Bracknell Station was very different 100 years ago

Bracknell Railway Society logo in black and white.

Written in October 1978

In 1909 the railway from Reading to Waterloo was a busy freight artery, and Bracknell had a large  and Important goods yard. Here are some snippets from the working timetables for the summer of  that year. 

The 0748 horse-box train from Waterloo stopped at Vauxhall to pick up milk churns for Bracknell. It  terminated at Bracknell at 1015 but could extend to Reading if required. It conveyed horse boxes,  empty coaching stock and carriage trucks, and the engine shunted Bracknell yard for some time. A  spare guards van was kept at Bracknell. 

The 0935 goods from Ascot to Wokingham was responsible for shunting Ascot West siding. The  footnote states: 

“Trucks for the siding at Ascot West will be taken from Ascot Station by this Goods Train, and  any trucks there may be from the siding must be taken by the same Goods Train from the  siding to Bracknell, from whence they will be invoiced and despatched to their destination.  The Station Master at Ascot must send a competent man with the Goods Train with the Key  of the Points, who will be responsible for locking the Points and leaving everything in its  normal condition, and until this man returns to Ascot with the Key nothing must leave that  station for Bracknell. The Cross Over Road Points must not be used, nor the Up line in any  way fouled or obstructed. The Signals for the Down Line at Ascot West will be used for the  protection of the train while doing its work at the Siding.” 

Imagine the chaos today if trains from Ascot to Bracknell had to await a shunter walking back from  Ascot West! 

Stores for Amen Corner, Waterloo and Star Lane Crossings were unloaded by the 1055 goods from  Wokingham to Sunningdale on Mondays. This train also served Drake & Mount’s siding between  Ascot and Sunningdale, as well as shunting Amen Corner siding. 

The 1019 fast goods from Brentford to Reading stopped at Earley “when required” to “put out  skins”. 

The 0655 passenger train from Reading to Waterloo was allowed two minutes extra between Ascot  and Sunningdale, so that horse boxes could be attached at Ascot after the train had left the  platform.  

In 1914 Cheap return Tickets were issued from Bracknell for the 0828 to Vauxhall and Waterloo, and  you could return by any train. The Cost? 7/- return 1st class; 5/- return 2nd class!!! 

A 1st class single from Bracknell to Waterloo cost 4/10d. 

A 2nd class single from Bracknell to Waterloo cost 3/-d. 

A 3rd class single from Bracknell to Waterloo cost 2/5d. 

A dog ticket cost 9d.

Bracknell in the early 20th Century 

Part 1 (Written in January 1982) 

Binfield Brick and Tile Company’s Siding: Commonly known as Amen Corner Siding, this was a  trailing connection with the Up line on the Bracknell side of Amen Crossing and there was no  connection to the Down line. Traffic was coal & bricks to & from the brickworks and it was served in  1909 by the 10:55am Wokingham-Sunningdale goods each day, which was allowed 11minutes  (11:09-11:20) to shunt it. Traffic was exchanged inside the brick Company’s property. The 10:55am  did not reach Sunningdale until 2:50pm(!!) after shunting at Bracknell (11:25-12:15) and Ascot  (12:23-2:25). It returned but only as far as Ascot .at 3:00pm. 

As for the siding: “A board is provided at the Siding warning persons to stand clear of the gate posts  at the entrance when shunting operations are in progress, this being necessary owing to the  restricted clearances.” (1934 Working Timetable Appendices). This board is still there although iut  cannot be read except from the trackside. 

Outside the railway fence today the siding is still laid but as this area is due for landscaping it may  not last much longer. The track is partly buried under earth and the brickworks is completely  demolished. By the road entrance to the brickworks (at Amen Crossing) is an LSWR cottage, now  derelict; it is a standard design and has PW huts built on as outbuildings. By the front door, hidden in  long grass, is a metal L&SW marked guardrail to protect the edge of the building. 

Manor Siding: This was a trailing connection to the Up line and left just west of Downshire Lane  bridge. It was controlled by Manor Siding box, which had concrete piers, and these can still be seen  today on the Down side of the embankment. This box also controlled a crossover at this location.  The siding was steeply graded and dropped down to run parallel to the main line. 

