diamond geezer

 Friday, May 04, 2018

Let's count from 1 to 10 using British railway stations...

1) MarylebONE
Sorry, I'm cheating already. There are no railway stations in Britain called One Something. There was Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 & 3, but that lost its 1 in 2016, and I'm really looking for words rather than numbers. So in this list I'm making do with Marylebone, the glorious London terminus of Chiltern Railways. There are 34 other National Rail stations containing the letters 'one', the vast majority of which are Somethingstone or Stonesomething. Examples include Folkestone West, Harrow & Wealdstone and Stonehaven. The only non-rocky names are Honeybourne and Spooner Row.

2) BrenTWOod
I'm still cheating. But the only station names containing the letters 'two' are all woods of some kind. Specifically that's Brentwood, Hartwood and Outwood. Brentwood, Essex, is the first Crossrail station in this countdown. Hartwood's between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Outwood's between Wakefield and Leeds.

3) THREE Bridges
At last, a proper number. Three Bridges is the first station south of Gatwick Airport, where the line to Horsham splits off from the line to Brighton. The adjacent town is named after three crossings over tributaries of the River Mole. The only other station with a three in it is Three Oaks, a minor halt between Hastings and Ashford. And speaking of oaks...

4) FOUR Oaks

Yesterday I visited the only station with a four in it. Four Oaks is a suburb of Sutton Coldfield. Apparently it's one of the poshest bits of the West Midlands, although I couldn't tell that from the station. A lot of the land beside the station is car park. A Grade II listed Methodist church can be easily seen a short distance away. The station has three platforms, one of which is for terminating trains that aren't going all the way to Lichfield. Unusually the ticket office is in the middle of the island platform. In a fantastic quirk of fate, trains run direct from the only station with a four in it to the only station with a five in it.

5) FIVE Ways

Yesterday I visited the only station with a five in it. Five Ways is the first station out of Birmingham New Street on the line to Redditch. It's named after the nearby road junction, now a mega-roundabout, but the name actually dates back to 1565. These days the junction is loomed over by several tall buildings, mostly hotels and offices, in an blandly undistinguished way. At the heart of the roundabout is a large, surprisingly green space, abuzz with people, complete with fast food shack. The station is in a cutting, with platforms accessed down lengthy winding staircases with bright green trim. It's the closest station to Edgbaston cricket ground.

6) SIXmilebridge
There are no 'six' stations in the UK, so I've had to pop over to Ireland. Sixmilebridge is the last station before Limerick in County Clare, serving a small village of the same name. It's the closest station to Shannon airport, although not usefully close. The station opened in 1859, closed in 1963 and reopened in 2010.

7) SEVENoaks
We're back to counting oaks again. Sevenoaks is in Kent, and was named after a set of trees in the 8th century. Two other 'seven' stations exist, both in London, namely Seven Sisters (named after seven elm trees) and Seven Kings (the other Crossrail station in this list). Severn Beach and Severn Tunnel Junction don't count.

8) LEIGHTon Buzzard
Unsurprisingly there are no proper Eights, so I've had to make do with Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire. I could also have picked Deighton or Sleights, but my guess was you'd not have heard of them. Deighton's a suburb of Huddersfield, thanks for asking, and Sleights is on the Esk Valley line between Middlesbrough and Whitby.

9) SherburN-IN-Elmet
No British railway station contains the word Nine, nor the letters 'nine'. But if you're OK with hyphens then Sherburn-in-Elmet in North Yorkshire passes the test, a 9-trains-a-day kind of station on the line between Selby and York, serving a large village on one side of the tracks and a huge trading estate and airfield on the other.

10) ChelTENham Spa
There are eight National Rail stations including the letters 'ten', of which Tenby is perhaps the most obvious, but I've gone with Cheltenham Spa in Gloucestershire instead. Other tens include Attenborough, Sampford Courtenay, Tattenham Corner and Westenhanger, plus in London a couple of Tottenhams. Later this year Tottenham Court Road will become a National Rail station, which'll put Crossrail on the list yet again.

I think the only other numbered National Rail station is Chafford Hundred... unless of course you know better.

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