As far as the railway historian is concerned, this is a station that has fallen on hard times. Wraysbury, located upon the branch line from Staines to Windsor & Eton Riverside, today portrays a desolate air. Meagre sideless waiting shelters are the only structures of note on each platform, the 19th Century buildings having long since been razed. Indeed, only the bricks of the platforms and road bridge remain from those early days, and the station is a basic utilitarian stop 21-miles 40-chains from Waterloo. Of course, it is not all bad, and the station enjoys a half-hourly service to London throughout the day during the week.
The London & South Western Railway (LSWR) began running scheduled passenger services to Richmond on 25th July 1846, when the line to there from Clapham Junction was brought into use. An extension of the Richmond branch to Windsor was carried out under the auspices of an independent concern by the name of the “Windsor, Staines, and South Western Railway”. In the Windsor and Eton Express on 29th July 1848, an experimental trip along the fifteen-mile branch from Richmond to Datchet by the directors of the independent company was recounted; it was reported that the branch gave rise to few, if any, engineering difficulties, for there were no deep cuttings nor high embankments. Additionally, it was remarked that intermediate stations were provided at Twickenham, Feltham, Ashford, Staines, and “Wyrardisbury” (today, “Wraysbury”). With reference to Staines, the same newspaper piece stated: “…the station and engine houses are, as is the case along the entire line, temporary”. Therefore, perhaps the earliest incarnations of the stations on the Richmond to Datchet line were economical wooden affairs, with more sturdy buildings being erected at a later time. This source also gives credence to an entry in Clinker's Register (1980), which indicates that today's Wraysbury station is not the original that opened with the line: a closure date of 1st April 1861 is cited for an earlier site.
The double-track section from Richmond to Datchet was opened to scheduled passenger traffic on Tuesday, 22nd August 1848. The Wraysbury station that eventually came into being — the site at which today’s platform’s exist — served a village with a population of 672 according to the census of 1841, and at that time was situated in the county of Buckinghamshire. Two brick-built platforms were in evidence, either side of the line. A plain single-storey brick-built station structure was provided on the “up” (Staines-bound) platform, which comprised a hipped slated roof, but was shorn of any canopy. On the “down” platform, a small timber waiting shelter was in evidence. Photographs from around the turn of the century show a footbridge to be linking the platforms, situated immediately north of the station buildings; your author suspects that this was not a feature from the early years, and passengers either used the adjacent road bridge (provided with staircases down to the station) or crossed on the level.
The 1896 Ordnance Survey edition shows that the goods yard was situated behind the “up” platform. This comprised a trio of sidings that made a trailing connection with the “up” line, as illustrated in the accompanying diagram. In the earliest years, one of the sidings passed through the goods shed and terminated at a wagon turntable. A refuge siding, complete with head shunt, also existed on the “down” side and terminated behind the platform. The layout was controlled from a LSWR Type 2 signal box, which your author estimates appeared some time during the 1880s, a period when many railway companies updated their signalling to more advanced systems.
Notable alterations were made to Wraysbury under Southern Railway (SR) ownership. On 6th July 1930, regular electric services between Waterloo and Windsor commenced, the SR continuing the LSWR’s programme of electrifying suburban lines. As part of this scheme, canopies were erected on both platforms at Wraysbury (ref: The Railway Magazine, August 1930). The canopies were upward-sloping, with plain timber valances, and built to a standard SR design; that on the “down” side was attached to the existing waiting shelter; similarly, the “up” side canopy was affixed to the main building. Such was the length of the “up” side canopy that it occupied the area once used by the footbridge; therefore, your author suspects that it was at this time that the footbridge was taken down and the adjacent road bridge used for passage between the platforms thereafter. Concrete fencing was installed along the rears of both platforms and bracket lampposts of the same material erected.
Naturally, the British Railways (BR) era heralded rationalisation at the site. First to go were goods facilities, which were withdrawn effective from 13th August 1962 (ref: Clinker’s Register, 1980). On 14th March 1965, the signal box closed (ref: Southern Railway Register Section R17: Staines Junction to Windsor, Signalling Record Society), but the sidings had already been lifted by that time. The station buildings were still standing in September 1979, but by 1987 all structures upon the platforms had been demolished. On the former site of the main “up” side building, a red brick waiting shelter was erected; conversely, the “down” platform went without any replacement structure, the only protection from the elements being underneath the road bridge that passed over. In about 1990, the “down” platform became a recipient of a sideless shelter; as of summer 2010, the “up” side brick waiting shelter was still in evidence, but had been demolished by summer 2016. The latter was replaced by the same style of shelter as that on the “up” side. The transformation of Wraysbury was complete.
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© David Glasspool
5th February 1967
The SR “down” side canopy can just be seen on the left of this view, which depicts Bulleid Light Pacific No. 34100 “Appledore” hauling “The South Western Suburban Rail Tour” of the Locomotive Club of Great Britain, Staines-bound. As the name implies, the tour traversed the suburban lines of the South Western Division, which included Windsor, Hampton Court, Shepperton, and Chessington branches, and went as far west as Reading. In the background can be seen the road bridge, complete with staircases, that forms a walking route between the platforms. On the right is a Ford Prefect 100E, behind which is a loading gauge that marks the former entry to the “up” side goods yard. All sidings had by this time been lifted, but on the left still existed a coal merchant, “Ford & Co”, behind the “down” platform.
© David Glasspool Collection
5th February 1967
No. 34100 is seen with the same rail tour as that shown in the previous photograph, this time passing over the bridge south of the station that carries the rails across “Colne Brook”. The latter is sprouted by the River Colne in Uxbridge and flows into the Thames at Staines.
© David Glasspool Collection