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Captain Kernow

The origin of 'parkway' railway stations

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I have been asked for some information about the origin of parkway type railway stations. I believe that Bristol Parkway was actually the first, in 1972, am I right in thinking this?

 

Also, can anyone comment as to the motivation and thinking behind the rise in the opening of 'parkway' type stations (or the re-dedication of existing stations as 'parkway' type ones).

 

What was the involvement of the Department for Transport (or whatever it was called back then), if any?

 

Did local authorities have any involvement in the process in the early days, or was it all just something that British Rail decided to to?

 

Many thanks.

 

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I’m not absolutely sure how much you can generalise but aren’t a lot of them for areas or towns that don’t have a very local station so are designed to serve people driving in from a larger area? This is interesting: 

‘When the station reopened on 7 May 1973, it was given the name Alfreton and Mansfield Parkway, as the nearby town of Mansfield in Nottinghamshire did not have a railway station of its own, making it at the time the largest town in Britain without one.’

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfreton_railway_station

 

Somewhat similar to old station names with ‘road’ in them, which are near to but not in the named town.

 

 I think somebody on one of the Beeching/BR modernisation documentaries that’s been on in the past few years mentioned the idea that people with cars would drive to their local intercity station and then simply get on a fast train, rather than getting a local train and then changing, and that closure and withdrawal of minor stations and local stopping trains encouraged this. A more recent example that springs to mind is Aylesbury Vale Parkway, serving a relatively large, rural area which doesn’t have many rail stations but with the parkway station itself located on the end of a commuter route. So I wonder if the idea of parkway stations originally came about when it was realised that some areas would need to have particular stations with lots of parking, for those who own a car yet still do most of their journey by rail, but don’t have a local station within walking distance.

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I just looked at that authority on the Bristol area. Colin Maggs' books do not give any information on it being the first.

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New Pudsey, 1967-ish was one of, if not the first.

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41 minutes ago, Captain Kernow said:

I have been asked for some information about the origin of parkway type railway stations. I believe that Bristol Parkway was actually the first, in 1972, am I right in thinking this?

 

Wikipedia would seem to agree with you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_Parkway_railway_station

 

Quote

Bristol Parkway railway station, on the South Wales Main Line, is in the Stoke Gifford area in the northern suburbs of the Bristol conurbation. It is 112 miles (180 km) from London Paddington. Its three-letter station code is BPW. The station was opened in 1972 by British Rail, and was the first in a new generation of park and ride stations.

 

However, of New Pudsey it says: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Pudsey_railway_station

 

Quote

New Pudsey was one of the first railway stations to be specifically built as a railway station for motorists, being situated on the convergence of several main roads and the ring road, and after opening was featured in a film by British Transport Films for this reason.

 

Maybe the only reason it might not count as a "Parkway" station because it wasn't named as such?

Edited by ejstubbs
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"Parkway" was a suffix coined in BR days to denote a station offering large car parking and convenient links to, but not situated within, the locality it purported to serve.  Bristol Parkway was the first new station of the genre closely followed by the renaming of Bodmin Road.  

 

Several more all-new stations have appeared over the years including the newly-opened Worcestershire Parkway.

 

These stations are often (but not always) close to major motorways.  Those which have been re-named from the "Road" suffix are merely distant from the town in question.

 

Of note not all "Road" stations have become Parkways.  Beaulieu Road remains as such but its neighbour, Lyndhurst Road, has become Ashurst New Forest.  It is in the village of Ashurst which is in the New Forest and no relation to Ashurst in Sussex which also has a station.  

 

Not all Parkways have been outstanding successes.  East Midlands has never lived up to hopes though traffic can be quite steady at times.  Alfreton & Mansfield Parkway was built new on the site of a closed station to serve those two towns and surrounding areas.  Mansfield at the time was said to be the largest in the UK without a railway station.  Since then the Nottingham - Worksop route has reopened with two stations serving Mansfield directly.  The other is now plain Alfreton, devoid of Parkway and stripped of most of its services.  

 

Not all planned Parkway stations have yet appeared.  At one time Camborne and Redruth were to have been replaced with a station at Pool for which the projected name was Camborne & Redruth Parkway.  Others have been renamed to attract motorists but are more or less in the centre of town such as Didcot Parkway.  There is no other Didcot station.  The use of the Parkway suffix here dilutes or confuses the message as to what Parkway stations are about.  

