Slough railway station

Slough National Rail
Place Slough
Local authority Borough of Slough
Coordinates 51°30′43″N 0°35′31″W / 51.512°N 0.592°W / 51.512; -0.592Coordinates: 51°30′43″N 0°35′31″W / 51.512°N 0.592°W / 51.512; -0.592
Grid reference SU978801
Station code SLO
Managed by Great Western Railway
Number of platforms 5
DfT category C1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2002/03 Increase 4.517 million
2004/05 Increase 4.449 million
2005/06 Decrease 4.337 million
2006/07 Increase 4.612 million
2007/08 Increase 4.879 million
2008/09 Increase 4.935 million
2009/10 Decrease 4.791 million
2010/11 Increase 5.171 million
2011/12 Increase 5.461 million
2012/13 Increase 5.574 million
2013/14 Decrease 5.534 million
Key dates Opened 1 June 1840 (1 June 1840)
Original company Great Western Railway
Pre-grouping GWR
Post-grouping GWR
4 June 1838 GWR line opened
1 June 1840 Slough station opened
8 September 1884 Station re-sited
National Rail – UK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Slough from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Slough railway station, in Slough, Berkshire, England, is served by local services operated by Great Western Railway from Paddington to Reading and main line services on the Great Western Main Line, the original line of the Great Western Railway. It is also the junction for the Windsor branch.

The station is just to the north of the town centre, on the north side of the A4.

Main line trains run to and from Oxford, Worcester Shrub Hill, Worcester Foregate Street, Hereford, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester and many other destinations.


The first section of the Great Western Railway (GWR), between the original station at Paddington and the original station at Maidenhead, opened on 4 June 1838, but although trains stopped at Slough, there was no actual station: tickets were sold at the Crown Inn.[1] This was because the Act which authorised the construction of the GWR contained a clause which forbade the construction of a station within 3 miles (4.8 km) of Eton College without the permission of the Provost and Fellows of the school; but it did not explicitly prevent trains from stopping for passengers.[2] Following the repeal of the relevant clauses in the GWR Act, the first proper station at Slough opened on 1 June 1840.[3][4] The arrival of the railway led to Queen Victoria making her first railway journey, from Slough to Bishop's Bridge near Paddington, in 1842. Later, a branch to Windsor & Eton Central was built for the Queen's greater convenience. Nowadays, the journey time between Windsor and Slough is six minutes.

Originally, the headmaster of Eton College, Dr. John Keate, had resisted efforts to place a station closer to Eton College than Slough, because he feared that it would "interfere with the discipline of the school, the studies and amusements of the boys, affecting the healthiness of the place, from the increase of floods, and endangering even the lives of boys."[5] This led to Slough station becoming, temporarily at least, the Royal Station. It is much bigger and grander than other stations in the area to accommodate its role at the time.

Windsor & Eton Central railway station (served from Slough) and Windsor & Eton Riverside railway station both opened in 1849 despite the opposition from the College.

Its approach road, Mackenzie Street, which ran from the Great West Road to the station, was much wider than an approach road would otherwise have needed to have been. This was to accommodate the Queen's carriages and entourage. Slough High Street was originally part of the Great West Road, which has now been diverted via Wellington Street, allowing the High Street to be largely pedestrianised. Thus Mackenzie Street became a cul-de-sac in 1970 when Wellington Street was redeveloped, and is now part of the Queensmere Shopping Centre. The remainder of Mackenzie Street, north of the redeveloped Wellington Street, was (along with Station Approach) renamed Brunel Way.

Opposite the railway station once stood the equally grand, in its day, Royal Hotel (now demolished).

On 1 January 1845, John Tawell, who had recently returned from Australia, murdered his lover, Sarah Hart, at Salt Hill in Slough by giving her a glass of stout poisoned with cyanide of potash. With various officials in chase, Tawell fled to Slough Station and boarded a train to Paddington. The electric telegraph had been installed between Paddington and Slough in 1843, and a message was sent ahead to Paddington with Tawell's details. Tawell was trailed and subsequently arrested, tried and executed for the murder at Aylesbury on 28 March 1845.[6] This is believed to be the first time that the telegraph had been involved in the apprehension of a murderer.

