Passenger services on the LVR branch line ceased in January 1960. After that, the southern half of the line remained open for freight, chiefly to and from the Welford Airbase which was occupied by the US Air Force. The northern half of the line had long been torn up by the time we get to the end of our story.
Come March 1973, the USAF had started moving its supplies and munitions by road, its decison to stop using the railway saving it $100,000 a year. When its contract with British Railways ran out in 1973, the line reverted to the control of BR.
BR didn't want it, had no use for it. This meant only one thing: total closure. The LVR's days were well and truly numbered. But there was to be one last hurrah.
Before the track's removal, BR engineers inspected the remaining track and passed it as being safe to carry a public passenger train. It drew up plans for one final commemorative day of operations: "Lambourn Valley Last Day". The date chosen was 3rd November 1973. A diesel multiple unit train was supplied consisting of three three-car sets. Four trips were made up to Welford Park and different coloured tickets were issued for each train journey. 1,997 passenger journeys were logged throughout the day.
Rusty track is testament to the abandoned branch
The DMU nine-car bearing either headcode 2A or 1Z ran in October 1969.
The 2Z headcode was used in 1973. Ironically both "Final Trips" were nine cars and and both dates saw L470 on the front.
Images from 1969
What follows is a depressing set of images of the dismantled and abandoned sections of the railway. With thanks to David Canning, Nick Catford and Martin Loader for the images.
Stockcross & Bagnor
Stockcross & Bagnor
Above & left: Boxford Station
Welford Park. Note removal of the up platform
Images from 9th September 1969 - around Welford Park
The gate on the USAF siding
The M4 bridge near Welford Park
The sand drag leading up to the airbase.
Near Welford looking north
Sign near Welford Park
North of Welford Park
Decay and desolation were the depressing orders of the day for stations north of Welford Park.
Lambourn in 1969
A sad sight: the principal buildings remain intact - just - but the line and all fittings have long disappeared.
Welford Park in 1976
Branch line, signal box and sidings.
Boxford station shelter and booking office in situ
The station shelter re-purposed as a bus stop in the same village