 

I guess it all comes down to the business maxim of "All departments are equal but Marketing are more equal than the rest".

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Yes, I think the meaning has drifted significantly since 1972, when I recall it was all about being on a very quick rail route and good roads, but outside of an urban area.

 

Aylesbury Vale is an interesting one, because it has a twofold catchment: a large rural hinterland, and new-build suburbs of Aylesbury, and it’s sits bang at the border between new housing and lush fields. But, it isn’t really on a good road - it’s on the A41, which is fairly straight in most places, but single-carriageway. It’s got good cycle-path access though!

 

Didcot is just silly.

Edited by Nearholmer
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AVP is also a statement of intent in terms of getting Chiltern trains back farther north and linking with the Oxford - Cambridge route as was the case many years ago.  

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As I grew up in that neck of the woods and a spotty teenager (just), I remember watching something on BBC’s “Nationwide” (remember that?) that Bristol Parkway was the first “official” Parkway Station.

 

As the station was just off the M4 and M32, I seem to remember that the idea was to get traffic off the motorway, the public to park their cars and included in the price of the ticket, was a return trip to Bristol Temple Meads.  I believe it was an attempt to keep traffic out of the city centre which unfortunately didn’t really work at the time.

Edited by jools1959
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The captain and myself have been in correspondence over these photos, they've appeared (or will appear) in one of Tim's books. These were taken in 1972 just after opening, note the BR flag at half mast, presumably coinciding with the death of the Duke of Windsor in May that year.

I did believe there was much hype at the time about Bristol Parkway being the first of this type of station. I have a first day cover somewhere, must dig it out. The BR strategy of course was to compete with the recently opened M4.

its my local station, very much changed from the early 1970s when I was there spotting, complete with wonderful hydraulics thundering through routinely. I recall meeting one of my friends dad there, who'd travelled back from London on the South Wales Pullman with reverse blue grey livery. Many happy memories of the old rudimentary station building, the station now is one of the 1970s railway success stories, along with the HSTs . It is now heavily used, and is complete with a multi storey car park that roughly occupies the site where all these lovely period  cars are parked. Note the empty car parking on the site of the lifted Stoke Gifford yard. The scene is very different today, even the wonderful Brunellian brick overbridge in the distance has been demolished and replaced with a concrete eyesore as part of the GWML electrification scheme. I know I'm a bit of a dinosaur, but I really can't get used to all the OHLE that dominates the local rail sites I grew up with back in the day.

IMG_E2330.JPG.57785402b174e465346564172011df2b.JPGIMG_E2331.JPG.1f438c9d55d113fc7243ad50e61fa114.JPG

Edited by Downendian
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Re first day cover, there's one on eBay now, where I purchased the same several years ago. The blurb does mention the first Parkway station, which maybe as discussed a PR stunt as it was not necessarily the first.IMG_1159.PNG.e24d68ed53e70afa58f1dce70a28bef9.PNG

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"Parkway" was originally the newly-built M32 motorway because it goes through former parkland.  There are many "parkways" in the USA and they are all roads - the term originated there.

 

The station built as a road-rail jnterchange next to the M32 was therefore called Bristol Parkway. BR realised, serendipitously, that the name also worked for any road/rail interchange station because "park" could mean "car park", and used it more widely.

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11 hours ago, Gwiwer said:

The other is now plain Alfreton, devoid of Parkway and stripped of most of its services.  

 

Others have been renamed to attract motorists but are more or less in the centre of town such as Didcot Parkway.  There is no other Didcot station.  The use of the Parkway suffix here dilutes or confuses the message as to what Parkway stations are about.  

Alfreton probably has more services today than ever before, with a trains about every 30min between Sheffield and Nottingham, providing hourly links to Norwich, Liverpool and Leeds.  What it's mostly lost is London trains, reduced to a handful of peak hour services which in turn will cease in a year's time.  It will also lose most or all services beyond Nottingham and it is rumoured beyond Manchester too.  

 

Port Talbot Parkway is one that is in the centre of the town and has good road links, as geography forced the motorway builders to put the M4 almost through the middle of Port Talbot.  Presumably they are recognizing that for most places west of Swansea it's quicker to drive there than to get a train from a nearer station.  

