St John’s

The life of the Engine Shed was strongly linked to the operation of trains in and out of St John’s Station. In 1871, whilst construction along the Northampton to Bedford line was underway, the Midland Railway built a temporary station at Cotton end. In the same year, the company purchased a plot of land in the centre of Northampton to build a permanent station.  Located within the grounds of the former St. John’s hospital, the terminus was simply named Northampton Station.

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St John’s Chapel c1808, the Midland Railway station was built in the grounds behind these medieval buildings, which still stand to this day.
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St’ Johns Station façade c 1940.

“The Northampton and Bedford Railway station is a most handsome building, both internally and externally – The architect, Mr Alexander Milne, having designed a building which will put to shame the current unsightly places called stations provided by the London and North-Western Company”

Northampton Mercury, March 16th 1872

The station was a large elegant building of a light sandy-coloured limestone and was constructed above street level on red brick arches with retaining walls which carried the line above Cattle Market Road. An imposing train shed covered the central part of the two platforms. No passenger footbridge was provided, and so passengers crossed the line using a barrow crossing or a footpath where the line crossed Cattle Market Road.

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Areal photo of St John’s station c1950.

Six passenger services ran daily from Northampton to Bedford, the first train departing at 06:15 and the last at 19:52; the journey time was around 40 minutes. A service also ran to Wellingborough, 30 minutes being taken to cover the 12 mile distance. The station did not see any freight services as these were run to the goods station at Cotton End. In 1923, when the Midland Railway became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, it was decided to rename the station St John’s.

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LMS Locomotive 1260 at St John’s Station, 24th March 1939 (W.J.S Meredith)

In July 1939 it the decision was made to close St. John’s as a cost-cutting measure. Services were switched to Castle station via Hardingstone junction.  Following the closure, the lines leading into the old station were used as sidings for the storage of rolling stock for a number of years. In 1948, the station building was converted into offices and they were finally demolished in 1960 to make way for a car park. The station site is now the location for the university’s St John’s Hall of Residence and modern housing on St John’s Court.

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Children playing in the ruins of St John’s station, 1960.