The Other Carterton Railway Station
If you open up Google maps and type Carterton in the search window, you will get two towns. Carterton,
New Zealand, and Carterton, UK.
The Carterton in the UK
is 23 kilometres west of Oxford as the crow flies. It is the second to largest town in
the local government district West Oxfordshire which is part of the county of Oxfordshire. The population of Carterton UK in the 2011 census
was 15,769, about three times that of Carterton, NZ.
Both Cartertons have had railway stations. Carterton, NZ still has its station and it
is well used. Carterton, UK was less fortunate. The station was opened 1944
and closed a mere 18 years later. This article describes the Carterton, UK station and its history.
Railway Station: general
The Carterton, UK railway station
was opened October 2, 1944 to service the airforce base RAF Brize Norton
that had opened May 1937. The station was on the now defunct
East Gloucestershire Railway
(EGR) 1.3 kilometres south of Carteton. The station was closer to the village of
Black Bourton, population 266 in the 2011 census, than Carterton
and there had been some thought of calling the station Black Bourton.
The EGR opened January 14, 1873. The railway ran 23.5 kilometres from
Fairford station in the west to Witney passenger station (there was also a Witney goods yard) in the east.
West to east was called the up line and east to west the down line.
Table 1 lists the year of opening, the distance from the previous station, and the altitude of the
stations on the East Gloucestershire Line. The distances are taken mostly from the "Route" page of the
EGR website referenced above. The altitudes are those of the village
or town with the same name as the station.
||3 miles 418 yards
|Kelmscott and Langford
||2 miles 770 yards
||Altitude of Kelmscott
||2 miles 198 yards
|Brize Norton and Bampton
||1 mile 704 yards
||The station was originally called Bampton. The name was changed to Brize Norton and Bampton
May 1, 1940. The altitude is that of RAF Brize Norton.
||4 miles 1232 yards
Having seven stations on the line (from 1944) meant the average distance between stations was less
than four kilometres. Alvescot was very close to Carterton, just over 1.2 kilometres away. The
altitudes show the line was mostly flat.
The railway line continued on another 12 kilometres east from Witney through three stations to Witney Junction at Yarnton. The
line from Witney to Yarnton was called the
This railway was opened November 13, 1861.
The Great Western Railway
(GWR) worked the East Gloucestershire and Witney lines. The GWR absorbed the
EGR July 1, 1890; the Witney Railway sold out to the GWR on the same day.
From then on, the Fairford to Yarnton line was a branchline of the GWR.
Railway Station: specific
Figure 1 is a 1962 photograph of the station taken from a train, looking in the up direction which is towards Oxford.
Figure 1. 1962 photograph of the railway station in Carterton, UK. By Geoffrey Skelsey (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
The large building on the left is the station building. This was also the shelter for the up line. The Wikipedia
page on the Carterton, UK Station describes the building as 'an austere War Department-type structure resembling an RAF hut',
and goes on to say 'The front of the building was sheltered by a makeshift asbestos canopy'. The end wall facing
the photographer appears to be made of concrete blocks. The colour photograph
of the other end of the station building in 1979, 17 years after the station was closed,
shows concrete blocks for the top of the wall and bricks for the bottom of the wall.
The Google aerial image of the station shows that the station was approximately
36 metres long.
If we walk along the platform towards Oxford, we next encounter a small corrugated building set back from the platform.
The building has an arched roof and what appears to be an entrance on the side facing the tracks.
Continuing our walk, we next encounter a lower quadrant stop signal. After this we reach the end of the platform,
walk down its sloped end and go past the signal box on wooden planks. In the distance we see an over bridge. This was on an old road between Black
Bourton and Carterton.
The track nearest the platform is the mainline. The gauge is the standard four foot eight and one half inches, noticeably
larger than the three foot six inch gauge used in New Zealand. There are two short pieces of curved track beyond
the far end of the platform. The left curved track was intended to catch trains that went past the signal when the signal went past them.
The right curve track connects the main line to the track the train in the photograph is standing on. This latter track was a
loop that reconnected with the mainline behind the photographer.
There was a platform and a basic, corrugated iron shelter on the south side of the loop. Passengers on the down line boarded from
that platform. Passengers could cross between the two platforms using a ground-level wooden boardwalk, the profile
of which is visible in the photograph at the far end of the platform.
The station had four stop signals, three on the main line and one on the loop. Trains travelling
towards Oxford were controlled by a signal near the turnout for the loop and a signal, described
above, at the far end of the platform. Trains travelling towards Fairford were controlled by a
signal on the far side of the bridge when viewed from the station, and a signal at the end of the
loop behind the photographer.
There were no goods facilitites at Carterton because Alvescot station, 1.2 kilometre away, and Brize Norton and Brampton stations,
2.3 kilometres away, had goods facilities.
The station was well used until 1953 when RAF Brize Norton became a USAF base and the use of Carterton dropped off suddenly.
By June, 1958, there was just one freight train daily using the station. The passenger service fared better. In 1960,
there were five different passenger trains that stopped at Carterton on the way from Oxford (the down
direction). All trains continued
on to Fairford. One of these five trains did not run on Saturday and one ran on Saturday only. This meant four passenger trains a day
Monday to Saturday stopped at Carterton. There was no Sunday service. There was the same number of trains running on the
same days towards Oxford (the up direction). One of the trains originated in Carterton and not Fairford.
