A (Great) Central Location
Woodford Halse was once a busy railway centre. Between 1891 before the railway came and 1901 the population of the Parish more than doubled from 527 to 1220. In 1941 the goods yards at Woodford had space for over 3000 wagons. Between 1942 and 1951 the yard handled almost 10 million wagons. The Great Central Railway ran trains from Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, York and Rugby through Woodford to London Marylebone.
Woodford Halse really was at the centre of railway services in the area. It was possible to get a train to London without having to change. Some idea of its significance can be seen in this map of railway connections between 1911 and 1914. (Click for a larger version)
In 1910 there were 16 “down” passenger trains (towards London) and 17 “up” trains (away from London) stopping, starting or finishing at Woodford.
This map from 1954 shows how the railway cut through the village with the sidings extending to the north towards Charwelton. (Map used with acknowledgements to Disused Stations.org who have a page on Woodford Halse station).
A model of Woodford Halse railway in its heyday has been created by the Model Railway Society and can be seen on occasion in the Social Club. The club has a facebook page here.
If you want to explore Woodford’s railway heritage there’s a short walk around the village. Download the walk guide here.
This video shows trains working around Woodford in the British Railways era, referencing the GC (Great Central), SMJ (Stratford & Midland Junction) and GWR (Great Western Railway) workings. Skip forward to 0:39 for the start of the video:
And here’s another video from the British Film Institute’s archive. It’s a twenty minute amateur film from 1966 showing the line from Banbury and into Woodford Halse with some great shots of steam trains and the village at the end of the railway era… Rails Into Ghost Town
The Great Central has attracted much study from railway and social history groups. Here are some links to further interesting information:
- The Great Central Society
- Photos of Woodford Halse at The Transport Archive
- Woodford’s Railway Interest Group
- Woodford Halse information at Disused Railway Stations.org
(Details on this page based on “Woodford Cum Membris and the Great Central Railway” by J.W. Anscomb)