In 1934 it was the Maidenhead Brick and Tile Company’s siding and was served by propelling  wagons, brake van leading, from Bracknell station on the Down line, crossing to the Up at Manor  Siding box, which was opened as a block section when required. 

The earthworks for this siding can still be seen from Up trains entering Bracknell but all trace of the  brickworks has gone. 

* * * * * 

In 1909 the 3:47pm Horse Box train from Waterloo to Bracknell stopped when required at Vauxhall  to pick up milk churns for Bracknell. This shows two traffics which were once important but have  now vanished. It arrived at Bracknell at 5:40pm (in the middle of today’s peak period!) and returned  to Waterloo at 6:00pm. 

The 7:48am Waterloo-Bracknell train was also for horse boxes and milk churns, but this could extend  to Reading if required. If so the engine had to return to Bracknell immediately for shunting. The train  reached Bracknell at 10:15am and returned to London at 11:05am.

Part 2 (Written in January 1982) 

Goods Trains in Summer 1909 

Until quite recently Bracknell station had a large and busy goods yard, served by various workings as  befitted a prosperous small market town. The main goods handled were cattle, agricultural produce,  bricks and coal. It is maybe difficult to visualise such traffic today. 

In 1909 the passenger trade was catered for by ten Reading-Waterloo stopping trains each way, as  well as a couple of shorter Reading-Ascot trips worked from the small engine shed at Ascot. Trains  ran at about 2 hourly intervals, adequate by the standard of the day as this was a rural area and the  Great Western main line to London from Reading was shorter and quicker. The 19th Century days  when the GW, L&SWR and SER had competed for the Reading traffic had long gone. 

The Down Trains 

The first weekday goods to run over the line towards Reading was the 3:50am Nine Elms Yard Reading, which ran via Staines Junction, to call at Bracknell from 0531 to 0537. This was its only  booked stop after Staines and was made so that “Wokingham General Goods” could be detached to  go forward by the following 0530 ex Woking. The long Down sidings were probably used for this  purpose. This train could run very late as we shall see later. 

The 0530 ex Woking arrived at 0635 and left at 0640. It ran via the (now long disused) Virginia Water  West Curve and only stopped at Ascot and Wokingham for short periods before reaching Reading at  0714. The working timetable contains the footnote that this train must be held at Bracknell to  connect with the 0350 ex Nine Elms when that train is running late. Since this means that the 0350  would be an hour behind time, it must have been a regular late runner due to shunting delays at  Nine Elms. 

Next to arrive was the 0430 Nine Elms-Bracknell goods at 0857 (during today’s peak period). This  train ran via Brentford where it stopped to “set down guards” and shunted all stations from Staines  for varying periods. It did not return to Nine Elms until 1630 and so the engine and van remained in  Bracknell Yard, presumably shunting, until the late afternoon. 

At 0957 the 0935 Ascot-Wokingham goods arrived, a local working which we shall see more of later.  It did not shunt, the engine of the horse box train did that, and after detaching/attaching wagons left  at 1017. 

The next train was the 0748 Horse Box train Waterloo-Bracknell, which arrived at 1015, and  returned to Waterloo at 1105. The fact that two daily trains ran to Bracknell shows the amount of  traffic the station generated at that time. It could be extended to Reading and so a long footnote  was provided in the WTT: 

“This train will stop at Vauxhall when required to take up milk churns for Bracknell: it will call  at Clapham Junction to detach spare stock: when required it will be extended to Reading and  convey Horse Boxes, Carriage Trucks and ECS for Earley, Wokingham & Reading. The engine  is to return at once to Bracknell. The guard of the 4:30am goods from Nine Elms to Bracknell  to work the 7:48am Horse Box train from Bracknell to Reading. When it is necessary for the  7:48am Horse Box train from Waterloo to Bracknell to be extended to Reading, it must  precede the 9:35am goods Ascot to Wokingham from Ascot and on the arrival of the latter  train at Bracknell, the engine must perform shunting operations until the arrival of the  7:48am engine back form Reading. Ascot to make the necessary arrangements. A spare  guards van to be kept at Bracknell.”

