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Wanborough Station
 
Wanborough Station c1913
Wanborough Station c1913
 
The Story of Wanborough Station
The railway line which runs through Normandy was opened between Guildford and Ash Junction on 20th August 1849 but another forty years and more were to elapse before Wanborough Station itself was built. The railway line then formed part of the London & South Western Railway (LSWR). At Ash Junction it was joined by the line from Reading operated by the South Eastern Railway (SER), the section of which from Farnborough, was opened on the same day. The SER trains continued from Ash Junction to Guildford by agreement over the tracks of the LSWR. The LSWR route was extended to Farnham on 8th October 1849 with stations at Ash Green and later Tongham.

Wanborough Station owes its existence to the efforts of Sir Algernon West, then the tenant at Wanborough Manor He was a close friend of Mr W E Gladstone and also served as his private secretary when he was Prime Minister. Mr Gladstone and his political colleagues often met at the Manor where he himself frequently stayed, and Sir Algernon thought that travelling by rail to a station here would be more convenient for his visitors than continuing to negotiate the steep hill of the Hogs Back from Guildford with coach and horses.

Wanborough for Normandy (Sine 1965)Part of the land for the site belonged to the Wanborough Estate and was given by the McKibbin family, owners of the Manor. One thousand pounds was also collected by local subscription. A condition of the grant of land was that the station, though situated in Normandy, should always be known as "Wanborough" but there was a period in its history when local residents were successful in having "for Normandy" added to the name. Unfortunately two men were killed during the construction of the station.

Wanborough Station about 1908
Wanborough Station about 1908

This picture was taken before the concrete interplatform bridge was built in 1938. A somewhat curious feature is the apparently wide spacing of the track sleepers. The scene emphasises the very rural setting of the station at that time. Today housing estates hem it in except on the north which is to the right of the picture.

When the station was opened on 1st September 1891, The Surrey Advertiser of the day described it as "a handsome and commodious structure". Although control of the railway line and the station has changed many times since then the appearance of the station itself has changed very little since its opening day. There used to be a canopy over the front entrance and a signal box at the far end of the up platform, both of which have now gone, whilst the addition of the passenger bridge came just before the line was electrified.

The Staff at Wanborough Station
The Staff at Wanborough Station

This picture was taken at some time prior to 1915 and contrasts with the present day situation of the station being entirely unmanned. The members of staff are unidentified but the man standing on the left is holding a shunting pole and the two on the right are each holding a flag, one probably red the other green while the man in the middle is probably the Station Master, Charles Dyson.

There are still many residents in the village who remember being taken to the station as children to see the first electric train going through on 1st January 1939. There are many more who remember the train loads of hungry and battle weary troops after the evacuation of Dunkirk, being moved in and out of the sidings while the local housewives plied them with tea, sandwiches and pies. One soldier asked a young girl, "Where are we?" When told, "Normandy", he exclaimed that that was where they had just come from!

For many years the station was a flourishing and busy concern and at one time had a staff of at least five. It handled, not only passengers, but also the community's commercial, agricultural and horticultural products including the strawberries. A siding used to run into the western end of the station yard for the use of the businesses operating from there. For sixty years a siding also connected the neighbouring Wanborough Brick Works to the railway line and trains were regularly shunted from the station so that the bricks could be loaded for transportation. The flowerbeds on the platform were a delight to the eye up until the early 1980s and several times the station won the "Best Kept Stations Competition".

The Station Master's house and station building have been sympathetically renovated by McShane construction and are now used as offices by the company. The occasional excursion steam locomotive, when routed through the station, is a very welcome sight and draws many enthusiasts to the road bridge overlooking the line.

The Station Master's house and station building
The Station Master's house and station building
 
The Railway Construction

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Click on the time-table book to see some train times from Wanborough Station from 1918, 1937,1939 and 1959.
 
Wikipedia links
Sir Algernon West
William Ewart Gladstone
Also See Road Transport page
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