Now stranded in the middle of a car park in the centre of town is the remains of Cirencester Town railway station, a rather fine two-storey building designed by Isambard Kingdon Brunel and R.P. Brereton, his resident assistant.
Opened by the Cheltenham and Great Western Union on 31st May 1843, Cirencester was the terminus of a four mile, broad gauge single line from Kemble. The line was swiftly absorbed by the Great Western Railway within a month or so of opening.
Renamed Cirencester Town in July 1924, the station boasted an extensive layout, with the single passenger platform being supplemented by large two road goods shed, a single road engine shed, cattle pens, a wagon loading bay, four storage sidings and an intriguing-sounding pig wharf.
Trackplan detail from [Great Western Archive] – click on the image for a larger version of the graphic.
The station originally boasted a small overall roof, but this was replaced by a standard canopy in 1874, leaving the building looking oddly slender.
Note the shortened remains of the passenger platform in the photo above.
Cirencester Town is a good example of Victorian railway Gothic – my favourite architecture!
The station enjoyed a partial rebuilding in 1956, with architect H. Cavanagh taking care to match the existing building by using Bath stone for a new ticket office and waiting room.
Despite the investment, the line was still threatened with closure in 1959, with British Rail Western Region attempting to bring down costs by introducing a diesel rail bus service.
By all accounts, this was something of a success, prompting the opening of new halts at Chesterton Lane in 1959 and Park Leaze a year later.
It seems that this still wasn’t enough to save the line, and despite a concerted local campaign, passenger services were withdrawn on 6th April 1964, followed by complete closure on the 4th October 1965.
Early 1960s view, showing the railbus dwarfed by the station building. You can see the engine shed to the far right with the goods shed behind the railbus. [via]
Similar modern view – the 1956 extension is to the left.
Although it looks in fairly ropey condition today with some tatty modern additions, the station is a Grade II listed building.
A small section of the platform still exists. Shame the trains have gone.
Platform detail showing closed up entrances..
Bricked up entrance to the original booking hall.
Looking towards the junction at Kemble.
Archive view from 1958 [via].
Although the Gloucestershire market town was once served by three stations, none survive at Cirencester, with the nearest railhead now being Kemble, some four miles distant.
There are no plans to rebuild a railway into Cirencester.