The Fairford to Yarnton branchline closed June 18, 1962 and with it all the stations on the line including Carterton.
Although the station closed, the station building and signal cabin were not pulled
down or destroyed by vandals. The station was taken over by local
farmers and was used first as a pig sty, then to store farm machinary, and is now a stable. The
signal cabin remained on the site until it was moved to the Swindon & Cricklade Railway March 1980.
The plan was to restore the signal box but the box had decayed too much and parts of the box were used to repair and
restore two signal boxes on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway.
The bridge at the Oxford end of the station is still in use.
Below in this section are links to photographs of the Carterton precinct, trains at the station and the road overbridge at the eastern
end of the station. All the photographs but one are available on the webpage
Martin Loader maintains as part of his website on the Fairford Branch Line.
The remaining photograph is available on the webpage that is part
of this website on the Whitney and East Gloucestershire Railways.
I have written a short description for each photograph. The information for these descriptions comes from my observations
as well as the descriptions for the photographs given on the two webpages referenced in the previous paragraph.
To simplify the wording of my descriptions I have assumed the tracks at Carterton station ran east west. In fact, they
ran southwest northeast.
- April 3, 1983. The bridge is of steel girder design and
has a span of twelve foot eight inches (3.86m).
Precinct and trains
- June 2, 1954.
A b/w photograph, taken from the up line platform and looking east along the line. The steam locomotive is 7411, a pannier tank 0-6-0, denoted
The semaphore signal for the up line at the eastern end of the platform shows up well, as does the grass between the sleepers on the up line.
- July, 1956.
Looking west along the line from near the eastern end of the platform for the down line. The photograph
shows part of the shelter on the down line.
- Mid 1950s.
A b/w photograph taken from near or on the semaphore signal by the signal box and looking west along the line. The locomotive
is 7404, a 0-6-0PT.
- Late May or early June, 1962.
Looking west along the line. A high resolution b/w photograph taken from the eastern side of the precinct.
- June 11, 1962.
Looking west along the line. A colour photograph taken from beyond the eastern end of the down platform. The reverse side
of the semaphore signal near the signal box is clearly visible, as is the southern side of the signal box.
- June 16, 1962.
Looking east along the line. A b/w photograph taken from near the western end of the up platform.
- Early 1960s.
Looking west along the line, no train present. A colour photograph taken from the road overbridge at the eastern end of the station.
Several interesting features are shown: the rods running along the southern side of the tracks that contect with the
turnout at the east end turnout, and in the distance the two semaphore signals at the western end of the station.
There have been calls to re-open the line from Oxford to Witney and Carterton.
dated January 21, 2012, in the Oxford Mail, reported
REOPENING the Rail link from Oxford to Witney and Carterton may be investigated under new county council plans.
The long-term proposal, which would cut traffic on the A40, is contained within a new council rail strategy outlining
its vision for the railways over the next 22 years.
(The county referred to here is Oxfordshire.)
The article listed two other justifications for re-opening the line. The connections with RAF Brize Norton would be improved,
and Witney and Carterton, the two largest towns in West Oxfordshire, would benefit from having a rail connection.
Comments on the suggestion were guarded.
The councillor behind the proposal said, "I would not expect any work on it in the
very near future. Oxford Station has got to take priority, and that will no doubt take all the funding for the next 10 years."
The leader of the West Oxfordshire District Council made a similar comment and went on to say,
"This was looked at in the late 1990s and a feasibility study was carried out when we were pushing for it. The result
was that costs were prohibitive. They were talking in excess of £100m and there were problems highlighted at Eynsham, South Leigh and Witney,
where the line had been built on." He went on to say "It is not without problems but there may be an economic business case
for something in the distant future. It has got to be a positive move on the county's part."
The chair of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group said: "From time to time people have thought about the possibility of reinstatment,
particularly with congestion on the A40 and the extent to which it could reduce that, but I have no idea what previous
infrastructure is still available. If anybody were to do a study, we would very much support it both from a connectivity point
of view, but also to take traffic off the A40 if you saw it as a Witney to Oxford shuttle."
- The Fairford Branch Line. Martin Loader
maintains an extensive website on the Fairford Branch Line. There are individual pages for each station on the
line, as well as pages entitled "History", "Railtours", "Plans", "Timetables", "Locomotive", "Ephemera",
"Bibliography", "Models", and "Links". The Ephemera page has photographs of ticket stubs, a 1861 letter,
a promotional flyer for an excursion from Paddington to Fairford, and a station truck label. The
Models page describes a model of the Fairford station built by Stephen Beck and Ian McEwan of Nelson,
New Zealand. Much of the content on the website was added by 2005.
- The Witney and East Gloucestershire Railway. This website
has pages entitled "Route", "Gallery & Video", "Closure", "Locomotive List", and "Links". The home
page contains useful background information.
The author thanks Martin Loader who answered some questions I had about the Carterton Railway Station.
March 4, 2017. Revised.
January 6, 2017. First version.