The Arches Theatre: The Great Flood Of 1951

Last week I shared a picture of The Arches Theatre during the floods in 1951 on social media. It got so many good reactions ...

The Arches were part of Midland Railway's Bedford to Northampton line, which opened on 10th June 1872. The line began in Bedford and served Turvey station, also in Bedfordshire, Olney in Buckinghamshire and both Horton and Northampton.

"Initially, there were five trains that ran in both directions each day!"

However, by the 1950s that number was reduced. The line was never very busy with passengers as the towns and villages the line served were small, and there was no significant uptake in train travel. In later years, fewer people were moving to these areas, so there was no real need for this line anymore.

The railway closed to passengers on 5th March 1962 and two years later goods facilities were withdrawn as well. It appears that the lines busiest years were during the war when a MOD depot was opened in 1939 in Piddington. The line was closed between Olney and Turvey around 1940 so that that part of the railway could be used as a siding to store war materials.

"I've always known that the venue is on a flood plain, but it was a real shock seeing The Arches under so much water in the photograph!"

Do you know any more about the history of the railway line? Have you got any old photographs that you can share? It would be fantastic to see them. I'm hoping that we won't have any flooding like we did in 1951 at The Arches this summer. But as we always say, 'the show will go on whatever the weather'.

Just come prepared - dinghy and all!


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