A local passenger train in LMS days hauled by an ex-LNWR goods locomotive, running from Cambridge to Bedford, passing under Long Road bridge, Trumpington. Reproduced with permission from Middleton Press.
Edmund Brookes gives an enthusiast’s history of the development of these lines and the complex relationships between the companies that built the routes and services. He describes how the line from Liverpool Street to Cambridge opened by 1845 and was joined by the line from Kings Cross to Cambridge in 1851. The line from Bedford to Cambridge opened in 1862, running alongside the London route on the approach to Cambridge station.
Edmund Brookes writes about the closure of the Bedford-Cambridge line . F reight and passenger services were withdrawn on 8 December 1968. The track was removed in 1969 and the route became a nature corridor . This was particularly apparent in the railway cutting between Hauxton Road, Shelford Road and the allotments, with trees growing on the embankment and wildlife colonising the stream and grassy areas. The cutting was used as an informal footpath from the 1970s, as was the rest of the route to Long Road. A water pipe to irrigate farmland was laid in the cutting for Trumpington Farm Company in the 1970s. A major gas main was then installed through the cutting from August 1985 . T he Cambridgeshire Guided Busway was constructed along the route from the Park & Ride site to Cambridge station from 2008-10, with the Busway open ing in 2011. The Residents’ Association has a diary of the construction of the busway .
Allen, Cecil J. (1955). Great Eastern Railway . Shepperton: Ian Allan.
Bonavia, Michael R. (1996). The Cambridge Line . Shepperton: Ian Allan.
Fellows, Reginald B. (1976a). London to Cambridge by Train 1845-1938 . Cambridge: Oleander Press.
Fellows, Reginald B. (1976b). Railways to Cambridge. Actual and Proposed . Cambridge: Oleander Press.
Grinling, Charles H. (1898). History of the Great Northern Railway . George Allen & Unwin.
Mitchell, Vic and Mott, Allan (2006). Potters Bar to Cambridge . Midhurst: Middleton Press.
Mitchell, Vic and Smith, Keith (2007). Bletchley to Cambridge . Midhurst: Middleton Press.
Simpson, William (1983). Oxford to Cambridge Railway. Vol. 2: Bletchley to Cambridge . Poole: Oxford Publishing.
Warren, Alan and Phillips, Ralph (1987). Cambridge Station. A Tribute . : British Rail.
Cambridge Railway Station (Wikipedia).
Val Burden (née Valerie Charge) has added similar recollections of the fields and railway. Val has lived in New Zealand for many years, but her family moved into 112 Paget Rd when the house was new and lived there for 25 years, so she has many memories of Trumpington. She writes (May 2011) “I was very interested in your photographs especially the one of the fields along the track to Addenbrooke’s. We walked our dog along there (no Addenbrooke’s at the time) and he was forever running into the fields to dig up moles, we would chase after him only to be accosted by the farmer, Mr Cornwall, who was not amused to see us in his field of Friesians with a dog, you could get great mushrooms from there as well. There used to be a copse on the field with an enormous rookery in it but I expect that is long gone? The two railway lines were great for train spotting and in the summer sparks from the steam trains would set the corn alight and the fire engine would come screaming along Paget Road to put it out. Eventually realising you couldn’t win against a steam engine, lucerne – or perhaps alfalfa – was planted in a wide band next to the line as it would stay green and alas no more fire engines to add excitement to our lives.”
Extract from Bradshaw’s Railway Map, 1907 .
The removal of the railway track from the cutting to the east of Shelford Road bridge, 1969. Photo: Margaret Marrs, reproduced in Trumpington Past & Present , p. 22.
Laying the track for the Guided Busway to the east of Shelford Road bridge. Photo: Andrew Roberts, 21 September 2010.
Along the line of the old railway, looking north east from the crossing point with the track from the allotments to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, before work starts on the Guided Busway. Photo: Andrew Roberts, August 2007.
The line of the old railway, looking south from Long Road, before work starts on the Guided Busway. Photo: Andrew Roberts, July 2007.
The new guided busway track south of Long Road. Photo: Andrew Roberts, August 2009.
Looking north along the track bed for the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, by the crossing at the end of the old railway cutting. Photo: Andrew Roberts, June 2010.
In his recollection of railway and bus services in Trumpington, Barry Clarke writes about running from his home in Shelford Road to watch the Bedford trains going through the cutting and cycling over the fields to see trains on the main line.
Brian Goodliffe remembers the railway lines as a boy and also his father’s experience as a tractor driver.
“Like most boys, standing by those wooden gates I was fascinated by the sheer size of the locomotives close-to and the length of the trains: some up to fourteen carriages long. In those days, if you bought a ticket you expected to have a seat; and trains normally had enough carriages to accommodate this. Children playing on the railways was as prevalent then as it is now. Except we had more sense than to try and deliberately cause damage, injury or derailment. One favourite pastime was to put a (pre-decimal) penny or halfpenny on the top of the rail to be run over by the next train that came along. Upon retrieving the coin, it would be squashed to much larger than its original diameter. You would add it to your collection of ‘treasures’, like boys in the blitz used to collect bits of shrapnel.”
