Cholsey and Wallingford Railway

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Cholsey and Wallingford Railway
02I05I2015 CWR Steam Event C3.jpg
Peckett 0-4-0ST 'Northern Gas Board No. 1' runs round the train at Cholsey
Commercial operations
Built byWallingford and Watlington Railway
Original gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Operated byCholsey and Wallingford Railway
Length2+12 mi (4 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Closedpassenger 1959
freight 1965/1981
Preservation history
1985Initial service
1997Full service
Cholsey and
Wallingford Railway
(original site)
Hithercroft Road
Bradford's Brook
Church Road
Great Western Main Line
Left arrow Didcot ParkwayReading Right arrow
Cholsey railway station from street level; the Cholsey and Wallingford branch platform is at upper level to right of building

The Cholsey and Wallingford Railway is a 2+12-mile (4 km) long standard gauge heritage railway in the English county of Oxfordshire. It operates along most of the length of the former Wallingford branch of the Great Western Railway (GWR), from Cholsey station, 12 miles (19 km) north of Reading on the Great Western Main Line, to a station on the outskirts of the nearby town of Wallingford.[1]


Platform level at Cholsey station, with the terminus of the Cholsey and Wallingford line to the left

The first proposals for the Cholsey to Wallingford line date from 1861, and envisaged an independently owned route from Cholsey to Princes Risborough via Wallingford, Benson, Watlington and Chinnor. This line would have been a through route, with junctions with the Great Western Railway at Cholsey and the Wycombe Railway at Princes Risborough. In 1862, a Bill was presented to Parliament for a short branch from Cholsey to Wallingford, but this was withdrawn early in 1863, before it had come up for consideration.[2] It was replaced by the Wallingford and Watlington Railway Bill which was passed by Parliament in July 1864.

The W&WR opened as far as Wallingford on 2 July 1866.[note 1][3][4] Unfortunately, two months earlier, in May 1866, the Overend, Gurney & Co bank had crashed, causing the severest financial crisis of the nineteenth century. The Bank Rate was raised to 10%, making it impossible for the W&WR to raise the capital for its planned continuation to Watlington. In 1871, Parliament consented to the railway abandoning its plans for the line beyond Wallingford. The company was sold to the GWR in 1872.

The railway became popularly known as the Wallingford Bunk. The Curator of the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway Museum attributes the following story to the late Mrs Harold Gale. "Around the turn of the century, the loco did a 'bunk'. It left Cholsey station without its coaches. Harold and Len Gale, returning from football in Reading, had uncoupled the loco while it waited in the bay platform."

The line closed to passengers in 1959, and the last British Rail goods traffic into the old Wallingford Station ran in 1965.[2] However most of the line was retained to serve the maltings adjacent to the railway to the south of Hithercroft Road, Wallingford. Rail service to this plant ceased in 1981 when BR removed the junction at Cholsey. The Cholsey and Wallingford Railway Preservation Society was then formed to conserve the line for tourist services. It first ran train rides for the public in 1985, with regular advertised services over the full available length of the line beginning in 1997. Steam traction has also been reintroduced.[2]


Most services on the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway are currently hauled by the resident diesel locomotives with visiting steam locomotives for special events. Trains run on weekends and bank holidays between April and September, and at Halloween and Christmas. The railway's web site has details of operating days.

The original branch platform at Cholsey station is now used by the CWR, and trains connect there with Great Western Railway stopping services on the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Didcot stations.

The original Wallingford railway station and the last segment of the line have long been built on, and the old station site is now crossed, ironically, by Beeching Way. The line now terminates at a makeshift station which is the railway's headquarters on Hithercroft Road (formerly known as Old Moor Lane). The new station is adjacent to the site of the maltings that kept the line alive into the preservation era. The maltings were demolished early in the new millennium and replaced by housing, releasing some extra land to the railway. The CWR plans to build a permanent station when resources are available.[5]

Rolling stock[edit]


The line is the home to several diesel locomotives, including three of British Rail's ubiquitous Class 08 shunters, which are used on most trains. Steam also currently operates on the railway, by locomotives Peckett 2142 and 6515 Isebrook.


  • British Rail Class 08 0-6-0DE 08 022 Lion, ex-Guinness Brewery, Park Royal, London (Operational, August 2022) (DE = diesel-electric)
  • British Rail Class 08 0-6-0DE 08 060 Unicorn, ex-Guinness Brewery, Park Royal, London (Operational, August 2022)
  • British Rail Class 08 0-6-0DE 08 123 George Mason (Operational, August 2022)
  • Peckett & Sons 0-4-0ST Works No 2142 Northern Gas Board No 1, owned by the Darlington Railway Preservation Society. (Operational, August 2022)
  • 12 Sentinel 0-4-TST Sentinel Works No 6515, privately owned. (Operational, August 2022)

Not operational[edit]


Carriage and wagon[edit]

The line has a varied collection of passenger carriages and freight wagons.[6]



  1. ^ In An Illustrated History of the Wallingford Branch, Karau and Turner say Monday, 7 July 1866, as does Jenkins in Oxfordshire Railways Through Time, but this includes a calendar error and is contradicted by contemporary press reports in Jacksons Oxford Journal, referenced below, London Evening Standard and Oxford Times.


  1. ^ "About The Line". Cholsey and Wallingford Railway. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "History". Cholsey and Wallingford Railway. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  3. ^ Jacksons Oxford Journal, Saturday, 7 July 1866
  4. ^ Karau, Paul; Turner, Chris (1982). An Illustrated History of the Wallingford Branch. Upper Bucklebury: Wild Swan Publications. p. 7, col. 2. ISBN 0-906867-10-X.
  5. ^ "Projects". Cholsey and Wallingford Railway. Archived from the original on 29 July 2007. Retrieved 8 April 2007.
  6. ^ "Locomotives and Rolling Stock List". Cholsey and Wallingford Railway. Retrieved 27 December 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°35′52″N 1°08′05″W / 51.59769°N 1.13472°W / 51.59769; -1.13472