Windsor and Eton Central railway station


Windsor and Eton Central railway station

Infobox UK station
name = Windsor and Eton Central


caption = The end of the branch line from Slough: the truncated Platform 1, with the towers of Windsor Castle visible in the background.
manager = First Great Western
locale = Windsor
borough = Windsor and Maidenhead
years = 1849
1897
events = Opened
Rebuilt
platforms = 1
usage0405 = 1.352
usage0506 = 1.309

Windsor and Eton Central station is one of two terminal stations serving the town of Windsor in Berkshire, England. Although a small part still functions as a railway station, the station structure has largely been converted into a tourist oriented shopping centre, known as Windsor Royal Shopping. It is situated on the High Street, almost immediately opposite Castle Hill, the main public entrance to Windsor Castle.

The station is served by a shuttle service of trains from Slough operated by First Great Western and is the terminus of its Windsor Branch. It should not be mistaken for the nearby Windsor and Eton Riverside station, which is the terminus for the South West Trains service from London Waterloo station.

History

:"See also: the Windsor Branch line"

The station opens

It is thought that the branch was built for Queen Victoria's convenience travelling between Windsor Castle and London.Fact|date=April 2007

The Windsor Station opened on 8th October 1849, on the completion of the branch line from Slough, but only after considerable opposition from the powers at Eton College, who were convinced that the proximity of a railway would lead the Eton boys astray."The Subterranean Railway" - Christian Wolmar - ISBN 1-84354-023-1]

Originally trains ran to various destinations including Basingstoke and Paddington.Fact|date=April 2007

The Metropolitan and District railways

When, in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway opened the world's first underground railway, between Paddington and Farringdon Street in the City of London, the Great Western Railway ran regular through services to Windsor from Farringdon (initially these were broad gauge trains, as the original Metropolitan was laid for mixed standard and broad gauges, and, for some months, the engines and coaches were hired from the GWR). By 1865, there were ten trains daily on this route."The Subterranean Railway" - Christian Wolmar - ISBN 1-84354-023-1]

Not to be out-done, the Metropolitan District Railway was expanding its services to the west of London as fast as it could. Hence, in 1883 they started a service to Windsor from Mansion House, using the GWR mainline. These trains were not popular - possibly because of the unsuitability of using four-wheel coaches for the non-stop section between Ealing Broadway and Slough, and possibly because Windsor was too affluent and too far from the City (at the time) to make commuting an attractive proposition. The service was discontinued within two years."The Subterranean Railway" - Christian Wolmar - ISBN 1-84354-023-1]

The structure

The station is approached by a 2035-yard brick viaduct and Windsor Railway Bridge, Brunel's oldest surviving railway bridge. The original building was little more than a glorified train shed. This was completely rebuilt by the GWR for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, with a much grander frontage and an interior reminiscent of Paddington. Two island platforms and a bay on the south side were provided.

The goods yard

To the north of the station, a large goods yard was laid out between the station and the River Thames at 'ground level'. Since the station was built on a viaduct at the same height as the Castle, the yard had to be reached by a steep incline, which limited the number of wagons that could be transferred to and from the sidings in one go. In addition to serving the populace of Windsor and surrounding area, the yard provided a connection to Windsor Gas Works; a siding was laid through one of the bridge arches in order to supply the works with loads of coal, and remove loads of coke and tar.

Decline

On 17 November 1968 platforms 3 and 4 were taken out of use, and on 5 September 1969 platform 2 was also decommissioned. Later on, the remaining platform was also truncated, twice - at each rebuild of the station.

The Tussauds years

In 1982 British Rail and Madame Tussauds restored the station, creating an exhibition called "Royalty and Railways". (It was later renamed "Royalty and Empire"). A full-size replica steam engine "The Queen" was built at Swindon Works, and this was combined with an ex-LBSCR tender (in later life, a sludge tanker at Guildford loco depot) and a couple of Pullman carriages, to form a replica of the Royal Train - a major feature of the attraction.

Unfortunately, the exhibition closed in the late 1990s, and almost all of the exhibits were taken away. Locomotive "The Queen" was too expensive to remove, and so, rather than being cut up, it was instead incorporated as a feature of a restaurant on the concourse. Tragically, the tender - the only original (and historic) part of the replica engine - was sold to a scrap dealer and cut up, although the springs and axleboxes were salvaged for use in the replica LBSCR Atlantic project at the Bluebell Railway, and part of one side was rescued by the Slough & Windsor Railway Society, where it is now on display.

The station today

After the exhibition closed in the 1990s, the station was turned into a shopping complex called "Windsor Royal Shopping". The single platform was truncated still further, and can now handle no more than a three-coach train.

When freight services were stopped in the 1960s, the goods yard and incline were removed. The yard is now a coach park, but on the side of the viaduct it is still possible to see where the incline was sited.

Services

Windsor and Eton Central station is served by a First Great Western operated shuttle service from Slough station. At Slough, connection is made with the same company's stopping and semi-fast commuter services between London Paddington and Reading. The shuttle service runs every 20 minutes during peak commute times, and every half hour at other times. The journey to or from Slough takes 6 minutes, and typical journey times to Reading and Paddington are 20 and 30 minutes respectively.cite web | url = http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/Content.aspx?id=3 | title = Train Times | publisher = First Great Western | accessdate = April 12 | accessyear = 2007]

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Disused Railways

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References

External links

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