The 1019 Brentford-Reading goods arrived next, at 1200. It called only at Staines and Ascot before  Bracknell and after brief shunting it left at 1210.This train conveyed wagons which were brought to  the L&SW from the Midland, North London and L&NW Railways, over the North and South Western  Junction line from Brent and Willesden to Brentford Yard. There an engine sent from None Elms  collected them, providing a link to Reading from the North. This train would stop at Earley if required  to “put out skins”; what these were and why they had to be put out at Earley I do not know. 

Another Woking-Reading goods was the next arrival, this being the 0930 ex-Woking which called  from 1220 to 1244. These trains conveyed wagons from Portsmouth and the London area as Feltham  Yard did not exist until 1924. As before this train used the Virgnia Water West Curve and it called for  shunting at all stations Sunningdale to Reading. This train had to be held at Ascot until the 1150  goods (1019 ex Brentford) and the 1112 passenger (1000 ex Waterloo) had left, although this only  applied if these trains were running very late. It could not leave Bracknell until the 1234 passenger  (1105 ex Waterloo) had departed. 

Another Nine-Elms-Reading goods arrived at 1410 and left at 1436. This was the 1012 ex-Nine Elms  which ran via Hounslow and called at several stations en route. This train stopped at Kew Bridge  when required for Road Box traffic (goods carried in box vans which could be opened en route) and  at Barnes, by signal, if there were wagons there for the Reading line. It would also stop at Feltham to  attach or detach wagons, and to detach when required at Ashford and Earley. It finally arrived at  Reading at 1528, and was the last though Down train of the day. 

The final goods working was another Waterloo-Bracknell Horse Box train which left London at 1547 and after a few stops en route arrived at 1740. It called at Vauxhall if required to take up mo;k  churns for Bracknell. It only stayed in the yards for 20 minutes and left for Waterloo at 1800. Unlike  the morning train there was no provision for it to extend to Reading.

Part 3 (Written in May 1982) 

Up Trains 

As we have seen almost all of the down goods ran during the morning. In contrast the up trains ran  during the afternoon and evening. This was because they conveyed wagons which were delivered to  Reading during the morning by the GWR. By the time these wagons had been shunted and sorted in  Reading yards and transferred to the L&SW/SECR side of the station it was the late afternoon and  evening, but the trains reached London by the end of the day ready for despatch the following  morning. 

The first up goods train was in fact the return working of the morning horse box train which left  Bracknell at 1105. Horse Boxes and Carriage Trucks conveyed by this train could be detached at  Richmond if required to be forwarded to Kensington via Turnham Green. 

Soon after this train had left, the return working of the 0935 Ascot-Wokingham local goods arrived  at 1125 and stayed until 1215. This was the 1055 Wokingham-Sunningdale goods which returned  from Sunningdale to Ascot later on. During its travels this train shunted all the private sidings in the  area; it also stopped at Star Lane, Waterloo and Amen Crossing Boxes on Mondays when required to  put out stores. Between Ascot and Sunningdale it shunted Drake & mount’s siding. 

The first “through” Reading-Nine elms goods was the 1218 ex Reading which did not run on  Mondays or Saturdays. Unlike the down trains this ran through Bracknell non-stop (at 1253) and only  stopped at Ascot, Feltham, Brentford & Clapham for short periods. The wagons in up trains were  mainly through workings , there was not a large Reading-Bracknell traffic. The 1218 stopped at  Egham when required, to detach cattle wagons for Main Line (Southampton line) Stations, which  went forward by the 1530 Staines Junction-Woking goods. It also took on wagons at Feltham and  conveyed empty L&SW coaching stock for Clapham. 

On Mondays and Saturdays this train left Reading at 1356 and this time stopped at Bracknell (1441- 1446), Ascot and Egham before Nine Elms. It stopped at Sunningdale when required to detach cattle  traffic, and at Clapham when required to detach not less than four empty L&SW coaching stock  vehicles. As with the earlier train it ran via the Hounslow Loop and called at Brentford. 

