In the middle of empty fields, a long way from London can be found the remains of a disused London Underground station.

This was Waddesdon Manor Station, opened by the Metropolitan Railway on 1st January 1897 as part of a branch line that ran deep into rural Buckinghamshire.

Although the Metropolitan Railway owed its origins to the first Underground railway between Paddington and Farringdon, its later expansions did not focus on expanding the railway in London, but on driving northwards out into the countryside. This was partly as the railway could earn more money from the commuters it lured to the rural countryside that it was turning into housing as “Metroland”, but also because the railway thought of itself as a mainline service that happened to reach into London, not a London specific service.

So they were constantly looking for routes to expand northwards, and in the 1880s, the Met line was looking at how to extend its railway further into the countryside when the Duke of Buckingham, who owned a short railway in Buckinghamshire secured permission to extend his railway towards London.

In 1874 a deal was struck to link this new railway with the Met line at Harrow, although progress was slow due to issues raising money, and in the end, the Metropolitan Railway took over the entire line in July 1891, linking central London with Aylesbury in 1892, and a shuttle service running over the older existing railway to Verney Junction.

In 1896 the older railway was upgraded to full mainline specifications, and on 1st January 1897, the upgraded line opened, with the new station at Waddesdon Manor.

The Met line railway now ran services along the entire line from Verney Junction to Aldgate.

OS six-inch 1888-1913 map

The new station, opened as Waddesdon Manor, later plain Waddesdon had two platforms and a small siding for a cattle pen. Although the station stood right next to a road bridge, rather than putting the ticket office above the railway with stairs down to each platform, they put the ticket office on the northbound platform side, and passengers heading south towards London would have to cross over the railway using a footbridge.

Although little used, the station did have a single moment of fame. When he died, the body of Baron Ferdinand De Rothchild, builder of nearby Waddesdon Manor, was taken to Waddesdon Manor Station and carried by train to Baker Street for his funeral.

Morning Post – Tuesday 20 December 1898 (c) British Newspaper Archive

Planned property developments never occurred, and to give an idea of how rural the area remained, the Metropolitan Railway ran special services for people attending the local annual sheep sale.

Bucks Herald – Saturday 21 July 1900 (c) British Newspaper Archive

After the Metropolitan Railway was absorbed into the London Passenger Transport Board, a number of its rural outposts were reviewed, and the London Underground service was cut back to nearby Aylesbury.

It was always going to be a struggle for the station to make sense, as while the Metropolitan Railway developed the land around its lines into housing, the Aylesbury to Verney Junction stretch of railway line it acquired had managed to run just far enough away from all the nearby towns as to make the railway a bit too inconvenient to use, and any property developments would likely have been too small to link up with them as well.

It was a bit of a doomed project, and when the line closed to passengers, Waddeson station also closed.

Although technically closed on the Monday 6th July 1936, the final passenger train to run was the 8:42pm on Saturday 4th July from Aylesbury to Verney Junction, returning at 9:37pm to Aylesbury.

Bucks Herald – Friday 10 July 1936 (c) British Newspaper Archive

Today there’s little remaining other than the northbound platform that can be seen under the bushes that have taken over the site.

Off to one side, still used by Network Rail is the old access road that would have been used by passengers to get to the station ticket office.

The railway line itself still remains as a single-track line, as it’s used for freight and connects with the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. There is talk of reopening the line as it would allow Chiltern Railways to run past Aylesbury Vale Parkway to the currently being upgraded East West Railway linking Oxford and Cambridge — but those talks seem to be on hold at the moment pending funding being secured.

If it does happen, then trains will once again pass through Waddesdon Manor station, although the station itself won’t be reopening.

(Before you say it, yes I do know about the Brill tramway)

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9 comments
  1. David Scott says:

    Interesting article, although I had difficulty locating it on a current map. (51.85520479190823, -0.9012674181102829)

    • ImmortalAbsol says:

      I was half expecting a special event train for enthusiasts to travel the line, which would be cool.

      I should have known something like that would be in the title to draw people in.
      Cool article though.

    • ianVisits says:

      The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre do run occasional trains along the line.

    • dolc says:

      I used to live in Boarstall nr brill and work a Boarstall tower the person i worked for was a doctor he told me that there was a supposed tunnel from the tower that went to brill

    • The Bakers Arms says:

      Do u know where it is on the estate? What fields?

  2. martin petchey says:

    Trains from Milton keynes to Aylesbury were always part of the East-West Rail project (a bay platform was built at Milton Keynes Central for the service), but have been cut – along with succesive postponements for the opening between Oxford and Milton Keynes

  3. Chris Rogers says:

    Reminds me of the sublime TV programme in which John Betjemnn takes the Met from Baker St and stops along the way to investigate quirky sights (and sites), finally ending up at Verney Junction, gazing into the fields at where development stopped. “And do you know, I’m rather glad”.

  4. Peter Wright says:

    It is difficult to believe that Marylebone to Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester express trains used to speed past this rural spot hauled by GCR Directors, Atlantics, LNER B17s, A3s and V2s.

    B17 Steam Locomotive Trust. b17steamloco.com

  5. Nick Chennells says:

    I have two waste trains that go through my back garden in Hanwell everyday with East Londons rubbish! Destination just north of Quainton Road !

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