Initially, this part of Buckingham was used to quarry Buckingham Marble. In 1857, the building became Castle Iron Foundry, a group of local people who wanted to build their own farm equipment instead of buying it. Thomas Rickett was the driving force and created new and innovative steam cars and farm equipment.

They sold one car to the Duke of Sutherland, who became very popular for using the vehicle near his home at Cliveden House as an emergency fire service, driving to fires followed by a self-propelled fire engine!

The steam car only drove at 10 miles per hour, and despite interest from Prince Albert and Queen Victoria the foundry closed after just a few years.

Next this building became a mill, and after that Thew, Hooker and Gilbey, a dairy building. The milk products produced were new and experimental. Operating through World War 1, the War Office sent 15 tons of Hooker’s Bivouac Cocoa Cubes a week to soldiers in France as well as to British Prisoners of War. Women working in the factory would sometimes write notes on the back of the labels to pass encouraging messages to soldiers.

The University car park opposite this building was the location of Buckingham Train Station, from 1853 to 1966 and linked Banbury to Bletchley through Buckingham. The original station was a wooden platform on a field by Lenborough Road, and was considerably less convenient!

Today, if you follow the footpath at the back of the car park you can follow the old train line in both directions along a nature corridor, with great views of Buckingham from the old railway bridge on Hunter Street. If you follow the path in the other direction, look out for redish water in the ponds which could be evidence of buried sections of track.

Image of a train at the station with thanks to Buckingham Archives.