Sunday 5 May 2013

Ambulance Trains - where did they actually go?

During the Great War many existing railway lines nationwide were taken over by the Government in an effort to make the best use of services for transport of goods, armaments, service personnel, civilian travellers and also for ambulance trains. The vast majority of casualties from abroad arrived in the United Kingdom at either Dover or Southampton and unless remaining in one of those two towns they were then transported onwards by train to all parts of the British mainland.

There were two hundred 'stopping stations' - railway stations that received  sick and wounded men and women for onward transfer to local hospitals by motor car or ambulance, and a list of these can be found in 'British Railways and the Great War.'*  In alphabetical order, and excluding Dover and Southampton themselves, they were:

Aberdeen; Addison Road (now Kensington Olympia); Aintree; Aldershot; Ampthill; Avonmouth; Axminster; Bangour; Basingstoke; Bath; Belmont; Bentley; Berrington; Berwick; Bexhill; Bickley; Birkenhead; Birmingham; Bletchley; Bournemouth; Boscombe; Bradford; Brentwood; Brighton; Bristol; Brockenhurst; Brocton; Bromley South; Brookwood; Bulford; Bury St. Edmunds

Cambridge; Cambuslang; Canterbury; Cardiff; Carlisle; Catford; Chatham; Chelmsford; Chelsea; Cheltenham; Chester; Chichester; Chislehurst; Christchurch; Clacton-on-Sea; Clandon; Clapham Junction; Colchester; Cosham; Court Sart; Coventry; Crewe; Cromer

Deal; Derby; Devizes; Devonport; Dewsbury; Dorchester; Dundee; Durham; Eastbourne; East Croydon; Eastleigh; Edmonton; Edinburgh; Egham; Epsom; Exeter; Farnborough; Faversham; Fawkham; Fovant Railhead; Fratton

Gillingham [Dorset]; Glasgow; Gloucester; Gosforth; Gosport; Grantham; Gravesend; Greenock; Greenwich; Guildford; Halesworth; Halifax; Hamworthy Junction; Harlow; Harrogate; Haywards Heath; Hereford; Herne Bay; High Barnet; Holmwood; Huddersfield

Ingham; Ingress Park Siding; Ipswich; Keighley; Kendal; Lancaster; Leeds; Leen Valley; Leicester; Leigh; Lichfield; Lincoln; Liphook; Liverpool; Lyme Regis; Lyminge; London Charing Cross; London Paddington; London Victoria; London Waterloo

Maidstone; Malmesbury; Manchester; Margate Sands; Mayfield; Minster Junction; Napsbury; Neath; Netley; New Barnet; Newbury Park; Newcastle-on-Tyne; Newcastle-under-Lyme; Newmarket; Newport; Newton Abbott; Northampton; Norwich Thorpe; Nottingham; Orpington; Oswestry; Oxford

Paignton; Paisley; Penrith; Perth; Plymouth; Poole; Portsmouth; Preston; Ramsgate; Reading; Rubery; Saffron Walden; Salisbury; Selly Oak; Sheffield; Sherbourne (sic); Shorncliffe; Shrewsbury; Sidcup; Sidmouth; Sittingbourne; Snaresbrook; Southall; Southend; Southport; Stafford; Stoke-on-Trent; Stourbridge; Stratford; Stratford-on-Avon; Strathpeffer; Sunderland

 Taplow; Templecombe; Tidworth; Tonbridge; Torquay; Torre; Walmer; Waltham Cross; Walton-on-Thames; Warminster; Warrington Arpley; Well Hall; West Croydon; West Gosforth; West Marina; Weymouth; Whalley; Whitchurch; Willesden; Wimborne; Winchester; Windemere; Windsor; Witley; Wrexham; York

Strathpeffer Station

The farthest north of these was Strathpeffer, a distance of approximately 625 miles away, and an estimated journey time (with a fair wind and bit of luck) of 20 hours and 33 minutes.  Thank goodness that Richard Beeching was only one year old when the Great War started and many years away from wielding his axe.

The Wounded at Dover by Sir John Lavery (Imperial War Museum)

*British Railways and the Great War, Edwin A. Pratt (Two volumes); Selwyn and Blount, 1921; now freely available online.

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