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Trainspotters in Oxford loved the days of steam and diesel

Trainspotters in Oxford loved the days of steam and diesel

These pictures from the Oxford Mail archives recall the 1960s when diesel trains were ushering in a new era of travel.

The photograph above shows tank engine No 3653 in the bay platform at Oxford having hauled a passenger train from Carterton through Witney to Oxford.

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The picture, right, shows the old and the new coming together – a diesel train entering the up platform and ending its journey possibly from Banbury.

On the left, we can just see the front of steam locomotive No 6111, which spent a long period based at the Oxford depot.

No 6111 and its fellow locomotives at the Oxford depot, codenamed 81F, ran local passenger services to Didcot, Princes Risborough, Banbury and Fairford (Gloucestershire).

Oxford Mail:

Oxford was in the Great Western zone, but attracted locomotives from other regions, making it an ideal location for trainspotters.

Passenger trains would arrive from and depart for Bournemouth hauled by Southern Region engines, while Midland Region would operate trains on the Oxford-Bletchley route and on some freight services.

The Oxford, Witney and Fairford route was a single track branch line, 22 miles long.

It was opened in two stages, the first in 1861 to connect Witney to the main line network, and the second in 1873.

It was intended to extend the line to Cheltenham, but Fairford was the final destination.

The junction with the main line was at Yarnton, north of Oxford.

The Great Western Railway took charge of the line from 1873. Passenger services were withdrawn by British Railways in 1962, with a goods service continuing to Witney until 1970.

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The intermediate stations on the route were at Cassington, Eynsham, South Leigh, Witney, Carterton, Alvescot, Kelmscott/Langford and Lechlade.

Another largely forgotten railway line is the one that ran from Oxford to Princes Risborough.

The first part from Princes Risborough to Thame opened in 1862, followed by a westward extension in 1864 to Kennington junction, where it joined the Oxford-Didcot line.

Trains called at Littlemore, Morris Cowley, Horspath, Wheatley, Tiddington, Thame, Towersey and Bledlow.

The western section has remained open for freight trains to serve the BMW plant at Cowley, and there is a possibility that passenger trains will run on this part in future.

The eastern section from Princes Risborough to Thame was kept open to serve an oil depot until 1991.

A £161m redesign of Oxford station is now being carried out by Network Rail.

The Botley Road remains closed until October as contractors reroute utility cables in advance of the creation of a new western entrance to the station.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.

  • June 25, 2023