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Honeybourne Station, 12th February 2012
Honeybourne Junction Station (Date unknown, photograph by David Lawrence)
Honeybourne arrived on the railway map in June 1853, with the opening of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton line between Evesham and Oxford. Honeybourne was to prove a strategically important part of the rail network in the area for several reasons; it was at the bottom of the steep Campden bank and therefore banking engines were required to be available, and it would be the junction for the lines to Stratford-Upon-Avon and later Cheltenham.
Honeybourne was a busy station in its earlier days with heavy passenger and freight traffic, the freight traffic being made up mainly of fruit and vegetables from the local area. However, before 1903, the track layout was simple enough for one 31-lever signal box to cope. This would change.
Between 1903 and 1906, a new line was constructed from Honeybourne to Cheltenham and the line from Stratford to Honeybourne was doubled. This resulted in Honeybourne becoming a major junction; trains could depart from Honeybourne north to Stratford, south to Cheltenham, east to Oxford and west to Evesham. Trains could also pass directly from the Stratford line to Oxford and vice versa (assumingly a link allowing direct Oxford to Cheltenham link was not needed as this would have been served by the Kingham to Cheltenham line). The junction was so complex that it had three or four signal boxes controlling at any one point in its life and the expansion meant that the station itself required two signal boxes. Because of the triangular nature of the junction, it was deemed unnecessary for a turntable to be provided. The result of the expansion meant that Honeybourne station was rebuilt in 1909 with two platforms and an island platform.
Honeybourne started life with an engine shed, which was replaced in 1909 due to the site being required for the expansion of the station. The new engine shed had a brief life; it burnt down in September 1911 and was never replaced, engines being stabled outdoors until the station's closure.
The new line was to have advantages and disadvantages. There was an increase in interchange traffic, but conversely, goods traffic brought to Honeybourne from the surrounding area was now better served by the new line, and it was to be the decline in freight that would hit the station hardest, although the station was extremely busy during the 1950's. Ultimately, it was the closure of the Stratford-Cheltenham line during the 1960's that was to seal Honeybourne's fate; the station closed in 1969.
That might have been the end of it. However, the opening of the near-by Long Lartin prison in the early 1970's led to increased calls for the station to be re-opened and an unstaffed halt was opened in May 1981. 2011 saw the central island platform recommissioned to accommodate the re-doubling of the Cotswold Line at this point, with provision made for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway to use the station in the future.