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11 hours ago, Gwiwer said:

Not all Parkways have been outstanding successes.  East Midlands has never lived up to hopes though traffic can be quite steady at times.

 

East Midlands Parkway is a very useful station serving the Trent Valley area, adjacent to M1, A453 and airport. The user base appreciates that it is less congested and you can always park there, at lower cost than Loughborough or other stations. As HS2b fades into improbability, its future seems quite good.

 

Dava

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Didcot's a funny one because it wasn't built as a parkway.  The somewhat distant car park is a later addition.

 

The name changed in the 70s; in the Supertramp sing "Rudy", the Paddington station announcer still says "Reading, Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham, Bath and Bristol Temple Meads".

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'Sandwell & Dudley', on the site of Oldbury station on the WCML between Birmingham & Wolverhampton, was built on the Parkway principal, but I don't know if it's officially classed as a Parkway station. 

It is a useful connection place for destinations such as London, as it avoids the hassle of getting into Birmingham to catch an express train.

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30 minutes ago, rogerzilla said:

Didcot's a funny one because it wasn't built as a parkway.  The somewhat distant car park is a later addition.

 

The name changed in the 70s; in the Supertramp sing "Rudy", the Paddington station announcer still says "Reading, Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham, Bath and Bristol Temple Meads".

 

Didcot was the first spotting location, apart from my 'home' station of Oxford, that I visited, from 1972 onwards; I still make a point of stopping off there sometimes for a coffee and some train watching (although that's not quite the same now....).

I am afraid I will never, ever, use the Parkway suffix however, for me it will always remain plain Didcot !

 

12 hours ago, Gwiwer said:

AVP is also a statement of intent in terms of getting Chiltern trains back farther north and linking with the Oxford - Cambridge route as was the case many years ago.  

 

Although the track layout means that a train to or from the north cannot serve the platform, not without a shunt anyway !

It is however a very convenient location for a connecting bus shuttle to Quainton Road.

 

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A while a go when I was involved the north Norfolk railway a friend suggested that Holt was renamed High Kelling as that is where the station actually is but as my mate is a carpenter and stood to make some money out of making signs and obviously the more letters the more he got I suggested renaming it Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch parkway 

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41 minutes ago, F-UnitMad said:

'Sandwell & Dudley', on the site of Oldbury station on the WCML between Birmingham & Wolverhampton, was built on the Parkway principal, but I don't know if it's officially classed as a Parkway station. 

It is a useful connection place for destinations such as London, as it avoids the hassle of getting into Birmingham to catch an express train.

Well that explains the length of the platforms, never noticed the free parking but I have only ever been there as a destination.

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Quite a number of re-opened stations are now, in effect, "Parkways". Ashchurch, for example, situated close to industrial units, has a large free car park and connecting buses - basically "Tewkesbury Parkway".

 

PS Wasn't Bristol Parkway originally to have been named "Bristol North"?

Edited by Peter Kazmierczak

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19 minutes ago, Peter Kazmierczak said:

Quite a number of re-opened stations are now, in effect, "Parkways". Ashchurch, for example, situated close to industrial units, has a large free car park and connecting buses - basically "Tewkesbury Parkway".

Demand for parking there (most of it is to do with catching a train rather than working in the adjacent industrial estate) has meant that there is often no room for parking after a certain time in the morning.

 

The local rail group (Ashchurch, Tewkesbury and District Rail Promotion Group), run by my co-author John Stretton amongst others, have long been campaigning to (a) change the name to 'Tewkesbury Parkway' (you wouldn't believe the cost demanded by the national rail industry for this) and (b) to get a larger car park, in conjunction with Gloucester County Council (who are generally very supportive).

 

Oh, and they also (quite rightly) want a hourly train service in each direction, as a minimum. Not much to ask for, when many stations serving a similar area have an hourly service as a minimum).

 

23 minutes ago, Peter Kazmierczak said:

Wasn't Bristol Parkway originally to have been named "Bristol North"?

Fascinating, never heard that. I would love to know if it's true!

 

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No need to add that Bristol Parkway was definitely the first - and that it was said at the time that the name was linked to the presence of the Parkway (i.e. the M32) which was fairly new at that time (the first section had opened in 1970) apart from its obvious intention to be a park and ride station.