From 1 March 1883, the station was served by District Railway services running between Mansion House and Windsor & Eton Central. The service was discontinued as uneconomic after 30 September 1885.[7][8]

On 8 September 1884 the original station was closed and replaced by the present station, situated 200 metres (220 yd) to the west of the old.[4]

1900 accident

Main article: Slough rail accident

On 16 June 1900, an express train from Paddington to Falmouth Docks ran through two sets of signals at danger, and collided with a local train from Paddington to Windsor which was standing in the station. The driver of the express only noticed the signal immediately before the platform; he made an emergency brake application and reversed the engine, but was unable to prevent the collision. Five passengers on the local train were killed. The official enquiry ruled that a primary cause of the accident was the poor physical condition of the driver, due to his age (60 years) and fatigue; he had started duty at 05:00 that morning. The guard and fireman of the express were also criticised for failing to notice that their train had passed the danger signals. This accident was instrumental in the introduction of Automatic Train Control on the Great Western Railway.[9]

1994 accident

On the evening of 2 November 1994, a Class 165 Turbo crashed through the buffer stop of platform 6, after failing to slow down due to poor rail adhesion on the approach to the crossover. It is estimated that the train had only reduced its speed from 56 mph to approx. 30 mph at the time of collision, apparently skidding for some 1200 yards through 3 sets of points with an approved speed of 25 mph on the relief lines to 15 mph for the siding. Evidence gathered at the scene by investigators suggested that the train, had it not hit the buffers could have continued for another 910 yards. There had been light drizzle on the evening in question.

This was only one of a number of instances where the Class 165/166 Turbos had overshot platforms and run through red lights. These incidents led to driver retraining and the use of defensive driving techniques during the Autumn leaf fall season. The main contributing factor being the change of braking system from brake shoes (which effectively cleaned the wheel each time the brakes were applied) on the previous DMU fleet to disc brakes, which allow the mulch from the rails to adhere to the wheel, leading to poor rail adhesion. This also led to regular sanding of the rails on lines affected.

£200,000 drugs arrest

On 30 September 2009 the station made news when a passenger James Docherty was arrested in the station by the British Transport Police (BTP) for being in possession of 200,000 tablets of diazepam, a sedative sometimes sold under the brand-name Valium. The 200,000 tablets found in his suitcase are thought to be the largest amount of illegal drugs seized by the British Transport Police from one passenger.

Docherty was caught when he was noticed acting suspiciously by BTP Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Dan Sykes who upon approaching him found the tablets and then detained him.

Docherty was tried and found guilty at Reading Crown Court. He admitted possessing Class C drugs with intent to supply. He was subsequently jailed for 15 months.[10]

The station today

In the Office of Rail and Road's statistics, the railway station has 4.3 million users every year making it the 53rd busiest railway station in Great Britain. However, this does not take into account the 1.3 million additional users from Windsor & Eton Central changing platforms.

A station upgrade is planned at this major commuter station, with the addition of a baby changing facility, parcels office and 1st class lounge. It is well placed in the town, being only a short walk from the bus station and with a taxi rank directly outside. It has a CCTV security monitoring network that runs all night.

There are ticket barriers to both entrances.


The station has an intensive service to and from London Paddington (two fast and four stopping trains each hour on average on weekdays), with trains continuing westwards to Reading and Oxford. Some of the expresses continue along the Cotswold Line to Worcester Shrub Hill, Great Malvern and Hereford. A few London trains also originate/terminate here, though this only now occurs at peak periods rather than as part of the regular timetable. On Saturdays, the local service drops to half-hourly and runs to/from Oxford. [11]

On the Windsor branch, the shuttle service operates every 20 minutes each way all day (including Sundays).[12]

Virgin CrossCountry used to run services to Paddington Via Slough. These services were withdrawn in Summer 2003 as part of Virgin's Operation Princess.[13]


The 'relief' lines, used for local passenger trains towards Reading (Platform 4, left) and London Paddington (Platform 5, right)
Looking the other way, from the western end of Platform 5. This view clearly shows the difference between the original GWR-pattern platform canopy (Platforms 4, 3, 2, right) and the modern (1960s) extension on Platform 5 (left) that was installed when the centre track (between the relief lines) was removed and the station remodelled.

