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David Pibworth | The Blog


The Arches Theatre: The Great Flood Of 1951

Shocking to see ...

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Last week I shared a picture of The Arches Theatre during the floods in 1951 on social media. It got so many good reactions I thought I'd tell you some fascinating history about the Arches and the railway line that used to run above ...

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

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

copyright: the arches theatre / david pibworth productions

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The railway closed to passengers on 5th March 1962 and two years later goods facilities were withdrawn as well.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 Theatre under so much water!"

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 Theatre this summer. But as we always say, 'the show will go on whatever the weather'. Just come prepared - dinghy and all!

For information of our summer productions and to purchase tickets, please visit

Until next time ...


Would you like to know more?

If you'd like to discover more about the Arches Theatre, do give me a call on 01234 241357, leave a comment below or click here to ping over an email and let's see how I can help you..

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About David Pibworth ...


David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.

Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.

He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.

He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.

He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.

David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.