The first section of the Great Northern Railway (GNR) (from Louth to a junction with the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway at Grimsby) opened on 1 March 1848; but the southern section of the main line (from Maiden Lane to Peterborough) was not opened until 7 August 1850. One of the 1850 stations was Arlesey and Shefford Road. It was renamed Arlesey and Shefford Road in March 1860, but the shorter name of Arlesey was used between July 1893 and July 1895.
The GNR became part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) during the Grouping of 1923. On 1 March 1933 the LNER renamed the station Arlesey and Henlow. The station passed to the Eastern Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948.
The station and the adjacent Three Counties railway station were closed to passengers on 5 January 1959 and to goods on 28 November 1960 and demolished soon after due to declining receipts.
The line, however, remained open; and the present station built by Network SouthEast opened on 3 October 1988 on the site of the original station in the Church End area of Arlesey. The rebuilt station was designed to be fully accessible to wheelchairs but was initially unusable by those who couldn’t leave their chair as there were no facilities for ‘loading and unloading’. First Capital Connect provided the station with ramps in 2006, and users now simply have to ring 24 hours in advance for assistance.
In 2006 Her Majesty The Queen visited the station.
The station’s platforms are currently being lengthened to accommodate 12 car trains scheduled to serve the station upon completion of the Thameslink Programme.
Railway Accidents at Arlesey
Although the Railway Archive lists most UK railway accidents, it does not include the one you mention, Ian.
However, I have found the following in the Steam World archive:
“Crawley, John. Accident at Arlesey. 42-7.
On the evening of 4 July 1954 express freight train No. 1266 for Leeds from King’s Cross hauled by A3 No. 60058 Blair Atholl was derailed in the sand drag at the end of the four track section due to the failure to observe the signals. The footplate crew, Driver T.W. Mayhew and fireman H. Holroyd, were fortunate not be killed. The Aberdonian was following on the fast line, but the rapid response of the signalmen at Arlesey and Three Counties and the alertness of the footplate crew on the sleeping car express brought it to a stand. Black & white photographs of wreckage taken on 6 July 1954 (days in captions do not mesh), of King’s Cross breakdown crane and of breakdown gang with GNR clerestory support vehicle at Three Counties on Sunday 11 July, and of damaged A3 and its tender (probably still in livery other than Brunswick green).”
The express was Northbound’The Elizabethan’. Hauled by an A4. Stopped by emergency detonators after it had passed through Three Counties. It was seconds away form going into the wreck.
I WAS THE ONLY WITNESS. But was never asked for statement.
Standing on the footbridge train-spotting. I thought the Northbound goods would plough along the platform and hit the bridge.
It never braked although the Slow Line signals were against it. Track goes 2-1 through Arlesey Station and it didn’t brake but jumped the points doing about 50 MPH. Fortunately it went down the embankment into a ditch and didn’t plough along the platform to hit the bridge on which I was standing. I, a 13 year-old, was scared s**tless.
Signalman leaned out of the window, swore because all his lines were cut. Then dashed to the station to use the phone there to stop the trains.
Driver uninjured. Fireman broke his arm.
Perishable goods, fruit and veg. spilled out of the trucks which went across all 4 tracks.
The memory is as clear today as it was 61 years ago.
A royal welcome
They royal party were greeted by a group of wellwishers and Her Majesty received posies from Ellen Dart, 8 and Martha Trendell, 5 before a police escort led the way to Samuel Whitbread Community College.