For a couple of years, Wembley saw an experimental railway running that never stopped. Well, it probably stopped at night time, but during the daylight hours, the trains never stopped, not once.

This was the Never Stop Railway and was built for the Wembley Exhibition in 1925, and much as the London Eye never stops rotating, these railway carriages never stopped at platforms, but passed by slowly enough for people to hop on and off.

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This railway consisted of 88 unmanned carriages, on a continuous double track along the northern and eastern sides of the exhibition, with reversing loops at either end.

The carriages ran on two parallel concrete beams and were guided by pulleys running on the inner side of these concrete beams, and were propelled by gripping a revolving screw thread running between the tracks in a pit; by adjusting the pitch of this thread at different points, the carriages could be sped up, or slowed down to a walking pace at stations, to allow passengers to join and leave.


Jump ahead to 1:10 in the film to see the remarkable screw driven power system.

The railway ran for the two years of the exhibition, an apart from from early teething problems, was said to be remarkably reliable. Sadly, after the exhibition closed, it was then dismantled. Just one of the original 88 carriages is thought to survive.

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8 comments on “Wembley’s experimental “never stop” railway line
  1. Christian Walde says:

    > Jump ahead to 1:10 in the film to see the remarkable screw driven power system.

    Are you aware that your embed doesn’t actually have a time-bar?

    I’m really curious: Did you decide consciously it shouldn’t have one, or does that come with some sort of blog theme you bought and you just never noticed?

    • ianvisits says:

      I just copy/pasted the youtube code in — if youtube are removing the timeline, then blame them.

  2. cs says:

    @ian remove “controls=0” from the embed, src should read: https://www.youtube.com/embed/EX_MlWL7YKM?rel=0&showinfo=0

  3. Loren Pechtel says:

    For the able bodied this sort of thing would be a good idea. It would be a nightmare for the disabled, though.

  4. Edwin says:

    The details on that link suggest that the “surviving” coach came from a different railway (the “Roadrails Railway”) at the same exhibition.

  5. LadyBracknell says:

    It actually looks quite modern.

  6. Engineer says:

    Delighted to discover this post by chance. The NeverStop Railway has been a fascination of mine for many years and I’m continuing to research the story and characters and the engineering.

    The postcard in the blog post is the best definition I’ve seen of this particular view. It shows the Exhibition site while still being completed, around Spring 1924. There’s some areas and roads that look a bit unfinished and work is going on to build the main line’s Exhibition station, with a line of wagons in the platform. From the appearance of the NeverStop installation, it is almost possible to date the image by the state of the works.

    On the NeverStop line, on viaduct crossing from top left to right then snaking down to bottom right, it looks as if spirals are in place in one ‘track’ – with ‘right-hand running’ on this railway, this is the track that ran in the direction Wembley Park past the Exhibition station to the terminus just off the picture bottom right. Spirals are probably in place on the other ‘track’, too, and over 30 of the NeverStop cars are lined up having been delivered, mounted on their running gear but stored prior to being attached to the screw. If the cars were positioned for operation, they would be separated in a regular manner between stations and close together in the platforms.

    The crane used by the NeverStop to handle deliveries of spirals and cars can be seen in the image, a little below the arched bridge that crosses both the main line track and the NeverStop tracks. The crane can be seen also in the later part of the newsreel film.

    Aside from the Neverstop, the image is interesting for all the other paraphernalia and buildings of the exhibition. Today, the signature pavilions to the west of the site are all gone with barely a trace, yet the structures to the north and east of the site, many of them restaurants, or dance halls, or plain exhibition halls – simply steel-framed warehouses disguised behind ornate facades or painted hoardings – may have left a present-day legacy, I believe.

    Take a look at a modern-day satellite picture of the site and some building footprints show considerable correspondence to some of the exhibition’s peripheral buildings. Examples seen in the postcard include the 5-bay, hoarding-clad building just North of the NeverStop viaduct and the transverse corrugated roofing over the exhibition halls that extended below and to the right of the ornate white pavilion in the left centre, filling the irregular space up to the Exhibition station. Buildings to the right of the main line and NeverStop tracks, set at distinct angles, also have left their mark with corresponding structures, visible today. My guess – it’s unlikely that actual buildings from exhibition use have survived, distantly possible that some steelwork may have been re-used, but most likely that the shapes, footprints and foundations, trapped among the many subsequent industrial developments on the site, have become preserved without an intention to do so.