At 1630 the return working of the 0430 Nine Elms-Bracknell goods left the yard to return to London,  reaching Nine Elms at 2052. This train had spent all day in the yard, with presumably the engine  engaged in shunting. This train called at Virginia Water for Road Box traffic when required, at  Hounslow to take on loaded wagons, and at Barnes to take on “important wagons”. Regular stops  were made at Ascot, Sunningdale, Egham, Staines, Feltham, Hounslow, Brentford, Kew Bridge &  Chiswick. 

The first of two Reading-Woking goods arrived at 1716. This train left Reading at 1625 and called at  all stations to Ascot; it left Bracknell at 1900 which meant that 1.75 hours were spent in Bracknell  yard. It ran via the Western Curve at Virginia Water and called at Chertsey & Addlestone, also at  Woking Station for Road Box traffic. (Woking yards lay to the west of the station, and of course still  do.) 

At 1800 the 1547 Waterloo-Bracknell Horse Box train, which had arrived at 1740, returned to  Waterloo which it reached at 2113. It stopped at all stations to Staines, and at Feltham,  Twickenham, Richmond, Barnes & Clapham, but only for very short periods. Somewhat unusually,  there were no special instructions concerning this train.

The up goods was the only non-stop goods working over the line. It left Reading at 1920 and ran non  stop to Nine Elms which it reached at 2105. It passed Bracknell 1t 1946; the time of 26 minutes non stop Reading-Bracknell does not compare too badly with modern electrics (with two stops). The train  ran via Twickenham and had no special instructions. 

Part 4 (Written in July 1982) 

The second working goods arrived at 2032 having left Reading at 2005 and run non-stop. It left at  2118 after the 2015 Reading-Nine Elms Goods had arrived; for nearly half an hour these two trains  were in the yard together and one presumes that all concerned could cope with this situation. The  Woking goods ran, as usual, via the West Curve at Virginia Water and during its hour-long sojourn in  Bracknell yard it probably shunted. It ran non-stop from Bracknell to Chertsey, and would call at  Addlestone if required to detach wagons containing Pottery traffic. 

The last Up goods was the 2015 Reading-Nine Elms which arrived while the Woking goods was still in  the yard, at 2054. It stayed until 2230, shunting, and finally reached Nine Elms at 0125 the following  morning, after calling at various stations en route for short periods. It stopped at Earley when  required to take on wagons or Road Box traffic, and at Barnes and Putney when required to put out  biscuit traffic (no prizes for guessing where this came from). 

A light engine ran from reading to Ascot at 2230, passing Bracknell at 2250 and reaching Ascot six  minutes later. This did not run on Wednesdays and conveyed a guard. The engine was shedded at  Ascot, and was possibly used for shunting at Reading. 


There were no goods services over the Reading line, and about seven passenger trains ran each way.  There was a return working which left Wimbledon at 0955 to run to Reading via Chertsey, and back  by this route to reach Waterloo in the evening; the only scheduled passenger services to use the  Virginia Water West Curve. Some of the passenger workings were Ascot-Reading locals. 


It is likely that passenger services in 1909 were in the hands of “415” class 4-4-2 tanks and “T1” class  0-4-4 tanks, both Adams designs. The new Drummond “M7” 0-4-4 tanks were probably beginning to  appear by now.  

L&SW goods services were never heavy and the Company had relatively few 0-6-0s. It is likely that  goods trains to Reading were worked by Adams “Jubilee” class 0-4-2 and Drummond “K10” and  “L11” 4-4-0s, with Adams “395” class 0-6-0 goods engines on some workings. The new Drummond  “700” class 0-6-0s were also available but were much used on troop and similar heavy passenger  workings at this time. Ascot shed probably housed tank engines, “415” or “T1”s, which handled local  goods workings. There was a 49ft 9in turntable in the yard at Ascot, long enough to turn 4-4-0s and  0-6-0s, but ther eis no evidence in the wtt that engines terminating at Bracknell went there to be  turned. Possibly they ran tender-first as far as Ascot on the Up journey.

This was published as a series of articles, by Mick Hutson, in the Bracknell Railway Society newsletter. 

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