Uxbridge (Vine Street) branch line

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The Uxbridge (Vine Street) branch line was a railway line to Uxbridge in the historical English county of Middlesex, from the Great Western Railway main line at West Drayton. It opened in 1856 as a broad gauge single line, 2 12 miles long. It was converted to narrow (standard) gauge in 1871. Two other branch lines were later built to Uxbridge, but without making a connection.

The passenger service was closed in 1962, and all traffic ceased in 1964 except for a stub at the West Drayton end, closed in 1979.


The Uxbridge branch after 1936

Uxbridge had enjoyed the benefit to its trade of a location on the London to Oxford coach route before the railway came. This led interests in the town to oppose the routing of railways through the town, and an 1829 proposed line to Birmingham (not actually built), and then the Great Western Railway main line were designed to avoid the town, and accordingly the GWR approached no closer than West Drayton, 2 12 miles away. As well as the road transit, at the time West London could be reached by packet boat on the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal, recorded in the name Packet Boat Lane in Cowley Peachey.[1]

The commercial disadvantage of not having a railway connection was soon apparent, and in the mid-1840s a branch line was promoted; it was the Great Western and Uxbridge Railway, authorised by Act of Parliament of 16 July 1846. However local investors were reluctant to support the scheme and it went no further for the time being.[1][2]

Real progress[edit]

The Great Western Railway was appealed to for help, and the following year, on 22 July 1847 the GWR obtained powers to take over the 1846 scheme itself. The branch line was to be short, but work did not proceed promptly, and it was not until powers for a deviation of the route near Uxbridge were obtained in 1853 that a start was made.[1]

A single broad gauge line was opened on 8 September 1856 for passenger and goods traffic; the line was 2 miles 51 chains in length, from a junction at West Drayton. The Uxbridge station was in Vine Street.[1][2][3]

The initial train service had 15 trains each way and ten on Sundays. A through train to Paddington was started in 1876. By 1913 there were 45 trains daily, 16 on Sundays, including three to and from Liverpool Street and one to Victoria, until 1939.[3]

Early years[edit]

The GWR undertook the conversion of the gauge of its railway in the area in 1871 and the branch itself was closed from Friday 6 to Monday 9 October 1871; a road service to and from West Drayton was provided during the closure. In 1880 double track was installed.[1][2][3][4]

The line left West Drayton station westward and curved immediately north; from its opening in 1885 the Staines branch (the [Staines and West Drayton Railway]]) diverged and turned south from this point. The Uxbridge branch continued north, and had one intermediate station at Cowley, opened in 1904.[1]

The Uxbridge station had an overall roof; it was demolished in 1933.[3]

Train services[edit]

Kirkland, writing in 1952, recorded that there were 35 passenger trains in each direction on the branch, of which 11 or 12 each way were through to Paddington. The local trips on the branch were worked by push and pull trains, mostly giving good connections at West Drayton. 61XX engines of the 2-6-2T type operated the through Paddington trains (from 1931).[1][3]

Steam railmotors had been introduced from 1913, and partial dieselisation was introduced from September 1958, using GWR railcars.[1][3]

Metropolitan Railway[edit]

The area around Uxbridge became desirable for suburban development towards the end of the nineteenth century, and after some false starts, the Metropolitan Railway opened a branch line to a separate Uxbridge station. It opened on 1 July 1904,[note 1] and after an initial period of steam operation, was made an all electric route. The station was in Belmont Road; the site is now (2017) occupied by Sainsbury's supermarket. From 1933 tube trains of the Piccadilly line used the branch and station, but the station was indaequate, and in December 1938 the line was extended by a short distance to a new station in Uxbridge High Street.[1][2]

Northwards to Denham[edit]

The Acton and Wycombe Railway was authorised 1897, later forming a shortened route from Paddington towards High Wycombe; the route was later adopted and extended jointly by the Great Western Railway and the Great Central Railway, and is usually referred to as the GW and GC Joint Line. In 1898 the GWR obtained Parliamentary authorisation to build a branch line from Denham on that line to Uxbridge Vine Street; a further Act of 1 August 1899 allowed a variation to the route. The connection to the Vine Street station would have run to the east of Oxford Road roudabout, but this final section was never built; the branch from Denham terminated at Uxbridge High Street. It opened on 1 May 1907, at first for passengers only. Some of the land for the connecting line was acquired, and in 1952 part of it could still be traced. The branch closed to passengers on 31 August 1939, fully closing on 2 April 1962.[1][2][4]

Road competition[edit]

From 1901 a street-running tramway service was operated from Uxbridge to Shepherd's Bush, and this made serious inroads into the business of the branch.[1]


The line was closed to passengers on 10 September 1962,[2][3] and the line was singled on 18 October 1962; it was closed to all traffic on 13 July 1964.[2] A short section at West Drayton to the Middlesex Oil Works contineud in use until 8 January 1979,[3] and the section for freight access to the truncated Staines & West Drayton Railway[3]

The site today[edit]

The stretch of land alongside Brunel University where the track ran was sold by the local council upon the line's closure to the college as it was at the time, for £65,000.[5] Otherwise a short piece of track at Cowley is one of the few remaining traces of the railway.[6]


Uxbridge (Vine Street) Branch Line
Uxbridge Vine Street 1856–1962
Cowley 1904–1962
Grand Junction Canal
West Drayton
Great Western Main Line
Left arrow ReadingPaddington Right arrow
Staines & West Drayton Railway
  • West Drayton; GWR main line station; opened 4 June 1838; renamed West Drayton and Yiewsley 1895 to 1974; still open;
  • Cowley; opened 1 October 1904; closed 10 September 1962;
  • Uxbridge; opened 8 September 1856; renamed Uxbridge Vine Street 1907; closed 10 September 1962.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ Kirkland; White says 4 July 1904.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k R K Kirkland, The Railways of Uxbridge, in the Railway Magazine, March 1952
  2. ^ a b c d e f g H P White. London Railway History, David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1963, new edition 1971, ISBN 0 71535337 3
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith, Branch Lines of West London, Middleton Press, Midhurst, 2000, ISBN 1 901706 508
  4. ^ a b E T MacDermot, History of the Great Western Railway: volume II: 1863 - 1921, published by the Great Western Railway, London, 1931
  5. ^ "Annual Report 2005" (PDF). Brunel University. 2005. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "West Drayton – Uxbridge Vine Street". Retrieved 18 November 2008. 
  7. ^ M E Quick, Railway Passenger Stations in England Scotland and Wales—A Chronology, The Railway and Canal Historical Society, 2002
  8. ^ R A Cooke, Atlas of the Great Western Railway, 1947, Wild Swan Publications Limited, Didcot, 1997 ISBN 1-874103-38-0
  9. ^ Col M H Cobb, The Railways of Great Britain -- A Historical Atlas, Ian Allan Publishing Limited, Shepperton, 2003, ISBN 07110 3003 0