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Kempston Hardwick Halt

Kempston Hardwick Halt September 2007
Kempston Hardwick Halt September 2007

For many people Kempston Hardwick is just a stop on the Bedford to Bletchley railway line. The railway line running from Bedford to Bletchley was the first extensive piece of track laid in the county. The idea was first mooted as early as 1840 when the Duke of Bedford's Woburn steward, T.Bennett wrote to his agent in London, C.Haedy: I met with Mr.Elger [a builder] at Bedford, and had some conversation with him as to this being a good time for selling Building Ground in Bedford or not…Mr.Elger says that should the Railway go on, it is impossible to say what alteration may take place in the value of property in the Town….There was a meeting held yesterday about the Railway, and the project was most favourably entertained by the Meeting. Mr.Whitbread advocates it most strenuously, and will offer every support he can to it, and so do many other proprietors on or about the Line. I think that if the Manchester people make up their minds that a second line of rail is required, they will carry it, and if Bedford does not take advantage of the Line, some other Town probably will".

In the event it was not Manchester but Birmingham that provided the impetus as Bennett wrote to Haedy in 1844: "Bedford was quite alive yesterday about Railways - it appears the Birmingham people are determined on a branch from Bletchley (near Fenny Stratford) to Bedford, the Terminus about the Infirmary, the late Mr.Gotobed's field or one of the Duke's will be chosen. the line then proceeds through Kempston, Wootton, Marston, Lidlington, tunnel through Brogborough Hill, come out about Holcot, over the lower part of Aspley to Wavendon and Sympson and Bletchley".

The Duchess of Bedford cut the first sod at the half way point, Husborne Crawley, early in 1845 and by October 1846 the line was finished and ready to be inspected, but heavy rains caused some minor landslides and opening day did not take place until 17 Nov 1846. By 1848 there were seven stations, the termini at Bedford, Saint John's and Bletchley as well as stations at Marston Moretaine, Lidlington, Ridgmont, Woburn Sands and Fenny Stratford.

Further stations were built in 1905. These were actually halts, designed for motor trains which would stop both at the main stations and these smaller halts, these being at Kempston & Elstow, Kempston Hardwick, Wootton Broadmead, Wootton Pillinge, Husborne Crawley, Aspley Guise and Bow Brickhill. The halts were at ground level and special coaches with retractable steps were built to serve them. In 1935 Wootton Pillinge was renamed Stewartby and during the Second World War Kempston & Elstow, Wootton Broadmead and Husborne Crawley closed, living us the Bedford to Bletchley line as we know it today.