Bramley’s Secret Railway in the Woods

The Secret Railway in the Woods is the first comprehensive history of the extensive military railway that existed at the Central Ammunition Depot, Bramley.

 

A railway born of the First World War that subsequently played a critical role in the Second World War and would ultimately survive, largely unaltered and still in everyday use, until the late 1980s.

 

Mention military railways and the likes of Longmoor or Bicester will probably spring to mind. Those with an interest in the subject could probably add others but I suspect that few would mention the once extensive railway at Bramley. Shrouded in official secrecy for most of its operational life, very little has previously been written on the Bramley Military Railway. Even the name “Bramley Military Railway” is somewhat of a misnomer – insofar as it gained any name, it appears to have been “The War Department Railway” or, colloquially, “The Dub Dee”. This book is therefore a first attempt to rectify what the authors regard as a serious omission in the history of military railways in the United Kingdom. It draws heavily on primary source material and contains a significant number of previously unpublished photographs, plans and diagrams including details of all locomotives, rolling stock, railcars, trackwork, railway operating practices and principal buildings.

 

Primarily a book about a railway, inevitably it incorporates a wider history of CAD Bramley and Bramley Camp from 1917 to the present day. Although not intended as an in-depth history of either, there is always a need to put a railway into context. A railway is always built for a purpose and that purpose is never purely for the sake of having a railway. Without some historical context – why CAD Bramley was established and the role it fulfilled; the book would be very incomplete.

 

It is now approaching 50 years since CAD Bramley closed and nearly 40 years since the site was last used as an ammunition depot with an operational railway. Passing the site today on the Reading – Basingstoke line, it is obvious from the fencing and warning notices that the much of the area remains Ministry of Defence property and therefore off-limits to the public. No trace of the railway on the site can now be glimpsed from the mainline and indeed most of the track has been lifted. However, within the site some rusting and overgrown track still remains, together with numerous buildings, some still in use and others deserted and derelict.

 

‘The Secret Railway in the Woods’ by Chris Hegg & Laurence Bindley. A4 hardback. 308 pages. 170 photographs (126 colour & 44 monochrome), 91 maps, plans and diagrams. £38.95 incl. UK P&P. For more details or to order a copy of our book on CAD Bramley & the Bramley Military Railway please go to: oenpublishing.co.uk

 

Chris and Lawrence will be giving a talk/book-signing about CAD Bramley and its railway at the Village Hall in Sherfield on Loddon on Thursday 6th July, 2023.

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