“Long Road bridge was a favourite place to go train spotting. We’d congregate over the LNER lines as they were the most productive. Then someone would shout: “There’s one on the other line!” And we’d all run like stink to the other end of the bridge to try and get its number. Oh happy days!”
For more of Brian ‘ s recollections, see his Childhood Memories .
Track from Paget Road to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Clay Farm, Trumpington. Photo: Andrew Roberts, August 2007.
Margaret Marrs used the cross-county route long before she moved to livc in Trumpington. Writing in December 2010, she remembers “When I was a student (1948-1951), the route to Cambridge from the north was: Main line to Bletchley, then change trains for the line to Cambridge. It may have only been imagination, but it seemed as if the trains were scheduled so that one had a couple of hours to wait at Bletchley. Of course, this was the changing place for Oxford too. The Cambridge train stopped at every station, I think at the time the regular travellers could recite them from memory.”
“On one occasion I was coming from Lime Street, Liverpool, and something went wrong with the engine. There is an incline out of that station, so it was something like 3 hours before they could get the broken-down engine out of the way and a replacement produced. Of course there was no possibility of going to my aunt’s for an extra night, we had to keep term in those days. Obviously we were so late at Bletchley that our connection was long gone (similarly the Oxford train). I don’t know how many were going to Oxford, but I think there were only 5 of us for Cambridge, and a 3 carriage train was produced to complete our journey.”
The old railway cutting to the east of Shelford Road, before work starts on the Guided Busway. Heavily overgrown with brambles, shrubs and trees, 40 years after the line closed. Photo: Andrew Roberts, August 2007.
Railway lines shown on the Inland Revenue Land Value map for Trumpington, 1910-11 . Reproduced by permission of Cambridgeshire Archives, file 470/047, sheet XLVII.10.
The effect of ‘railway mania’ on Trumpington may have been much more marked than the two lines that eventually cut across the south and east of the parish. From 1836 to 1850, there were a number of proposals for railway lines into Cambridge which would have required a route through Trumpington and a second ‘Cambridge’ station to the north of the parish, but fortunately the Parliamentary Bills for these routes were all rejected.
The sites for proposed stations included Edelston’s Farm (Blackland Farm, now known as River Farm, at the west end of Latham Road), near Coe Fen, near The Leys and either side of the Botanic Gardens. The 1848 Bill by the Royston and Hitchin company and the 1850 Bill by the Great Northern Railway for the Shepreth to Cambridge line proposed a station close to the Botanic Gardens, while the 1851 Bill for the Great Northern Railway route from Shepreth to Cambridge had a proposed station adjacent to Silver Street. When the Bedford to Cambridge line was completed in 1862, the promoter agreed to share the existing Cambridge station and contribute to its rebuilding, but the initial plan had been to build a separate station on the Brooklands Avenue side of Hills Road (Bonovia, 1995, Fellows, 1976b, Warren and Phillips, 1987).
Writing in November 2010, David Stubbings added his memories of lineside fires, which “were a danger in the era of steam locomotives, as these engines could belch out red hot cinders, especially when working hard, and ignite wayside vegetation. I recall two periods in the 1940s when conflagrations occurred in the Parish of Trumpington.”
Looking east across the Trumpington Meadows parkland along the old railway line towards Hauxton Road. Photo: Andrew Roberts, December 2010.
The river and foundation of the old railway bridge on the east side of the river. Photo: Andrew Roberts, December 2010.
Jane Fairweather and her father have been researching the railway crossing and gatehouse on Long Road, Trumpington (April 2015). Jane’s great grandfather, Sam Fairweather, worked on the railways and was at one time the gatekeeper at Long Road.
Jane writes that the photograph was taken by Regent Studios, Cambridge, and probably dates from the 1920s. The photograph is of Jane’s great grandmother, Sarah Fairweather (née Charter), sitting outside the gatehouse. She had married Sam Fairweather in Cambridge in 1907. They had one son, Albert, born 1908. Sam joined the railway circa 1912 as a platelayer; he joined the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants in 1913. He was the gatekeeper at Long Road for a number of years, then they moved back to Cambridge. Sarah died in 1941 and Sam in 1974. In 1923, Albert gave his address as ‘Long Road’ when he started his apprenticeship at Reynolds. Jane’s grandparents, Albert Fairweather and Clara Seekings, married in Trumpington in 1932.
For a short period in 1922, there was a railway station in Trumpington, used for that year’s Royal Agricultural Society of England show. This was on a site to the north of Long Road, in the V-shaped gap between the London and Bedford railway lines. There is information about the station in Edmund Brooke’s page on the Railways of Trumpington and also on the Disused Stations web site.
There are proposals for a new railway station to serve the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, to be located between the Busway bridge and Addenbrooke’s Road bridge.