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Millbrook Station

Millbrook Station opened in 1846 as a station on the Cambridge & Bletchley Branch of the London & North Western Railway. The line was later extended to Oxford and became known as the Varsity Line. The station was originally called Marston, but went through a number of name changes, to Ampthill in 1847, to Ampthill (Marston) in 1850 and finally to Millbrook by 1910. Despite the name, the station is actually situated in the parish of Marston Moretaine.  

At the Bedfordshire Quarter Sessions in January 1890 Cornelius Theobald, the station master at Millbrook was called to give evidence in the prosecution of a certain Joseph Pugh, who was accused of obtaining food worth 5 shillings and a shilling and sixpence in cash from Marston Moretaine resident Lucy Evans by false pretences [Reference QSR1890/1/5/2]. She had accepted Pugh as a lodger in October 1889. He had asked her to write a letter on his behalf to the general manager of the North Western Railway asking him to forward his pension for the month as he had run out of money; he borrowed a penny for the stamp from Mrs Evans. Having had board on lodging on credit, he borrowed money from Mrs Evans to go to Millbrook station and get some clothes which he said were coming for him by train. He never returned.  

Cornelius Theobald stated that he had not received any parcels for Pugh, that Pugh had never called at the station for one, and that so far as he knew he had never seen Pugh before. An official from the Chief Accountant’s office of the North Western Railway at Euston Station also gave evidence, telling the court that Pugh was not on the books of the railway as a pension. The court heard that Pugh had pulled the same trick at Ampthill, where he had taken board and lodging after leaving Mrs Evans’ house, and again at Wootton Broadmead, where he took lodgings with a Mrs Ann Musgrove and again pretended he had a parcel to collect from Millbrook Station. Pugh submitted the following written statement blaming his state of health and subsequent inability to work for his actions: 

“I would just say I have been in hospital for about 2 years.  I am suffering much from stones in my kidneys and am obliged to use an instrument to pass my water. I have been out of hospital about 3 months and have used herb drink which greatly helped me.  I had spent all my money and am not able to work for more and I cannot walk far at once, which was the cause of me acting so foolishly as I have.  I wanted to get into Hertfordshire to where I belong for I have such a dread of Hospital as they talked of taking one of my kidneys out.  I hope you will be as easy with me as you can.  I am 63 years of age and am not able to work for my living."

It seems the magistrates had some sympathy for him. He was found guilty of all three offences, but was sentenced only to an unusually lenient seven days imprisonment for one of the offences, with a single day for each of the other two to run concurrently. They were rather less lenient when he turned up again at the Quarter Sessions three months later, having fraudulently obtained food and lodging for a fourth time, this time at Sharnbrook. On this occasion he was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour [QSR1890/2/5/1] 

In 1977 the station was listed as Grade II, of special interest and has been described as a good example of a picturesque small-scale station. The listing describes it as being of brick and roughcast construction with applied ornamental timber framing. Some of the roofs have the original scalloped clay tiles with ridge cresting, which others have 20th century tiles. The station was built on an irregular plan, with a single storey and attics. On the western elevation, facing the platform, the applied framing is in herringbone and cross patterning. The left-hand gable has a rectangular projecting bay to the ground floor, with mullion and transom windows and a hipped roof. The upper floor has a 20th century casement window. The right-hand single storeyed block has part glazed doors and to the left-hand gable is a lean-to verandah porch. The gables have pierced ornamental bargeboards. There are ridge and gable end chimney stacks with diagonally set shafts. The down platform has a tongue and groove planked shelter with a scalloped valence. [Heritage Environment Record no. 886] 

A plan of Millbrook Station dating from the 1950s shows the location of the track layout, platforms, goods yard, station master’s house, booking office and cattle pens, together with the Morteyne Arms Hotel (reference Z1032/MILL/1/1).  

The station building was restored and converted into a private house in the 1980s. The station itself remains in use as a stop on the Marston Vale line running from Bletchley to Bedford, the only section of the Varsity Line from Oxford to Cambridge which survived the Beeching cuts of the 1960s with an uninterrupted passenger service, although other sections of the line remained open to freight. The station nevertheless lost its goods facilities in 1964 and became an unstaffed halt in 1968. At the time of writing plans are under way to reinstate the entire route from Oxford to Cambridge, including the Marston Vale section, to from a new East West Rail Link.