Newbury Town Council is pleased to announce the unveiling of its ninth blue plaque. This commemorates the central role that was performed by the former Didcot, Newbury, and Southampton Railway in conveying service personnel and military materials from the Midlands and the North of England to the Port of Southampton in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe on 6th June 1944.
The plaque will be located outside Newbury Railway Station, by kind permission of Network Rail and Great Western Railway. It will be unveiled at 11am on Tuesday 29th January by the Mayor of Newbury, Cllr Margo Payne. The Newbury Society has generously contributed £100 towards the cost.
The DNS Railway constituted the heavy transport link for this vital supply. At its peak, it carried 120 train movements a day. To accommodate the traffic, the line between Didcot and two miles south of Newbury was doubled. Despite its name, it terminated at Winchester, and depended for the final part of its route on other railway lines. Unfortunately, it never proved profitable from its opening in 1882/1885 or after 1945, and was eventually closed in 1964.
Cllr Anthony Pick, Chairman of the Newbury Town Council Heritage Working Group, said,
“D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion in history, and the planning and preparations for it were on a corresponding scale. It is right that the involvement of the Didcot, Newbury, and Southampton Railway is recognised and commemorated. I am grateful to the late Mike James for originally bringing this to my attention, and to the railway historian Kevin Robertson for confirming its importance. The Town Council is grateful to the Newbury Society for its consistent support of the blue plaque programme.”
Managing Director for Great Western Railway, Mark Hopwood said, “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to help with the siting of the plaque. Railways, both freight and passenger, have played a major role in the economic development and wellbeing of everyone who lives and works in the area, and it is great to see Newbury Town Council marking their contribution. Rail still plays a pivotal economic role and the line through Newbury continues to be a very important corridor, which is why it has recently been upgraded to accommodate new electric trains. It is great to see that in all the promotion of the new improvements, the solid foundations of the past are not forgotten.”