Video shows the once-thriving steam train line that was turned into a redway in Milton Keynes

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The railway line was vital to transport goods and people

This month marks the 56th anniversary of the closure of the famous ‘Newport Nobby’ line, the steam train track that provided vital links in the north of the city.

Today the line is simply another one of the city’s redway, with just a couple of signs remaining to denote the fascinating history that dates back to Victorian times.

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It was on June 291863 that the Newport Pagnell Railway company was given the green light to construct a four mile line from the London North Western Railway at Wolverton and make a working arrangement with the LNWR.

The Newport Nobby line, then and nowThe Newport Nobby line, then and now
The Newport Nobby line, then and now

The company raised a capital of £45,000 and another £15,000 by loans, and work started the following summer.

On September 2 1867 the line was proudly opened for passenger traffic, with a station on the north side of Broad Street in Newport Pagnell.

Wolverton Brass Band marched through the streets to the Swan Hotel to mark the occasion and free tea and tobacco were handed out to all over-60s in the town to celebrate.

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There were smaller stations buildings at Great Linford and New Bradwell before the line came to a stop at Wolverton station.

There were celebrations when the 'Newport Nobby' line opened in Newport PagnellThere were celebrations when the 'Newport Nobby' line opened in Newport Pagnell
There were celebrations when the 'Newport Nobby' line opened in Newport Pagnell

All four station buildings were eventually demolished. New homes were later built near the Newport site, while the original signs and platforms remain at the Great Linford and New Bradwell stops.

The line provided transport for hundreds of people employed at the thriving railway works in Wolverton, and also for schoolchildren travelling to school in Wolverton.

One former Wolverton Works employee and Newport Nobby commuter recalls: “Sometimes sheep or cattle would wander onto the line from nearby fields – the train would be held up while they were moved back to safety and everyone would be late getting to work. You didn’t get in trouble for being late though, but your money was docked. Luckily that only happened occasionally.”

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The line was invaluable in ferrying goods and even livestock between the two towns, including flour from Newport’s two flour mills and cars and vehicles from the Salmons works in Newport Pagnell’s Tickford Street – which eventually became the Aston Martin Lagonda factory.

The sign remains at the old Great Linford stationThe sign remains at the old Great Linford station
The sign remains at the old Great Linford station

All the coal used in Newport Pagnell and the surrounding villages also came in by train.

The bulbous-nosed steam train was affectionately known as the ‘Newport Nobby’ and many people still have fond memories of it today.

At one time it was proposed to extend the line from Newport Pagnell to Olney but this never materialised.

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Instead, by the1960s, there was government pressure to cut to cut the number of lines in the UK. They were said to be losing money due to the rise in the number of people owning cars and road transport.

Despite objections from townspeople, the Newport Nobby line was closed down 56 years ago this monthDespite objections from townspeople, the Newport Nobby line was closed down 56 years ago this month
Despite objections from townspeople, the Newport Nobby line was closed down 56 years ago this month

In September 1964 the line was closed to passengers and was used for goods traffic only. Three years later, on June 22 1967, it closed completely.

The residents of Newport Pagnell had resisted the closure and demanded an enquiry. Sadly, they were unsuccessful.

A short film called Nobby’s Last Run is part of the city’s Living Archive’s Wolverton On Film Collection collection on DVD. It can be purchased from their online shop here.