Brill railway station was the terminus of a small railway line in Buckinghamshire, England, known as the Brill Tramway. Built and owned by the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, it was later operated by London’s Metropolitan Railway, and in 1933 briefly became one of the two north-western termini of the London Underground, despite being 45 miles (72 km) and over two hours’ travelling time from the City of London.
3⁄4 of a mile (1.2 km) north of Brill, the station was opened in March 1872 as the result of lobbying from local residents and businesses. As the line was cheaply built and ungraded and the locomotives were of poor quality, services were very slow, initially taking 1 hour 45 minutes to traverse the six miles (10 km) from Brill to the junction station with main line services at Quainton Road. Although serving a lightly populated area and little-used by passengers, the station was a significant point for freight traffic, particularly as a carrier of milk from the dairy farms of Buckinghamshire to Aylesbury and London. A brickworks was also attached to the station, but it proved unable to compete with nearby rivals and closed within a few years of opening.
During the 1890s, plans were made to extend the tramway to Oxford, but the scheme was abandoned. Instead, the operation of the line was taken over by the Metropolitan Railway in 1899, and the line became one of the railway’s two north-western termini. It was upgraded and better-quality locomotives were introduced making the journey time three times faster.
In 1933 the Metropolitan Railway came under public control and became the Metropolitan line of London Transport. The management of London Transport aimed to reduce goods services, and it was felt that there was little chance of the more distant parts of the former Metropolitan Railway ever becoming viable passenger routes. The line was closed on 30 November 1935, and all buildings and infrastructure at Brill associated with the line were sold at auction. Most of the infrastructure was subsequently demolished, though three station cottages survive.
On 23 September 1868 the small Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway (A&BR) opened, linking the Great Western Railway‘s station at Aylesbury to the London and North Western Railway‘s Oxford to Bletchley line at Verney Junction. On 1 September 1894, London’s Metropolitan Railway (MR) reached Aylesbury, and shortly afterwards connected to the A&BR line, with local MR services running to Verney Junction from 1 April 1894. Through trains from the MR’s London terminus at Baker Street began on 1 January 1897.
Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, had long had an interest in railways, and had served as chairman of the London and North Western Railway from 1852 until 1861. In the early 1870s he decided to build a light railway to transport freight from his estates in Buckinghamshire to the A&BR’s line at Quainton Road.[note 1] The first stage of the route, known as the Wotton Tramway, was a 4-mile (6.4 km) line from Quainton Road via Wotton to a coal siding at Kingswood, and opened on 1 April 1871. Intended for use by horse trams, the line was built with longitudinal sleepers, to avoid horses tripping.