Thursday, May 5, 2011
When taking the train home from London, I’ve often seen the light of the setting sun on the old station of Charlbury before my train pulls out and heads into the Cotswolds along the Adlestrop line. Passing by in the car the other week, I decided to stop and take a photograph, as this simple wooden building is worth a closer look.
Charlbury Station was built in 1853 on what was then the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway. This was a line engineered by Brunel, so shared the broad gauge with Brunel’s Great Western Railway. But on this line money was short, so many of the stations, such as Charlbury, were built of wood. Brunel, though, was not one to produce “railway architecture lite”. He had an Italianate mode – round-headed windows and doorways picked out with a surround in a contrasting colour, a coloured band running around the building like a string course, a broad overhang with undulating brackets – that worked well in wood and gave these humble buildings a touch of class.
So the well-heeled denizens of Charlbury and the villages of West Oxfordshire can feel that Brunel has done them proud. Charlbury has been serving passengers for more than 150 years, and catching my eye for more years than I care to remember as the train moves ever further away from London and Oxford, deeper into the Cotswolds, and out again towards what they used, in the days before computerized announcements, to call “Evesham, Capital of the Vale”.