A busy Swanbourne morning , Nov 1986

A busy morning at Swanbourne, November 15th 1986

Phot sessions at Swanbourne, on the Oxford-Bletchley line were a bit of a gamble. Afternoon trips could often draw a blank, due to late or non running of the Aylesbury parcels and DMU transfer moves. Morning sessions normally brought a stone working but timings did vary. Considering it was a longish and hilly cycle ride from Leighton, I didn’t do many. This remote rural location also had another trick that caught you out. The sounds of loco’s hooting on passing Bletchley 5 miles away could be carried on the breeze and you would ready yourself for nothing!…

November 15th 1986, some 36 years ago now, but still fresh in the mind was a unique one. A railtour, plus gen on a tube move, meant at least 2 trains…in theory. I arrived at Swanbourne in thick November fog and photting anything was impossible. Fortunately this lifted in time for ..

Train 1

31215 and 31161 approach Swanbourne as the mist lifts with a prototype BREL Central line tube train move from Washwood Heath to Neasden

The prototype tube and brake vans smoking nicely pass Swanbourne

I was expecting the tour to follow, having crossed the tube at Claydon. Photters in cars passed, kindly advising the tour was hours late due stock problems. Warbling thrash in warmish sun announced

Train 2 – 31159 passing with the Aceman St – Bletchley UKF empties. This regular SO train would go forward on the main Ince and Elton from Bletchley in the afternoon with class 81-85 power.

A long, very long wait followed, fearing the tour caped/diverted as photters drifted away, but an unfamiliar Sulzer rasp announced the arrival of..

Train 3 – 45110 with the “Red Brick Rambler” Railtour from Marylebone to Retford some 2 hours down with some Lists contributors aboard finally pass Swanbourne some 2 hours down

Locals walking or driving passed took the trouble to stop for a chat and several remarked that the stone had “gone down in the morning”. Now it rarely returned West before 10am, so it possibly was waiting on the flyover at Bletchley, for the tour to pass as the line was now single Claydon-BY. (Rich Stiles was to confirm the 37’s were waiting some 25 years later!!). Anyway more in hope than anything back then I waited, and half an hour or so after the peak had passed came

Train 4 – With split box Eastfield allocated 37117 leading and 37200 trailing the impressive “ARC” empties are returned to the Western Region from Wolverton

Train 4B – A final shot of the leading ARC hoppers and power passing Swanbourne to nd a busy morning at Swanbourne…

In the early 2000’s on occasions I still passed the bridge at Swanbourne, the tracks thanks to an enthusiast station owner, remain both present and fairly weed free. Obviously no peaks, goyles, syphon’s or our much missed “rats” are to be seen. The line was “mothballed” since May 1993, and nought has physically happened re a train service actually linking Bletchley and Oxford again…

By 2020 the East West link actually started making real progress but for Swanbourne station all was not good. The rebuilding of the still double track railway but with a much wider track bed saw Swanbourne station levelled in 2021. To be positive it does look like Oxford – Bletchley  – M.Keynes passenger services may well start in 2025 but the likes of 4 loco hauled trains appearing on a misty November morning are gone for ever…


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