The original Brunel-era station buildings at Slough were of timber construction and were on the south (i.e. town) side of the railway. Two platforms were provided, with matching buildings, each having an overall roof that covered both platform and track. These platforms served 'up' (London-bound) and 'down' (Bristol-bound) trains separately; a complicated arrangement of crossings between the platforms allowed the necessary train movements.

The present station

The station was rebuilt in its present form in the late 19th century, the fifth station to be built on the site. The buildings have survived largely intact, although some of the waiting room buildings on the island platform were demolished in the 1970s before the station was Grade II listed.

It is a near-unique design on the Great Western Railway, only one other, much smaller, station was built with the same features. The most notable architectural details are the unusual scalloped roof tiles and the decorative ironwork around the top of the buildings.

Evolution of station layout

Since the end of steam traction, the layout at Slough has been somewhat simplified. In its heyday, every corner of the station featured a siding or bay platform of some kind. Apparently inexplicable architectural clues remain around the station to show where these facilities were.

Parallel to and south of the current Platform 1, the 'Windsor Bay', were two additional sidings and a platform-level loading bank. These were latterly used for loading tanks, from the Royal Alexandra Barracks in Windsor, on to flat trucks (e.g., 'Rectank' and 'Warwell' wagons) for onward transport by rail. The sidings were removed in the 1980s and replaced by an access road, at track level, under the Stoke Road Bridge to the West Car Park – built on part of the engine shed site. One siding was the same length as the Windsor Bay line, and (as of 2009) its buffers are still in situ, even though the line itself has long since gone.

At the London end of Platform 2 ('Down Main' services) was a very short siding, at an odd angle to the track. This was probably used for loading carriages onto flat wagons. It was removed a long time ago.

Slough station
Up arrow London Paddington

Great Western Main Line


B416 William St

turntable lifted

Slough Shed 81B closed 1964

Slough to Windsor & Eton Line

Horlicks factory sidings

West Curve lifted
Stoke Poges Lane
Down arrow Reading

Platform 6, for stopping services to London, was provided with a siding between the main and relief lines at the east end of the station. This was used for storing the local train between services. The siding was removed in the 1980s.

At the west end of Platform 5, which is on the north side of the station, were two long sidings alongside a loading bank. These were used to load vans and trucks manufactured at Ford's Langley factory onto flat wagons. In the 1970s, one siding was lifted and the area turned into a parcels bay, complete with awning. It was not uncommon to see several parcels vans stabled there, and occasionally a Class 08 shunter from Slough Goods Yard. This remaining siding was truncated beyond the end of the platform during the 1990s and is now used as a stabling point for a tamper/liner or similar kind of track machine.

There was another bay platform – at the west end of the station, between Platforms 3 and 4. Examination of the platform canopies at this point will reveal a gap where the canopies do not meet. This was where the bay platform track was, and the gap was to allow steam from the engines to escape. This bay platform was used for the shuttle service to the Slough Trading Estate Railway station on the Trading Estate. The bay was taken out of use when services to the Trading Estate finished in 1956.[15][16][17]

An ex-Great Western Railway building on the station site houses the headquarters of the Slough & Windsor Railway Society.[18]

"Station Jim"

"Station Jim"

"Station Jim" (or Dog Jim), based at Slough railway station, was a Canine Collector for the Great Western Railway Widows and Orphans Fund from 1894 until his death in 1896.[19] After his death he was stuffed and placed on display in a glass cabinet with a collection slot.[20][21] Station Jim's display cabinet, which can be found on Platform 5, includes a copy of the original inscription, written after he died, that describes his life story:

Dog Jim was first brought to Slough station when he was about three months old. He was like a ball of wool then, and could be carried about in an overcoat pocket. The first trick taught him was to get over the stairs of the footbridge, and he learnt it so well that he never once crossed the metals from the time he was brought here to the time of his death.

He started his duties as Canine Collector for the Great Western Railway Widows' and Orphans' Fund when he was about four months old but, because he was in bad health, he was only actually collecting about two years or so. Yet he managed to place about £40 to the account of the Fund. He only once had a piece of gold put in his box — a half sovereign. On several occasions half crowns were found, but the majority of the coins he collected were pennies and halfpennies. After a time he was taught to bark whenever he received a coin, which caused a great deal of amusement to his numerous patrons. One Sunday during the summer of 1896, a hospital parade was organised at Southall, and his trainer was asked to take him up there to collect. The result was that when his boxes were opened by the Treasurer 265 coins were in them. There were only about five pieces of silver, but when it is remembered that he barked for each coin given him, this must be regarded as a good afternoon's work.

