The Independent Years
After a number of engineers had been hired and left, more time allowed through new Acts and land acquired, all drained away the Company's precious capital. Among the difficulties they faced was crossing the Kennet and Avon canal, the River Kennet and an area of soft ground, lifting the original cost estimate for building the line from £30,000 to over £100,000.
Eventually, the contractor S Pearson & Son of Westminster offered to complete the work for £33,000. A contract was agreed on 30 January 1897. Experienced engineers, Pearson's completed the line three weeks early, in 1898. They solved the problem of the marshy ground by constructing a bridge with piles that went down 14 yards.
The track itself consisted of spiked, flat-bottomed rail for the whole 12 miles and 32 chains, which became one of the longest single-track lines in the south of England. Operated on the principle of single engine in steam, the LVR saved money not only because this mode of operation does not require signalling, but also because it decided that communication between stations via telephone was unnecessary.
The LVR concluded an agreement with the GWR to join the line at Newbury. This involved the GWR building both a bay platform - Platform 3 - with a run-around loop on the northern side of the station, and the line out towards Lambourn as far as 1,000 yards west of Newbury Station, where the branch line would diverge fom the main line. The GWR charged £6,000 for this work, plus an annual charge of £25 for use of the bay platform and £50 for use of the tracks across the marshy West Fields.
How the press saw it
The progress which is being made with the construction of the Lambourn railway is very gratifying and Newbury people evince their interest in the proceedings by making the project a favourite promenade on Sunday afternoons. The view to be gained from the embankment across the moors is a very pleasant one. The Kennet winding its circuitous way through the green meadows, the trees of Speen on one side, with the red-topped tower peeping through the woods of Hampstead on the other, and the hills of Hampshire bounding the distant horizon. The sun was shinghing brightly on Sunday, and the river was alive with boating parties and the line with promenaders. The moors, which once were deserted, save by the moorhen, the dab-chick and the water rat, presented a lively aspect, and plainly indicated the advance of civilization.
Newbury Weekly News