The Short and Winding Road
Lodging at Mentmore

The Mystery of Denbigh Hall Station

Denbigh railway bridge crosses Watling StreetThe railway crosses the road close to the bottom of a small valley. A stream which ran just this side of the bridge was culverted under the road and the built up land on the far side of the tracks. The nearest part of the stream ran roughly along the line of Melrose Avenue, West Bletchley.

This is Denbigh Hall railway bridge, and for a few months in 1838 the line from London stopped here.

You’ve probably seen articles and videos about this bridge and the temporary station here and wondered where that station stood. I wondered too, because nobody ever gives a location.

I looked at every source I could find, and for a while went on a wild goose chase, finding a low wall said to be the remains of the platform. It wasn’t.

Nobody seemed to know, but I think I’ve found the answer.

I've realised that on either side of the railway and just to the North of the bridge is made up land. The soil for it probably came from the deep cutting to the North of the bridge.

Every map I can find shows the top of this land on both sides to be pretty much flat, and I think this was so that the temporary station could be built here.

Denbigh railway bridge from the NorthBehind this retaining wall, (left) the land between Watling Street, the railway and the road to Simpson was built up to track level. The much larger area built up on the far side of the tracks was, I think, the site of the station and associated buildings.
The Denbigh Hall Inn and some houses or cottages had been on this side of the road, but there’s nothing left to show they were ever there.

With the railway in this locality being either in cuttings or on an embankment away from roads either side of this spot, and with immediate access to the major turnpike of Watling Street, this was the only logical place to put the station. There was even an inn next to the bridge.

The made up land to the West of the tracks isn’t very big; it’s squeezed between the tracks and the road; there’s enough room for maybe just a platform.

But on the other side of the line it was quite a big area, more than enough for another platform, a main but temporary station building, and all the ancillary buildings and stores. There were marquees for passengers to wait in.

Half of this area on the East side was removed some years, to build a large electrical substation.

Another smaller area of raised land is on that same side of the tracks, but on the other side of the old lane to Simpson.

It’s also shown as being flat on the maps, so perhaps a few more temporary buildings were put here. All the built up land around the bridge is now covered with trees and shrubs.

Denbigh railway bridge from the SouthWhen the number of tracks was doubled to four in about 1881, they were added to the South side of the original tracks, via this diagonal addition to the bridge. (centre left) The accomodation access for Denbigh Hall farm is just beyond the buttress.

The line stopped here because the railway company was having problems completing the tunnel at Kilsby, just this side of Rugby. Passengers travelled on coaches between the two stations for the five months or so before the line was completed.

It’s more than 40 miles from here to Rugby. The company might have stopped the line much closer to the KIlsby tunnel but just a few miles from this bridge, Newport Pagnell and Stony Stratford were important places on the stagecoach network; travellers could get here relatively easily.

But why didn’t the line just stop at Bletchley? There was no station at Bletchley, then a tiny village, and would not be until some months after the line fully opened.

There’s no access to these raised areas of land today; it’s all fenced off as part of the railway system. But it’s amazing what you can find out with some lateral thinking and a few old maps.

Old access to Denbigh Hall farmNow just used by pedestrians and cyclists going to and from West Bletchley, this was the Watling Street access under the railway for Denbigh Hall farm; it’s a part of the main railway bridge. The farmyard is long gone, the site now lost under the first few houses at the Melrose Avenue end of Spenlows Road. The stream (see the first photo above) ran past the farm on the North side.

Denbigh railway bridge  BletchleyOn the West Bletchley side where the bridge doesn’t directly support the tracks, there are buttresses with gaps between them. The gaps are hardly noticeable to drivers on Watling Street.

West Coast Mainline  BletchleyThe rear of the train is just about to go over the bridge, which looks very foreshortened in this extreme telephoto lens photo. You can just see the green railings of the bridge behind the “55” sign on the right of the photo.

Bridge over old road to SimpsonLooking away from Watling Street, the built up land was on the right of the lane to Simpson, coming into the village over the canal bridge. Some of that lane still exists. Like the railway viaduct at Wolverton when tracks were added in about 1881, a second bridge was added, right next to but not, I believe, built into, this one. It’s to guard against differential settlement.



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A fascinating article Roger, lots of interesting history, and left me with several questions trying to reconcile my hazy memories of the area from the 1950s era with your pics. The lane to Simpson you refer to was called Grove Rd then I think, and some enterprising entrepreneur ran a greyhound racetrack on land between the Watling St and Tinkers Bridge for a number of years. There was a cafe/truck stop about 200 metres north of the bridge in the 50s, then called the 46 Café, and a laneway behind it took you back, via a dirt road, through Pineham, and Coffee Hall and on to Peartree bridge in Woughton

I can recall the pub near the Denbigh bridge, and several houses further along, but I can’t place the bridge in your final pic – all the other bridge shots are post-1950 constructs aren’t they?

Hi John
I remember the racetrack being there around the mid 1980s, though I never went to it.
As far as I know there's still a cafe just up the road, and I wrote about the lane behind it on the NBW here:

The bridge in the final photo is over Simpson road, and is about 80 yards from the junction with Watling Street. The main bridge over Watling St. is a listed building, but there's no mention of post 1950s work being carried out in the listing. Although I do remember something being done there, the bridge is nearly all 19th Century.

Thanks Roger. The penny dropped a minute after I'd hit "SEND" - how could I forget, the line had to overpass that road too on its way to Wolverton. That road we used to know as Grove Rd from my recall. And the junction with the Watling St was burned in my memory forever after one of the Hughes boys (at No 6 The Close) was killed (in the early 50s) in a motorbike accident turning in off the Watling St.

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