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London & North Western Railway Society
LNWR Mystery Photographs
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  • Mystery Number 208 – supplied by Ted Talbot

    Show image of mystery phot  mobile/M208B.jpg

    The engine is ‘Super-D’ and what extras we have around again, rare to see line side features in such detail !
    But where is it and what is going on here ?

  • Click here for larger version

  • Philip Millard — 03-Aug-2016 8.06 AM
    It probably does not help, but the first vehicle is an LNER 45ft in Covered Carriage Truck.
    Gary Wells — 06-Aug-2016 12.42 PM
    Am I right? No running lights on the tender
    Reg Instone — 08-Aug-2016 5.19 PM
    At first glance I thought the engine was on a single line of rails over the (river?) underbridge. On enlarging the image I am fairly sure that there is a second line of rails behind the engine - ie the train is on the nearer line of two.
    Making the admittedly rather dodgy assumption that it is a Double Line (Up & Down) not a Single Line + adjacent siding, then this would seem to a wrong direction movement. As Gary points out, there don't seem to be any headlamps, so presumably it is some sort of shunting movement within Station Limits. The two signal dolls are too widely spaced to be a bracket signal for a divergence, so presumably relate to two separate converging lines. We can assume that the signal that is "off" relates to the line behind the engines and train, ie is had not been cleared for them.
    So where is it? I have no idea. Probably on the former LNWR system, or not too far off it. Somewhere with a road overbridge and a river underbridge only about 2 coach lengths (40yds?) apart. The pole route is pretty substantial, wwith a lot more wires than would be expected just for block instruments, signal repeaters etc. I assume it must be carrying a number of telephone (or telegraph) circuits, so this must be a significant through route. There may - or may not - be a junction of some form just behind the bridge. Over to you ...
    Paul J Ebberson — 21-Aug-2016 7.06 PM
    I think the photo is taken at North Oxford showing the LNW line at Walton Well Road bridge looking north. The GWR line is out of shot to the left. Could it be a war time working from Bicester depot to Oxford? I cannot see why the train would be on a propelling move so far outside station limits. Any Carriage storage required would be at Rewley Road station. There were carriage sheds at Bletchley on the down side south of the station and accessable from the Oxford bay platform, which I assume would stable the regular branch sets.
    So the train in the photo is probably wrong line working for some reason.
    You can look over the parapet of the bridge on Google Earth - Street view, and just see the railings which are similar to those in the photo.
    Reg Instone — 05-Sep-2016 5.07 PM
    I've followed up the suggestion of Oxford. If correct, it would have to be in the mile or so north of Rewley Road where the LNWR line ran alongside the GWR. At first I thought it was the Aristotle Lane overbridge at the south end of Port Meadow loops (installed 1942?). But it cannot be this one because there is no substantial river bridge like the one depicted, and also the lane looks very narrow on the 25" amps - so narrow that it was probably a footbridge!
    In which case it must be Walton Bridge on Walton Well Road, and I am now convinced that this is the correct identification. The underbridge carries a branch of the Thames (or Isis) which runs on the east side of both railways. The well-known swing bridge at Rewley Road spanned a waterway connecting the east and west branches.
    In railway terms the view is looking north, which is the Up direction on the LNWR (to Bletchley) (but the Down on the GWR). The camera is just to the north of the 1940-installed Oxford North Junction, which comprised a double junction from Down GWR to Up LMS, and from Down LMS to Up GWR. The signal behind the bridge is the Down LMS homes for Oxford North Junction SB. The dolls appear widely spaced as there is a (hidden) third doll between them, with a small arm reading Down LMS to Up GWR Goods Running Loop. The arms visible are (left in photo) Down LMS to Up GWR Main - and (right) Down LMS home. Although the signals were operated from the GWR SB, they were of LMS pattern and must have been erected by that company. SRS members have the GWR Signalling Notices for the installation of the various phases for this work in 1940, but I have never seen the equivalent LMS notices. We also have details of the associated locking alterations on the lever frame at Oxford North Junction SB.
    The layout, as shown on the 1957 OS 1:1250 sheet, reproduced on the old-maps website can be seen at
    My interpretation is that the train has propelled out onto the Up LMS line beyond the junction, in order to set back onto a different line. As there was no crossover road on the LMS line (Down /Up main) it must be a train from LMS to GWR or vice versa - anyone's guess which! It's also up for suggestions as to what the through service was - or was it just an ECS transfer? Neither have I any suggestions as to why it needed two locomotives, unless one of them ran round at some stage. Incidentally, the Down LMS home is "off", but this must for another train, unconnected with the movement seen in the picture.
    Reg Instone — 06-Sep-2016 3.25 PM
    As a postscript, I might add that the photo was taken before Rewley Road was closed to passenger traffic. Following this change, the Up & Down LMS lines between Oxford North Junction and became sidings, and the arm of the Down LMS Home signal (the one "off" in the photo, lever 81 in the box) was replaced with a miniature arm at a lower level.
    Finally, I might point out that in the 1972 resignalling the junction for the ex-LNWR line to Bicester was moved a substantial distance further north.
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