From Chimney Pots to Boot ScrapersCharacter Study

The Works

The railway Works, for which Wolverton is famous, still exists in parts. Some buildings have been demolished, some are in ruins and some are still operational.

The Works were originally established in 1838 to the west of the original line on a square site. Over subsequent decades, however, the site spread to the north of the square, to the east of the line and, especially, to the west of the square, obliterating Bury Street, Gas Street, Walker Street, Cork Street, Garnet Street and the allotments. At their maximum extent, in 1906, the Works covered 80 acres and employed up to 5000 people. Locomotives were built at the Works until 1877, thereafter, Crewe specialised in locomotives while Wolverton specialised in building and repairing carriages. This resulted in many Wolverton staff moving to Crewe and vice versa.

Looking north over the parapet of the Stratford Road bridge over the original line, it is possible to see, on the right, Works buildings ?of of 1845-6 (nearest) and its northward extension of 1850. Straight ahead, the long building going north is the old Royal Train Shed. Both these buildings are in a poor state of repair but have fine details and are Grade II listed. In the left distance, behind the Tesco car park, is a long, roughly E-W building of 1873. These buildings are in a poor state of repair. As almost all the Works buildings, they are of red brick. Note that some of the buildings still contain bits of the camouflage painted on during the war to confuse enemy planes. The ‘engine shed and workshop’ of 1838 was replaced by a slightly larger building in 1841, but this was demolished in the early 1990s to make way for Tesco’s car park. Buildings to the west were also demolished to make space for the store itself. The still-operative part of the Works, now owned by Alstom (9d), lies at the extreme west of the originally huge Works site, with a new entrance constructed in the 1990s. The Royal Train is kept here, which in various forms has been maintained in Wolverton since the 19th century.

In 1882, the Works was enclosed by a high brick wall over 1.5 km of which fronted Stratford Road and thus became a marked feature of the town. Some of the wall has since been demolished, but a significant section remains. Note themgates/doors, now sealed, through which thousands of workers once streamed each day.

Although the Works is now but a shadow of its former self, attempts are always being made to remind people of Wolverton’s railway heritage. For example, on the modern shops of Glyn Square, which now face Creed Street, white panels illustrate the underframe, wheels and motion of a fictitious locomotive. Also, high on the east wall of the entrance to the Tesco store from the Stratford Road there is a pair of locomotive wheels with connecting rods, brake blocks and motion in sculptured brick. In the Market Square, a station column has been used to support the “Regeneration Bird”.

Men Leaving the Works
The Viaduct
The Viaduct, which is 198 m long and 17 m high, was also doubled when the main line was diverted. The older (1838) section lies to the west. It is possible to walk beneath the viaduct from the small car park on the Haversham road. Spot the join between the two viaducts!

By Geoffrey Ealden, Anna McEvoy, Julia Newman, Andra Roach, Peter Smith