary express made up to seven coaches. The Collett stock is quite a mixture, and so are the liveries: both chocolate & cream and war-time brown, the latter looking awfully dreary. A pannier tank can just be seen on the left shunting in the yards 20th July 1946. Photo: H.C. Casserley.

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Approaching the platforms from the south is 5033 Broughton Castle with a Down express. To the left stands the old outside lavatory for staff and to the right, alongside the goods shed, several cattle trucks of ex-LMS design. The date is estimated around 1947-48. One cannot help thinking that this was a perfectly good location to photograph north-bound expresses on the rising gradients, but in the morning! In the afternoon the camera pointed into the sun and no amount of fiddling with Photoshop can make amends. :) Photo: Milepost 92 1/2.

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BR days

It may be 1952 but the scene is 100% ex-GWR with the original "Star", No 4000 North Star, as rebuilt into a "Castle" in 1929, at the Up platform with a nameboarded express of Collett carriages still in chocolate & cream livery. The older, panelled carriages in the Up bay are in the same livery.

In the background, the station is as remodelled for five tears with the roof removed, the footbridge given overhead cover, and awnings added (for details see the Banbury Station topic). My apologies for the tilt but fixing it would have lost too much around the edges. Mr. Casserley, what were you playing at?! 15th March 1952. Photo: H.C. Casserley.

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By 1952 only a handful of ex-GWR "Saints" remained in service (the last was withdrawn in October 1953), and No 2920 "Saint David" was chosen for a farewell tour, the SLS Saint David Tour. Although it's not all that visible, the loco was in BR lined black, mixed traffic livery, and is entering Banbury's No 1 platform. The Collett coaches are still in ex-GWR chocolate & cream livery. 15th June 1952. Photo: W.A. Brown.

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A second view of the SLS Special with No 2920 "Saint David" at the head. A fine-looking Class that led to the "Halls", note the original Churchward cab. 15th June 1952. Photo: Real Photos.

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When a batch of "Britannias" was built for the Western Region, many were initially allocated to Old Oak Common and tried on the expresses between Paddington and Birmingham with in the event, limited success. They all ended up at Cardiff Canton. Here, sometime around 1952, is 70020 Mercury drawing out of the station past Banbury North Signal Box. My apologies for the quality but the photographer was shooting straight into the sun, or at least the bright sky where it would have been! Photo: R.K.Blencowe Negative Archive.

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70020 Mercury draws away, past Banbury North Signal Box and the marshalling yards. c1952. Photo: R.K.Blencowe Negative Archive.

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Trees gradually obstructed this view from Spiceball Park just north of the station but on a winter's day in 1953, it was virtually clear. "Castle" No 5034 Corfe Castle from Reading is in charge of a Down cross-country express made up with ex-SR carriages. January 1953. Photo: A.W.V. Mace collection.

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A bright sunny evening sees Stafford Road's "Castle" No 5022 Wigmore Castle sweep past the marshalling yard with a nameboarded Up express made up with Collett stock. Casting smoke across the scene is Banbury's 57xx No 5724. It's coupled to something, but not enough can be seen for me to tell. Photo: R.K.Blencowe Negative Archive.

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By the mid-1950s the "Dukedog" class was getting thin on the ground and the Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway (SMJ) was nearing closure when the Railway Enthusiasts Club (REC) organised "The South Midlander SMJR" tour on 24th April 1955, behind No 9015, which at the time, was allocated to Camarthen. Starting from Oxford, the train went through Banbury (and is seen here approaching Banbury South). The SMJ was gained at Fenny Compton, running the whole line to the west to Broom. Then it went on the ex-MR line to Evesham, and via Moreton-in-the-Marsh back to Oxford. The last passenger service to use the line was an SLS rail tour in April 1965. Photo: F.A.Blencowe.

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Passing Banbury North Signal Box on 27th August 1955 with "The Cambrian Coast Express" is No 7001 Sir Jame Milne (Old Oak Common). The loco had been built in 1946 as Denbigh Castle, but was renamed in 1948. The headboard shows nicely. On the curve it is hard to tell how much of the train had been modernised for the leading two coaches are Hawksworth's. Photo: F.A.Blencowe.

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An interesting view with the signals "off" in both directions shows part of the goods platform at the south end of the station before rebuilding in 1956, and Banbury South Signal Box in the distance. Oxford's "Modified Hall" No 7911 Lady Margaret Hall is running in with a Down express which appears to be made up with five, ex-GWR Collett coaches.

On the Up line a more modern, Hawksworth coach can be seen with the distinctive, long carriage roofboard stating "PADDINGTON BIRMINGHAM SHREWSBURY CHESTER AND BIRKENHEAD. There was probably a "King" on the train. 8th October 1955. Photo: F.A.Blencowe.

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After the station was rebuilt in 1956

Heading south past the gasworks on Friday, 27th June 1958, is Banbury's Churchward 2-6-0 No 5306. It had taken over a train from the ER (via the GC London Extension and the Banbury Branch), probably a summer extra for the south coast.

The mixture of carriages is typical of extra trains and excursions with>

- 3rd brake (Thompson)
- 3rd (Gresley 61'6")
- 3rd (Gresley 52'6")
- 1st/3rd (Gresley 61'6")
- buffet car? (Thompson)

Note the short Gresley, originally built for the GE Section and eventually dispersed. Beyond them appears to be a Thompson catering coach, a buffet, perhaps? Photo: F.A.Blencowe.

