Buckinghamshire's first railways were built in the mid-1830s. The London & Birmingham Railway (part of the London & North Western Railway from 1846 and now the southern section of the West Coast main line) cut across the north-east corner of the county. The Great Western Railway (out of Paddington), on the other hand, ran neatly through the southernmost tip. These were important main lines, but were essentially peripheral to the county. In between was a vast expanse of agricultural land dotted with tiny hamlets and small market towns. The history of railway development in Buckinghamshire is the penetration of this 'heart of darkness' by the shining light of Victorian progress in the shape of the steam locomotive.
The first invasions into this heartland were made in the early 1850s. In the north the Buckinghamshire Railway, a London & North Western affiliate, sent out tendrils from Bletchley to Oxford, with a branch to Banbury. In the south the Wycombe Railway, sponsored by the Great Western, connected the prosperous market town of High Wycombe to the Great Western main line at Maidenhead. A decade later the centre of the :ounty was covered by extensions of the Wycombe Railway to Oxford via Marne and Aylesbury. In the late 1860s the Aylesbury & Buckingham Railway formed a link between the Great Western and London & North Western systems, and the early 1870s saw the branch network completed with lines to Watlington, Marlow and Brill.
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