Willington (Bedfordshire) railway station

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Not to be confused with Willington railway station, an open station in Derbyshire.
Place Willington
Area Borough of Bedford
Grid reference TL113503
Original company London and North Western Railway
Post-grouping London, Midland and Scottish Railway
London Midland Region of British Railways (1948–1958)
Eastern Region of British Railways (1958–1968)
Platforms 2
1 May 1903 Opened
13 July 1964[1] Closed to goods
1 January 1968[2] Closed to passengers
Disused railway stations in the United Kingdom
Closed railway stations in Britain
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

Willington was a railway station on the Varsity Line which served the small village of the same name in Bedfordshire. Opened in 1903, the station was located in a rural area and saw little passenger traffic; it closed together with the line in 1968.


Willington station only opened in 1903, some forty years after the Varsity Line had first opened, as a result of pressure by local villagers on the London and North Western Railway (LNWR).[3] Prior to the station's opening, there had been a siding on the site from September 1896 to handle local vegetable traffic, together with a weighing machine.[4] The station opened at a time when the railway company was looking to increase revenues on the line and was followed by the opening of five halts in 1905 at Wootton Broadmead, Kempston Hardwick, Kempston, Apsley Guise, Bow Brickhill and Husborne Crawley.[5]

The initial station was a very basic single platform structure with wooden weatherboarded outbuildings typical of the LNWR's construction techniques.[6] A second timber platform was added in August 1912 when an unusually long passing loop was laid through the station.[7] A short 16-lever type 5 LNWR signal box was sited on the down platform adjacent to a wooden passenger shelter. At first, trains did not stop at the station unless passengers wishing to join had announced their intention to station staff who would stop the train by signal; passengers wishing to alight had to give notice at the preceding station.[8] The long passing loop was made yet longer on 3 August 1916 to facilitate the increased wartime traffic on the line.[9]

Dwindling goods traffic coupled with the fact that the station served a relatively rural community - there were 204 residents in 1901, rising to 475 in 1961[10] - plus its slightly inconvenient siting to the north of Willington village, left the station susceptible to competition from the motor car.[11] The station eventually closed together with the Bedford & Cambridge-built section of the Varsity Line in 1968.

Preceding station Disused railways Following station
Bedford St Johns   British Railways
Varsity Line

Present day[edit]

Station site[edit]

Graffiti on a derelict building near the site of the former station

The wooden station buildings were derelict by 1971 and had been cleared away by 1975, leaving the remains of the original brick-built platform.[12] The trackbed through the station has been preserved as part of National Cycle Route 51.

Bedford Rowing Lake[edit]

In July 2006, Bedfordshire County Council approved the construction of the Bedford Rowing Lake for the purposes of the 2012 Olympic Games; the lake will straddle the railway trackbed, taking a 120-metre section out of the route and making any reinstatement as proposed by the East West Rail Consortium far more expensive.[13] The 2,300m lake, which will cost £40m, will cover an area of 84 acres (340,000 m2), and would require a bridge second only in size to the Forth Railway Bridge at a cost of £125m.[14] The Labour Government was criticised for its lack of support for the East West Rail Project and failure to safeguard the trackbed.[15]


  1. ^ Clinker, C.R. (October 1978). Clinker's Register of Closed Passenger Stations and Goods Depots in England, Scotland and Wales 1830–1977. Bristol: Avon-AngliA Publications & Services. p. 149. ISBN 0-905466-19-5. 
  2. ^ Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations, Patrick Stephens Ltd, Sparkford, ISBN 1-85260-508-1, p. 251.
  3. ^ Oppitz, Leslie (2000). Lost Railways of the Chilterns (Lost Railways Series). Newbury, Berkshire: Countryside Books. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-85306-643-6. 
  4. ^ Mitchell, V.; Smith, K. (February 2007). Bletchley to Cambridge featuring Bedford St. Johns. Midhurst, West Sussex: Middleton Press. p. plate XVII. ISBN 978-1-904474-94-4. 
  5. ^ Simpson, Bill (1981). Oxford to Cambridge Railway (Vol. 2). Poole, Dorset: Oxford Publishing Co. p. 91. ISBN 0-86093-121-8. 
  6. ^ Davies, R.; Grant, M.D. (1984). Forgotten Railways: Chilterns and Cotswolds. Newton Abbot, Devon: David St John Thomas. p. 120. ISBN 0-946537-07-0. 
  7. ^ Simpson, B., p. 93.
  8. ^ Oppitz, L., p. 144.
  9. ^ Simpson, B., p. 91.
  10. ^ Mitchell, V. and Smith, K., plate XIX.
  11. ^ Simpson, Bill (2000). The Oxford to Cambridge Railway: Forty Years On 1960–2000. Witney, Oxford: Lamplight Publications. p. 15. ISBN 1-899246-05-3. 
  12. ^ "Disused Stations". Subterranea Britannica. 
  13. ^ Bedford Today, "Rowing towards final lake decision", 16 July 2006.
  14. ^ "A Bridge too Far" (PDF). Railwatch. Railfuture. October 2006. 
  15. ^ BBC News, "Concern over East-West rail link", 10 January 2007.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°08′21″N 0°22′33″W / 52.1393°N 0.3758°W / 52.1393; -0.3758