 

Bodmin Parkway was a very different kettle of fish in terms of naming because 'Rusty' Eplett, the then Area Manager Truro, decided he wanted a bit of publicity for Cornwall and the 'Cornish Railways' idea so he proposed the renaming from Bodmin Road to, initially I believe via the PR people at Swindon, but securing agreement also from the Regional Passenger Manager.  So although the station is indeed a 'parkway' because of the way it is used it has relatively limited parking capacity with the renaming having been far more of a PR exercise rather than indicating a major change in the station's role.   Thus Bodmin Parkway today has only 70 parking spaces (which is more than it originally had) compared with over 400 at Tiverton Parkway which, like Bristol Parkway, was specifically constructed as a 'parkway' station.

 

Didcot's change to a 'parkway' name seems to have been twofold - partly to reflect its changing role as it was very much emerging as fulfilling that function for a growing hinterland to the west, but also as a sort of promotional exercise connected with new buildings at the station.  The huge multi-storey car park is a much more recent addition having been added in the past few years but specifically provided to cater for the continuing growth of park & ride business.  FGW/GWR took the view that their investment in the car park would have provided a sufficient return before their franchise expired so decided to go ahead on that basis.

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1 hour ago, Captain Kernow said:

 

The local rail group (Ashchurch, Tewkesbury and District Rail Promotion Group), run by my co-author John Stretton amongst others, have long been campaigning to (a) change the name to 'Tewkesbury Parkway' (you wouldn't believe the cost demanded by the national rail industry for this)

 

 

Oh I can

 

Please remember that its not just a case of changing some signs. Every single UK ticket machine needs re-programming (not difficult - but time consuming and labour intensive), as would various other backroom systems like the customer information systems, automated annunciation systems (which includes those on trains remember).

 

Unofficial additions like 'for Tewkesbury signage' are admittedly simple to do - but you do have to be careful because if its deemed official then you get caught up in DDA regs which  more or less say relying on visual methods counts a discrimination against those who have eyesight problems.

 

 

Edited by phil-b259
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15 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

Didcot is just silly.

As is Port Talbot Parkway in my opinion.  Both are the only station serving their towns and should have the suffix dropped.  

 

Tiverton Parkway was indeed, as The Stationmaster says, a new station meeting the original concept i.e. near a major motorway and with good links to its town but not terribly close to it.  It did however replace the moribund Tiverton Junction at which few trains called and which was equally distant from the town but on a less convenient road route.  And not adjacent to a junction off the adjoining M5 motorway either.  

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3 hours ago, Dava said:

 

East Midlands Parkway is a very useful station serving the Trent Valley area, adjacent to M1, A453 and airport. The user base appreciates that it is less congested and you can always park there, at lower cost than Loughborough or other stations. As HS2b fades into improbability, its future seems quite good.

Having occupied an office near the original project manager and overheard bits and pieces, I'm pretty sure its primary original purpose was to capture London journeys by the fairly affluent car-borne people in the surrounding area and anything to do with the airport was icing on the cake and/or flannel to persuade the local authorities.  However from much of the potential catchment area, certainly from the southern edge of Nottingham, said car-borne travelers still tend to drive to Grantham where the London trains are quicker.  There have been various attempts to provide a link to the airport but there just aren't enough rail-air passengers to make anything viable other than calling a personal taxi - all the main cities and towns nearby have frequent direct buses to the airport, which also provide rail connections at several other stations.  

 

So I'd say EM Parkway has indeed fallen short of expectations.  Stagecoach spotted an opportunity to sell Megabus plus train journeys from London, changing there for coaches to various places further north, and this probably generates a couple of dozen passengers for each off-peak fast Nottingham train.  So far this has continued despite the train service transferring to Abellio, but I suspect it will cease in December 2020 when the 8-car HST will most likely become a 5-car 222 and the seats will be needed for full-fare rail passengers.  In the longer term if HS2 Phase 2b goes ahead then Toton will fulfil the London park and ride role much better, and I suspect the Parkway will revert to a local role serving the nearby university campus and whatever development replaces the power station.  

 

32 minutes ago, phil-b259 said:

Unofficial additions like 'for Tewkesbury signage' are admittedly simple to do - but you do have to be careful because if its deemed official then you get caught up in DDA regs which  more or less say relying on visual methods counts a discrimination against those who have eyesight problems.

At the risk of creating a "parkway" to this thread, I suspect that's what's happening at Dore and Totley, which continues to be simply Dore in many sources.  

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