Crowthorne Halt

A Reprint of an Article in The Coupling of April 1998 - by John Rowe

I enjoyed reading Mark Stapleton's article on the Schools Class loco at Crowthorne last month, as I lived close to Crowthorne for many years before coming to Canada. I must admit though at the time my interest in railways was being displaced by two wheeled machines and skirts(!), (third rail electric didn't help either). Fortunately my interest returned through modelling.

When I came to Canada, I acquired an assortment of North American stock, and made a half hearted attempt at a layout in my basement. Then one spring, I cannot remember the year, late 70's, 1980 or thereabouts, I attended the CRHA show, which was then held at the Queen Elizabeth building if memory serves right. One of the exhibits was the Platelayer's stand, which at the time had a layout created by several members providing modules.

That display put an end to my North American stock on the spot! All were boxed and still remain so. What interested me was not only seeing British outline modelling, but of particular interest was the Southern stock being run. Being a young loco spotter in East Kent (before moving to Surrey) this would be only natural. To cut a long story short, I started my own collection of Southern stock, I still don't have a layout at home, all my running is done on the British Railway Modellers layout. Enough on that, back to Crowthorne.

Crowthorne is a village set on the Surrey/Berkshire border close to Camberley and Sandhurst. At Sandhurst is the Royal Military Academy for Officer training, part of which is Wellington College, likely the namesake for the Southern Schools class loco Wellington. The main line from Reading through to Guildford was operated by steam traction and later by diesel.

This line comes from Reading through Wokingham and the next stop is Crowthorne (not known as a Halt), although the village of Crowthorne is about a mile away. The next stop on the line is Sandhurst Halt, now it is known just as Sandhurst, the Halt being dropped around 1960. The line then passes through Blackwater, which is a village situated at the western end of the town of Camberley.

From there the line traverses through Frimley, Farnborough, Street, North Camp, Ash Junction and thence on to Guildford via Wanborough. The area is rife with the military, Ash and Farnborough being very close to Aldershot, (known as the home of the British Army!), and North Camp. Oddly enough the Reading to Guildford line does not go through Aldershot, just passing by on the eastern side; that town is served by the Waterloo to Alton line, which is third rail.

The station at Camberley is on a different line altogether. It is sited on the Waterloo, Ascot to Basingstoke line, again third rail electric. My wife's father was the manager for Sainsbury's grocery store in Camberley for many years, and was the major supplier of grocery provisions to Wellington College.

We got to know the general manager of the catering department of Wellington College quite well, and when he retired he and his whole family came to Canada and settled in Hamilton the year before us.

© John Rowe - 1998

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April 2001