Nostalgia group looks at Huntingdon's railway station

Steam at Huntingdon station

Days of steam return to Huntingdon station - Credit: Huntingdonshire Nostalgia Group

The history of Huntingdon railway station is the subject of the latest piece by Huntingdonshire Nostalgia Group chairman Karl Brockett.

When originally opened by the Great Northern Railway on 7 August 1850, the town's station was just named Huntingdon. However, from 1 July 1923 until 15 June 1965 it was known as Huntingdon North to distinguish it from the nearby Huntingdon East on the line between Cambridge and Kettering via St Ives which closed to passenger traffic in June 1959, along with the line.

Railway near Huntingdon

The railway near Huntingdon as it used to be - Credit: Huntingdonshire Nostalgia Group

From the mid 1970s to the late 1980s the station was slowly rebuilt, going from a station with one platform connected to the ticket office and an island platform to an electrified station with the main platform, a bay platform as well as a separate platform for the slow line. The reason for this was that pre-1976, only three tracks went through the station causing a major bottleneck in the area.

The station is on the East Coast Main Line, 58 miles 70 chains (94.75 km) from London King's Cross, and is now managed and served by Great Northern.

On 14 July 1951 the West Riding express from London to Leeds, hauled by Class A3 60058, was on its way from London when a passenger noticed a wisp of smoke rising between the arm rest of her seat and the side of the coach which she reported to a pantry boy.

Steam trains at Huntingdon

Steam trains serving Huntingdon - Credit: Huntingdonshire Nostalgia Group

The guard noticed smoke seeping between the edge of the carpet and the coach side, and diagnosed a hot axle box. He decided to throw out a message to the Huntingdon station-master, as the train was approaching the station at the time
St Ives also had a railway station which between 1847 and 1970 was served by the Cambridge and Huntingdon railway. The line from Cambridge and the station almost survived the 1963 to 1973 Beeching Axe, but were lost to passenger service in the final stages of the process.

Some sections continued to be used for freight until 1993. A campaign to reopen the passenger rail service only ended with the ripping-up of disused track shortly before construction of the Guided Busway.