The Railway in Sharnbrook

Contact is Laurence Ashfield-Bowers on 

The village of Sharnbrook had a railway station for more than one hundred years. The station was closed under the Beeching Plan in 1960. The station was on the Midland’s extension from Leicester to Bedford and Hitchin before being a part of the main line to London St Pancras. It was situated near to Sharnbrook Summit. Here, originally there was a 1 in 119 gradient from the south taking the line to 340 feet above sea level.

Around 1880, the line was quadrupled, with the new goods tracks taken through 1,800 yd long Sharnbrook Tunnel. Following this, in 1884, a long curve, the Wymington Deviation allowed the ruling gradient on the slow/goods lines to be reduced to 1 in 200.

This new project will attempt to identify all residents of the village who worked on the railway and how they contributed to its service to the surrounding communities. Equally important will be an  understanding of why the track layout came across Sharnbrook land. The research will likely be limited to events/features between Oakley and Irchester.

How was the route decided?

What was the track layout?

What infrastructure was created?

Who were the station masters?

Who worked on the railway and what jobs did they have and how much were they paid?

How did the railway contribute to the war efforts?

Why were there accidents?

What types of services used the station?

An initial mindmap shows the resources that will be consulted :

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Sharnbrook during WW2

Using oral history and newspaper sources the aim of the project is to record the events in Sharnbrook during WWII.

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Land Ownership

Project plan being developed around the following mind map:




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Census 1911 & Land Valuation

This is a sequel to the first Census project ; the data from the 1911 census has now been published and will be put through the same transcription and verification processes ; additional columns will be created to handle the extra data about numbers of children in the current marriage. A new Census DVD will be created and it will include other data sources on population data including the 1910 Land Valuation records which show property ownership as well as current property residents.

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Methodist Church Centenary

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High Street Businesses

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Review Magazine

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Community Dig

The techniques use din the HEFA prject could easilt be extrapolated to further test pits within the community. Volunteers from around the village agreed to dig pits in their own gardens or to assist with pits on open ground. This allowed us to investigate parts of the village not covered by the earlier HEFA activity.

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Law & Order

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HEFA/Digging Up our Past

The Archaeology Department at Cambridge University has been leading this project across other parts of East Anglia and Sharnbrook is to be the first site in BEdfordshire. The concept is that the project si supervised by ACA staff but the digging ofthe test pits is done by pupils from local schools. After training the pupils get two days of dogging then a visit to the University to hear the results of the work and to experience a University environment.

The intention is to investigate multiple sites around the village over a period of years. The results from each pit will be aggregated to determine a profile of habitation across the village with time.

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