SideTracked caches are not designed to take you to a magical place with a breath-taking view. They are just a distraction for the weary geocaching traveller, but anyone else can go and find it too.
This cache has been set to create a cache and dash near Stewartby Station. The cache is not located located on railway property but is only a short stroll from the station.
When first opened in 1905 the station was a halt serving the small village of Wootton Pillinge, a largely rural community that, in 1897, had become the site of nearby brickworks. The plant was served by sidings close to and alongside the halt which were controlled by a signal box; the halt was simply constructed with a platform at ground level constructed out of sleepers.
Stewartby was one of the last stations in the UK to retain oil lighting; the lights not being replaced until some time after June 1981. A new signalling control centre was built as Ridgmont as part of the Bedford to Bletchley route modernisation in 2004. The centre replaced all the signal boxes on the route, and the level crossing gates were replaced with lifting barriers at that time. The original gates had previously been replaced with new metal gates in the 1980s. As part of the route modernisation the 1959 up platform was replaced with a new platform on the south side of the level crossing. The reasons for staggered platforms is to avoid road traffic being held up by trains waiting at the platform before proceeding over the line.
In the 1980s the level crossing had warning signs in English and Italian, due to the large number of Italian POWs that stayed on to work at the brickworks after WWII.
At the time of publishing, all the intermediate stations on the Marston Vale line, other than Lidlington, have SideTracked caches. No doubt Lidlington will appear shortly! If you are lucky, so might Bedford Midland and Bletchley!
Photos and text shamelessly borrowed from previous Sidetracked Stewartby cache GC54NC2.