Feltham Marshalling Yards - Time Line
1900 Profitability was declining for the London & South Western Railway.  A particular problem was that goods traffic from other companies lines could not be combined within LSWR area and was sorted at Brent and Willesden yards.  There were separate flows from Nine Elms.  Efficiency prompted a search for a company Marshalling Yard, and in 1900 a 30 acre site at Sheerwater near Byfleet was considered but rejected as too remote.  The next year land at Feltham Junction with a frontage to the Hounslow to Hanworth road was offered to LSWR but a price could not be agreed.


The shunting yard at Brentford was enlarged to accept additional traffic but was incapable of further expansion.


After looking at American practice, the first ‘hump’ yard opened at Wath near Rotherham to sort coal wagons from the many local mines.


Negotiations commenced for the purchase land between Feltham Junction and Feltham station to the south of the main lines to provide a ‘shunting yard’  This was orchard and arable land used for market gardening by Benjamin Emmett and owned by Sir Frederick Pollock of Little Park Farm, Hanworth.


The London and South Western Railway Bill was passed, after Feltham UDC had dropped a petition of objection.  One clause authorised the purchase and use for railway purposes of 41½ acres of land abutting Harlington Road, Feltham.


Land purchase at Feltham completed by this date but Sir Herbert Walker, who had become General Manager in 1912, had visited the USA and was impressed by the large hump yards such as Enola on the Pennsylvania Railway (constructed in 1905.)   He persuaded the LSWR directors that a larger, more modern yard was needed and a senior staff team visited yards in England and Europe before deciding on a double yard hump layout for Feltham.  Additional land to the east was then purchased in 1915.


Plans were prepared for Feltham Concentration Yard and agreed by the LSWR board, similar in basic design to the Wath yard, it was the first general gravitational hump yard, drawing on yards developed in Europe and the USA, and was to be ‘the highest development of this class of yard in operation’ .  The further land to the east brought the overall site to 79 acres, necessitating the diversion and covering of the River Crane, and the adjacent Mill Stream and the Water Boards Ring Main being covered.  A wide and paved tunnel for pedestrians and led horses ran adjacent to the Crane, replacing footpaths that crossed this extended area and serving also as a flood overflow channel.
Feltham UDC main concern was the widening of the Harlington Rd bridge to 70 ft which was completed in the first phase.


At the end of 1917 the first 8 sidings on the Feltham side were open. 


Remainder of the Yard sidings were constructed, with the assistance of some 200 German POWs


Work started in land off Bedfont Lane close to Feltham station of a 128 home estate village, - Southern Avenue was the main estate road (now redeveloped).


With the construction of the locomotive depot  the Yard was fully complete at a cost, including the housing estate, of  over £550,000- substantially more then the estimated cost of £250,000. 
The completed depot consisted of two separate yards- the down yard with 17 sidings, the up yard with 16 sidings- both with reception sidings, a goods transfer shed, separate sorting sidings, a wagon repair shop and a shed for 42 locomotives.  In all 30 miles of single track.  In addition to the long pedestrian tunnel there were two short pedestrian tunnels under the humps- where the lines for each yard came together- for shunting workers to cross the yards.

1920’s & 30’s

Feltham handled 2,500 wagons daily, 50 down and 26 up arrivals and18 down and 46 up departures.  A fully mechanised hump yard with wagon retarders -not available at Feltham-was constructed at Whitemoor near March in Cambridgeshire and the Toton yard was partly upgraded, but non hump yards were also still being constructed.


The Marshalling yards were a target in bombing raids.  One bomb destroying 150 wagons and another the ‘hump’, but the yards always fully operational within 24 hours.  Traffic levels increased and night-time working was made dangerous also by the need to keep lighting to a minimum.  Feltham Yards played a crucial role in assembling and transferring arms, munitions, petrol and other supplies to the embarkation areas in the south and south west during the allied invasion of Europe in 1944.


No information on staffing levels is available for Feltham, but In the post war period staffing at Colwick, a yard of similar size was-1 Yardmaster, 3 asst yardmasters, 1 chief clerk, 7 clerks, 6 traffic inspectors, 18 class1 shunters 3 class 2 train dispatchers, 52 class 3 shunters.  Inc chasers,3 class 4 chunters,9 number takers,3 telegraph lads, 4 callers up,3 lampmen  for taillamps,I signal lampman with lad, 260 guards
Under the 1955 BR modernisation plan some 15 large yards were opened or reconstructed between 1956 and 1963; including Temple Mills and Ripple Lane in E London.  Other yards including Feltham were retained but received no investment.


This was the year of the Beeching Report and the subsequent ‘rationalisation’ of the rail network.  The further falling away of general goods traffic and an emphasis on major bulk freight coupled with the increasing use of road transport following motorway investment greatly reduced the need for traditional marshalling yards, Including those newly built.


Feltham Yards closed, after decline in use through road transport and containerisation, and the use of alternative rail routes.  Up to 200 staff lost their jobs.