Midsomer Murders History Header Railways

Midsomer’s Old Railways


(Caution: Contains spoilers for Episode: 08×01: Things That Go Bump in the Night)

Railways Britain
Map of the London and North Western Railway and Caledonian Railway systems, about 1900. Public Domain. (Click to enlarge it.)

Joyce and Tom Barnaby are guests of Elizabeth Key in Fletcher’s Cross. They go out of the cottage into the garden. Elizabeth Key carries a tray with three cups and saucers, sugar bowl and creamer. Joyce carries the teapot in her hand. The two women walk side by side in front, Tom Barnaby with his hands in his trousers behind.

The Barnabys admire the garden and the location and Elizabeth Key enlightens them that back then in Victorian times, there was a railway just behind a row of trees near the house. Joyce is startled and apparently imagines express trains. But back then they were only steam locomotives, of course. However, the line was later closed.

Now, the railway is to be partially restored and Fletcher’s Cross Station reopened. We learn later at the railway inauguration festival that it is mainly thanks to James Griss! But he is not quite respected in Fletcher’s Cross because he is a bit of a show-off.

Barnabys and Elizabeth Key sit down at a small table and set it and talk about Elizabeth’s parents and the upcoming meeting of the Spirit of Friendship Group. Just before the scene change, you hear the rattle and toot of a steam locomotive, but you don’t see it.

A steam locomotive is also seen in Great Worthy in another episode (14×03: Echos of the dead), but without any further information about the railway system there.

 

Fancy a travel through time and Midsomer?
Midsomer’s Old Railways is just a glimpse into the full history of Midsomer – want to see the full chronology?

Then click here.

 

Old, new railway stations

The episode takes up a rather topical theme – both at the time of filming and the first broadcast and today. In the 19th century, the construction of railways was booming, even in rural areas, but in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, many of these railways were closed down because they were no longer lucrative enough.

Especially since the turn of the millennium, there have been repeated initiatives to reopen these disused stations. Though the plans always fail to materialise because demand remains too low or costs too much to open. And that is also the difficulty in Fletcher’s Cross. That’s why James Griss is talking to potential investors.

Some former railway stations become museums – like Quainton Road Railway Station, now Buckingham Railway Centre. Fletcher’s Cross station was filmed there. The name of the village is Old English for Queen’s Estate. It presumably refers to the estates of Edith, who was the wife of King Edward the Confessor.

A good 800 years later, in 1860, the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway Company was founded and the line opened 8 years later. Initially it only connected the Wycombe Railway (Maidenhead-Abingdon) in Aylesbury to the south and the Verney Junction of the Buckinghamshire Railway (Bletchley-Banbury-Oxford) to the north. In 1899 a junction was added to the north just beyond Quainton station, linking the line with the Great Central Main Line (Sheffield-London).

Unlike the connection from Fletcher’s Cross to Causton, the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway had no connection to Wallingford, 30 miles (about 50 km) away, which is known to be the filming location for Causton.

 

Quainton Road Railway Station

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Ravenseft: Quainton Road Railway Station, Buckinghamshire, 2008. CC-BY SA 2.0.

Quainton Road Railway Station was one of six stops on the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway. Although it opened in 1868, it was not worthwhile in this underpopulated area and yet it was probably the most important stop on the line. It had a special status because the Brill Tramway started here – or ended here, depending on which way you were travelling.

The Brill Tramway’s main purpose was not to transport people, but goods. The Dukes of Buckingham were all interested in railway construction and this new means of transport. Their new estate, Waddesdon Manor, was being planned and was to have its own railway station nearby. Because of lobbying, the planned line was extended to Brill.

The tramway overcame a first financial decline of the line due to newer and faster connections to London and the north of England, as it was modernised and the trains now travelled 7.5 mi/h (12 km/h) instead of 4 mi/h (6.4 km/h). This meant that goods were now taken from Brill to Quainton in 40 minutes.

The tramway became part of the London Metropolitan Railway. Therefore part of the London Underground even as late as 1933, although 40 mi (64 km) from London and this train route was anything but underground. But two years later it was over. When the last train left Brill Station on its way to Quainton on 30 November 1935, hundreds of people watched and some members of the Oxford University Railway Society travelled from Oxford to get a last ticket.

 

A new life as a museum and well-known film location

After the Brill Tramway was closed, Quainton Road Railway Station also lost its importance. However, the station was closed to passengers in 1963 and to local goods in 1966. Three years later the Quainton Road Society was formed with the aim of preserving the station and started The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre as a museum. In 1971 the London Railway Preservation Society took over its collection of historic railway equipment, which included many locomotives, and passenger and non-passenger rolling stock.

Thanks to the society, Quainton Road is one of the best preserved railway stations in England. It is also still part of the railway network and can be booked for special events. As a film location it was not only used for Midsomer Murders, but also for Doctor Who and other films and shows.

 

Read more about Midsomer Murders & History

The Chronology of Midsomer County by Year or by EpisodesDeep Dives into Midsomer & History.

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Further readings

The Rail Map Online maps historic transport maps and lists the so many railways in the UK, most of which no longer exist today. See: https://RailMapOnline.com/

 

Literature

  • Oppitz, Leslie: Lost Railways of The Chilterns. Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire. Newbury 2017.

 

Recommend my website or give some feedback

     

    I would like to point out that this is an unofficial fan site and I am not connected to Bentley Productions, ITV or the actors.

    Petra Tabarelli has studied history and has earned an international reputation as an expert on the history and development of football rules. But she is also a big fan of Midsomer Murders - and that's why this website about history and nostalgia in and around Midsomer exists. She was looking for such a website, couldn't find it, so she created it. For others who, like her, are looking for the website, and now can find it.

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