His railway journeys were few in number. On one occasion he went to Leamington; that was his longest ride. Another time he got into a train and went to Paddington, but was seen by one of the guards and promptly sent back again. Another day he got into a train and was taken into Windsor. The officials saw him, and wanted to put him in the next train home, but he would not agree to that, and walked back through Eton.

He knew a great many amusing tricks. He would sit up and beg, or lie down and "die"; he could make a bow when asked, or stand up on his hind legs. He would get up and sit in a chair and look quite at home with a pipe in his mouth and cap on his head. He would express his feelings in a very noisy manner when he heard any music. If anyone threw a lighted match or a piece of lighted paper on the ground he would extinguish it with a growl. If a ladder was placed against the wall he would climb it. He would play leap frog with the boys; he would escort them off the station if told to do so, but would never bite them. At a St. John Ambulance Examination held at this station he laid down on one of the stretchers and allowed himself to be bandaged up with the rest of the "injured". He was a splendid swimmer and a very good house dog. He died suddenly in his harness on the platform on the evening of November 19th 1896, and was afterwards placed here by voluntary contributions from a number of the residents in Slough and the staff at this station.[22]

The story of the Slough "Station Jim" is mentioned in the historical background feature accompanying the BBC movie Station Jim (2001). Although the movie involves an orphanage, the movie dog and storyline are not based on the true story, and the movie is not set in Slough.[23]


  1. MacDermot, E.T. (1927). History of the Great Western Railway, vol. I: 1833–1863. Paddington: Great Western Railway. pp. 54–55,57–58,857.
  2. MacDermot 1927, p. 57
  3. MacDermot 1927, p. 58
  4. 1 2 Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 213. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. R508.
  5. "When Railways Were New". Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  6. MacDermot 1927, pp. 619–621
  7. Rose, Douglas (December 2007) [1980]. The London Underground: A Diagrammatic History (8th ed.). Harrow Weald: Capital Transport. ISBN 978-1-85414-315-0.
  8. Day, John R.; Reed, John (2008) [1963]. The Story of London's Underground (10th ed.). Harrow: Capital Transport. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-85414-316-7.
  9. Yorke, Lt Col H L (1 September 1900). Report on the Accident at Slough (PDF). Board of Trade. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  10. "Jail for £200,000 Glasgow drug dealer caught in Slough". BBC News. 29 January 2010.
  11. GB eNRT December 2015 Edition, Table 117
  12. GB eNRT December 2015 Edition, Table 119
  13. VT3 timetable 2003
  14. "Britain from Above". English Heritage. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  15. picture 80 and caption, Slough: A Pictorial History, Judith Hunter & Isobel Thompson, Phillimore & Co, Chichester, 1991
  16. "Crossrail: Reading the Future". London Reconnections. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  17. "Slough railway station". OpenBuildings. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  18. "Slough & Windsor Railway Society". Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  19. Station Jim Slough History Online, Retrieved on 6 April 2008
  20. Lake, Matt; Moran, Mark; Sceurman, Mark (2007). Weird England: Your Travel Guide to England's Local Legends... p. 129. ISBN 1-4027-4229-0.
  21. Richards, Jeffrey; MacKenzie, John M (1986). The Railway Station: A Social History. Oxford University Press. p. 313. ISBN 0-19-215876-7.
  22. Slough Museum Collections Card – photograph of the inscription for "Station Jim"
  23. "Victorian facts" – Station Jim (2001) – DVD released in 2007

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Slough railway station.
Preceding station National Rail Following station
Reading   Great Western Railway
Main line services
Great Western Main Line
Burnham or Maidenhead   Great Western Railway
Commuter services
Great Western Main Line
  Langley or Hayes & Harlington
Windsor & Eton Central   Great Western Railway
Commuter services
Windsor branch
  Langley or Hayes & Harlington or Terminus
  Future Development  
Preceding station   Crossrail   Following station
towards Reading
Elizabeth line
towards Abbey Wood or Shenfield
  Historical services  
Preceding station   London Underground   Following station
District line
towards Mansion House
Chalvey Halt
Line open, station closed
  Great Western Railway
Windsor branch
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