Welcome to Horspath Village

Horspath and the Railway

The railway from Princes Risborough to Oxford was authorized in 1861 and construction of the broad gauge line was started by the Wycombe Railway immediately. Thame was reached the following year and a direct service from Thame to Paddington via High Wycombe and Maidenhead was started immediately. Trains took nearly 3 hours, calling at all stations on route, including the new station at Bledlow and (by request) the halt at Towersey.

Construction onwards to Oxford took more time, not least because a 520 yard tunnel had to be constructed at Horspath. The tunnel is single track with a double curve in it, the centre being out of sight of both entrances. Nevertheless the line to Oxford was completed in October 1864, with new stations at Tiddington, Wheatley, Morris Cowley and Littlemore before reaching the GWR main line south of Oxford at Kennington Junction. Horspath Halt was on the Oxford side of the bridge which crosses the Cuddesdon Road.

In 1867 the Wycombe Railway was absorbed into the Great Western Railway and three years later work started on converting the whole line to standard gauge, necessitating the closure of the whole line for just over a week.

Horspath Halt was an intermediate station on the Wycombe Railway which served Horspath village from 1908 to 1915, and later from 1933 to 1963. The opening of the halt was part of an attempt by the Great Western Railway to encourage more passengers on the line at a time when bus services were taking away travellers.

The decline in traffic started in the 1930s and apart from a brief spell of increased activity during the Second World War, the gradual run down of the line continued through to the end of the 1950s. In January 1963 the final passenger train ran on the line and the central section of the track was lifted, end sections being retained for goods traffic to the oil depot at Thame and as a connection to the British Leyland, now BMW, car factory at Cowley.

Nothing remains of Horspath Halt, but the trackbed running through the site remains intact to the south as far as BMW Cowley where the now mothballed line to Kennington junction begins, and to the north as far as Wheatley where housing has been built on the former station site. A section of the old trackbed which runs through Horspath was purchased in 1982 by Horspath Parish Council who manage the cutting as a nature reserve. The tunnel is still owned by Oxfordshire County Council, but was converted into a bat hibernaculum in 2002 by a team of Horspath conservation volunteers, professional engineers and builders to meet the requirements of English Nature and the Bat Conservation Trust. Visit the Wildlife Conservation Area web site for the full history of the Horspath Parish Council Wildlife Conservation Area and the Bat Hibernaculum, or see the Wildlife in Horspath page.

Acknowledgements to Ian Peacock and BucksRail

Horspath Bridge 2006
Horspath Bridge over the Cuddesdon Road, 2006
Butts Road Bridge 2006
Butts Road Bridge, start of the Horspath Parish Council Wildlife Conservation Area

Rail route through Horspath
The Oxford to Princes Risborough rail route