Dunstable Town railway station

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Dunstable Town
Dunstable Town railway station.jpg
Place Dunstable
Area Central Bedfordshire
Grid reference TL026219
Original company Luton, Dunstable and Welwyn Junction Railway
Pre-grouping Hertford, Luton and Dunstable Railway
Great Northern Railway
Post-grouping London, Midland and Scottish Railway
London Midland Region of British Railways
Platforms 1
3 May 1858 (1858-05-03) Opened as Dunstable Church Street
1 January 1927 Renamed Dunstable Town
7 December 1964 Goods facilities withdrawn
26 April 1965 Closed to passenger traffic
17 January 1987 Last train calls at station
Disused railway stations in the United Kingdom
Closed railway stations in Britain
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

Dunstable Town, also known as Dunstable Church Street, was a railway station on the Great Northern Railway's branch line from Welwyn which served Dunstable in Bedfordshire from 1858 to 1965. Against a background of falling passenger numbers and declining freight returns, the station closed to passengers in 1965 and to goods in 1964, a casualty of the Beeching Axe. The station site is now in use as part of the Luton to Dunstable Busway.


The Luton, Dunstable and Welwyn Junction Railway (LD&WJR) was authorised on 16 July 1855 and empowered the construction of a 5 miles 45 chains (9.0 kilometres) line from Dunstable to join the Great Northern Railway's (GNR) main line at Digswell.[1][2][3][4][5] The line would run from a junction near the London and North Western Railway's (LNWR) Dunstable station across the road now known as the A5 to a second station in Dunstable at Church Street.[6] Finding itself in financial difficulties, the LD&WJR merged with the Hertford and Welwyn Junction Railway on 28 June 1858, thereby creating the Hertford, Luton and Dunstable Railway.[4][7][8][9] The line opened between Dunstable and Luton to goods traffic on 5 April 1858, to passengers on 3 May and throughout to Welwyn on 1 September 1860.[1][4][9][3] Trains were worked for two years by the LNWR after which the GNR took over, eventually acquiring the line on 12 June 1861.[2][10][11][12][7][13]

The opening date of the station in Church Street, Dunstable, is disputed; sources differ between 1858[14][15][16] and 1860.[17][18][3][2] In any event, it appears that the station may have opened as a consequence of the failure by the LNWR and GNR to agree terms for a joint station in Dunstable.[3][19] The initial station was a simple timber-built structure with a single platform which proved unsuitable to handle the line's traffic and which soon generated numerous complaints from passengers.[19][20] The GNR, whose Church Street station was more convenient for the town centre than the LNWR's Dunstable station,[21] offered to rebuild the station so that it could also be used by the LNWR but the latter insisted on having equal rights of access which was unacceptable to the GNR.[3] Following a fire in September 1871, a more permanent structure was provided at a cost of £1,500 (equivalent to £120,000 in 2016).[22][19][21]

A 1902 Railway Clearing House map of railways in the vicinity of Dunstable Town (upper left, shown here as Church Street)

The new station also had a single platform which was situated on the Down side immediately above the A505 Luton-Dunstable road.[23][24] The main station building comprised two floors: the entrance and station booking office were on the lower floor while the main station facilities at platform level which were reached by steps.[25] Following the extension of the platform in November 1890, a signal box was situated on the platform which had views over the countryside towards Skimpot and Blows Down.[26][27] The box remained in operation until 22 July 1934.[27] Two sidings ran down the centre of the goods yard behind the station.[24] These received coal for local traders and handled scrap iron for the dealer who occupied part of the goods yard.[28]

Passenger traffic over the Dunstable branch in its later years was not great except on market days,[29] and Dunstable Town, as it became known after January 1927,[17][30][15] was closed to goods traffic in 1964 and to passengers in 1965 after it was listed for closure in the Beeching report.[31][32][17][15] The line north to Leighton Buzzard closed from 1 January 1966, with tracklifting at Dunstable beginning in 1968.[33]

Preceding station Disused railways Following station
Dunstable North   Great Northern Railway
Dunstable Branch Line
  Chaul End

Present day[edit]

View north-west towards the site of Dunstable Town station in April 2006.

Dunstable Town's wooden platform and platform canopy were dismantled after closure, although the station building remained for some time afterwards.[34] The former goods yard was used to store pipes for oil and gas pipelines.[34] The sidings were disconnected and the controlling ground frame was taken out of use on 7 March 1969.[35] The scrap yard occupying part of the goods yard had closed by the early 1990s, leaving the site to be used as a car park until it was redeveloped for housing in 2008.[36] The line remained open for oil traffic until 30 April 1989 when it was mothballed and then officially closed on 28 March 1991.[37] This allowed one last passenger train – the Chiltern Chariot railtour – to call at Dunstable Town on 17 January 1987, although passengers were not allowed to alight.[38][36] The track was finally lifted in autumn 2010 to allow the construction of the Luton to Dunstable Busway which now passes through the site.[36]

Dunstable is presently one of the largest towns in south-east England without a railway connection.[39]

The station was immortalised in 1964 in the song "Slow Train" by Flanders and Swann.