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One of Banbury's "Halls", No 5921 Bingley Hall" is leaving the station past Banbury North Signal Box on Monday, 4th May 1959 with an unidentified express carrying destination boards. The leading two carriages may have been in maroon livery but I suspect that they were green and that this a cross-country express off the SR after a loco change at Banbury. Would I be sticking my neck out too far to suggest that the long words on the visible destination boards were "Newcastle-Bournemouth" (or vice versa)? Photo: F.A.Blencowe.

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The 1960s

The station at Banbury had only been rebuilt a few years earlier when this picture was taken off the road overbridge with the new No 1 platform to the right and revised goods platform where a secondary 3-set is parked, comprising two gangwayed Colletts, with a brake-ended one in the middle, and a BR Mk.1 on the rear, probably a CK.

Pausing at the Down main platform (No 3 at the time) is a 10-coach express hauled by Laira's 6016, King Edward V. Behind the tender are three Big Four carriages, beginning with a strengthener, a Collett SK, in carmine and cream. Next is the head of the train proper, beginning with two Staniers in maroon, followed by a BR Mk.1, probably in chocolate & cream. The remainder is out of sight, possibly a train to Birkenhead? Tuesday, 19th April 1960. Photo: Collection S.V.Blencowe.

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One of Old Oak Common's "Kings", No 6003 King George IV is at the Up main platform with an express, presumably Bikenhead-Paddington via the Bicester cut-off, on 30th July 1960. This being a summer Saturday, it's no surprise to see three strengthening coaches and at least one bogie van behind the tender, all ex-GWR, led by a Collett steel-panelled BSK(5).

Greg Scott has been in touch to say that the fading hand-painted code on the smokebox door, "V07" was not as I thought, a relic of the loco having been used on an excursion, but actually "1V07", which was the code for the Bikenhead-Paddington. Thanks, Greg. :) Photo: R.J. Buckley, Initial Photographics.

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New additions from here - This picture doesn't really belong in the "expresses" section but it's a marvellous memory of Banbury from the early sixties, around 1960-62, when relatively little had changed but for the new station. In the foreground, by No 1 platform, Banbury's "Hall" No 6929 Whorlton Hall has been signalled to pass light engine between the loco depot and the yards.

In the Down Bay, No 2 Platform at the time, the station pilot (carrying lights over each buffer) is Banbury's "Hall" No 5990 Dosford Hall, sitting at the head of assorted stock. Not all is sufficiently visible, this is my best estimate, from behind the tender:

SK

gangwayed 2nd

BR Mk.1

C ?

non-gangwayed composite?

BR Mk.1

S

non-gangwayed 2nd

ex-LNER Gresley or Thompson

CCT

4-wheel

BR Mk.1

?

?

ex-LMS

A tender loco was used for station pilot duties, also acting as stand-by in case of failure on the main line.

Further over, stands the train for Woodford Halse, now made up with ex-LMS gangwayed carriages, headed by Woodford's L1 No 67789. Photo: Milepost 92 1//2.

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Waiting to get away with an Up express at the south end of the station on a dingy day in April is Wolverhampton Stafford Road's "Castle", No 5045 Earl of Dudley. Originally named Bridgwater Castle but renamed soon after construction, this was to be its last year of service, withdrawal coming in September. 23rd April 1962. Photo: F.A. Blencowe.

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Before the lineside trees spread along the trackside a good view was possible from the park as northbound trains set off past Banbury North signal box and, in another scene from 23rd April 1962, Wolverhampton's No 6014 King Henry VII is getting under way with a Down express. Photo: F.A. Blencowe.

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It's a summer Saturday evening and Oxley's "Grange" No 6864 Dymock Grange is at the head of an excursion with the fireman up on the tender, bringing coal forward. The reporting number is skew-whiff but the letter "M" is present and the carriages that can be seen are ex-LMS Staniers. A returning excursion from the Midland, perhaps? 13th July 1963. Photo: F.A. Blencowe.

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Another summer Saturtday, a fortnight after the picture with Dymock Grange was taken, Oxford's "Hall", No 5987 Brocket Hall gets away with another excursion or possibly a relief. The two coaches at the head look like strengtheners made up with ex-LMS Staniers but, behind them it's possible to make out ex-LNER carriages, a Thompson BSK and possibly a CK, followed by a Gresley. This may have been an extra off the GC line for Bournemouth with a change of loco at Banbury. Photo: Collection R.K. Blencowe.

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The curvature of the lines through Banbury station has foxed many a photographer, such as this "Castle" and its train leaning as they swing into the platforms behind Oxley's No 5026 Criccieth Castle with an Up express. The safety valves are blowing off after the long descent from Fenny Compton and it's hard tell if this express is going to stop or run straight through.

The origin and formation of the train are interesting for the leading coach is a BR Mk.1 composite and, behind it, an ex-LNER Gresley brake composite and at least two more Gresleys. It may appear to be a train off the GC line but "Castles" were not normally allowed there and it is known that the WR began using ex-LNER carriages because, unlike ex-GWR carriages, they coupled directly with BR Mk.1 stock. Photo: F.A. Blencowe.

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To be continued...

Banbury station pictures are here.

Banbury yards and freight pictures are here.

Banbury loco shed pictures are here.

Banbury light engines are here.

Banbury signal box pictures are here.

Ardley-Greaves Siding limestone traffic pictures are here.

Banbury Merton Street station is here.

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