  1. ^ a b Awdry 1990, pp. 145–146.
  2. ^ a b c Wrottesley 1979, p. 126.
  3. ^ a b c d e Simpson 1998, p. 12.
  4. ^ a b c Davies & Grant 1984, p. 64.
  5. ^ Woodward & Woodward 1994, pp. 3–4.
  6. ^ Cockman 1974, p. 31.
  7. ^ a b Cockman 1974, p. 32.
  8. ^ Awdry 1990, p. 137.
  9. ^ a b Oppitz 2000, p. 110.
  10. ^ Awdry 1990, p. 146.
  11. ^ Simpson 1998, p. 14.
  12. ^ Leleux 1984, p. 30.
  13. ^ Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 14.
  14. ^ Oppitz 2000, p. 111.
  15. ^ a b c Quick 2009, p. 157.
  16. ^ Woodward & Woodward 1994, pp. 14–15.
  17. ^ a b c Butt 1995, p. 86.
  18. ^ Davies & Grant 1984, p. 215.
  19. ^ a b c Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 15.
  20. ^ Davies & Grant 1984, p. 67.
  21. ^ a b Simpson 1998, p. 112.
  22. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 6 November 2017. 
  23. ^ Woodward & Woodward 2008, fig. 43.
  24. ^ a b Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 53.
  25. ^ Woodward & Woodward 2008, fig. 42.
  26. ^ Woodward & Woodward 2008, fig. 40.
  27. ^ a b Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 62.
  28. ^ Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 100.
  29. ^ Davies & Grant 1984, p. 75.
  30. ^ Simpson 1998, p. 52.
  31. ^ Beeching 1963, p. 112.
  32. ^ Clinker 1978, p. 42.
  33. ^ Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 127.
  34. ^ a b Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 130.
  35. ^ Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 131.
  36. ^ a b c "Disused Stations". Subterranea Britannica. 
  37. ^ Shannon 1996, p. 90.
  38. ^ Woodward & Woodward 1994, p. 132.
  39. ^ "British railways board". Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 


  • Awdry, Christopher (1990). Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies. Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0049-7. OCLC 19514063. CN 8983. 
  • Beeching, Richard (1963). "The Reshaping of British Railways" (PDF). HMSO. 
  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199. 
  • Clinker, C.R. (October 1978). Clinker's Register of Closed Passenger Stations and Goods Depots in England, Scotland and Wales 1830–1977. Bristol, Avon: Avon-AngliA Publications & Services. ISBN 0-905466-19-5. 
  • Cockman, F.G. (1974). The Railway Age in Bedfordshire. Bedford: Bedfordshire Historical Record Society. ISBN 0-85155-035-5. 
  • Davies, R.; Grant, M.D. (1984) [1975]. Forgotten Railways: Chilterns and Cotswolds. Newton Abbot, Devon: David St John Thomas. ISBN 0-946537-07-0. 
  • Oppitz, Leslie (2000). Lost Railways of the Chilterns. Newbury, Berkshire: Countryside Books. ISBN 978-1-84674-108-1. 
  • Leleux, Robin (1984) [1976]. A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The East Midlands (Volume 9). Newton Abbot, Devon: David St. John Thomas. ISBN 978-0-946537-06-8. 
  • Quick, Michael (2009) [2001]. Railway passenger stations in Great Britain: a chronology (4th ed.). Oxford: Railway and Canal Historical Society. ISBN 978-0-901461-57-5. OCLC 612226077. 
  • Shannon, Paul (1996) [1995]. British Railways Past and Present: Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and West Hertfordshire. Wadenhoe, Peterborough: Past & Present Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85895-073-0. No. 24. 
  • Simpson, Bill (1998). The Dunstable Branch. Witney, Oxon: Lamplight Publications. ISBN 978-1-899246-03-8. 
  • Woodward, Sue; Woodward, Geoff (May 2008). Branch Line to Dunstable from Leighton Buzzard to Hatfield. Midhurst, West Sussex: Middleton Press. ISBN 978-1-906008-27-7. 
  • Woodward, Sue; Woodward, Geoff (1994). The Hatfield, Luton and Dunstable Railway. Headington, Oxford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 978-0-85361-458-6. LP44. 
  • Wrottesley, John (1979). The Great Northern Railway. 1. London: Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-1590-8. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°53′13″N 0°30′40″W / 51.8869°N 0.5110°W / 51.8869; -0.5110