The History of Wolverton

The town of Wolverton was founded in 1838 by The London and Birmingham Railway Company to house its workforce and was originally known as Wolverton Station. The area was chosen because it sits roughly halfway between London and Birmingham. The nearby Grand Union Canal ensured that there was free movement of goods. 

The Railway Company built the first terraces in the 1840s, neat redbrick terraced houses and shops that are still standing today. It also provided public buildings, some of which you can still see. The LBR became London & North Western Railway Company in 1845.

Historic accounts of Wolverton are often accompanied by photographs of hundreds of men in flat caps lining the Stratford Road as they left from the works. The works siren could be heard throughout the town and beyond to signal time for work, for lunch and for home.

photo of the water tower

The Water Tower, Wolverton

photo of Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton 

Photo of the Old School

The Old School, Old Wolverton 

Photo of The Old Bath House

The Old Bath House, Wolverton 

Arts and Crafts Cottages, Wolverton 

The Elms, the old doctor's surgery, Wolverton 

The old fire station, Wolverton 

Blue Bridge, Wolverton 

Royal Links to Wolverton and Greenleys

Queen Elizabeth II visited Milton Keynes on quite a few occasions, both as a Princess and as Queen accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh. We know many of you will have some very fond memories of her visits to Wolverton and to Greenleys throughout the years.

Wolverton Works, 11th March 1948

Brilliant sunshine and cheering crowds greeted Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth on her visit to Wolverton Works to view the coach that had been built for her and the Duke of Edinburgh. Whilst officially termed a ‘private visit’ over 5000 people lined the route from Wolverton Works to Wolverton Station. The royal coach consisted of bedrooms, bathrooms, lounge, dining room, kitchen and offices. As she left the coach the Princess commented that everything they needed was there and it was ‘lovely’. With a soft green colour predominating, the coach was complete down to the last detail, the table was set for lunch, there was soap in the bathrooms and vases of daffodils adorned the tables. Frequently during the tour the Princess stopped to chat with workers and asked many questions. She showed a lively interest in all the processes of building a railway coach. The tour came to an end after nearly two hours of continuous walking. As the Princess got out onto the street a loud roar went up from the crowd who had been waiting outside all afternoon.

By Melanie Jeavons, courtesy of the Living Archive.

Wolverton Works, Friday 4th April 1966

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Wolverton Works on an unseasonably cold day in April - Her Majesty wore a brown fur coat! Her visit was covered in the Wolverton Express newspaper in an eight-page souvenir of the royal tour which also included a visit to Stony Stratford and to Newport Pagnell. Many local people and children at the schools in town lined the streets to wave and cheer as her car went past. You can view a video of her visit to the Works on the Living Archive website.

St John Ambulance, Greenleys, 29th November 2007

In 2007 The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh paid their first visit to our then town in 15 years as part of Milton Keynes’ 40th celebrations. Her Majesty officially opened The Hub, Stadium:MK and the new St John Ambulance Centre in Greenleys. The Queen became Sovereign Head of the Order of St John upon her accession in 1952.

The Royal Train

Wolverton Works is the world’s oldest and longest continuously open standard gauge railway works, opening in 1838 and home to the Royal Train since 1842. Queen Victoria and other passengers of the early Royal Train used the facilities in Wolverton to rest while the train was being serviced and replenished with supplies. Her carriages were noted for their sumptuous decoration and ornate furniture but were very dated by the time Edward VII succeeded to the throne. His carriages were decorated to resemble the Royal Yacht and updated to include modern features such as an electric fan and a speaker for the wireless set. The current royal carriages are maroon coloured and inside the furnishings are fairly plain, having not been updated much since the 1970s. The carriages include bedrooms, bathrooms and sitting rooms, everything you would need while travelling across the country.

In 1901, Queen Victoria’s coffin was conveyed to Windsor using the Royal Train and the coffins of both King George V and King George VI were conveyed from Sandringham to London using the train. It was thought that the Royal Train would be used to convey Her Majesty’s Coffin from Edinburgh to London via the East Coast Main Line. However, it was announced by the Palace that Her Majesty’s Coffin would depart in a Royal Air Force aircraft from Edinburgh Airport to RAF Northolt and that the State Hearse would then convey the Coffin to Buckingham Palace.

You can find out more about the Royal Train, see images and have a virtual tour of the carriages at the National Railway Museum’s website. There is also a wealth of information on the Royal Train online.


The Queen visiting Wolverton Works in 1966 with Mr Fred Beales (L) and an unknown gentleman, possibly Mr Geoffrey Tew (R). Thank you to the Beales family for the photo.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in Greenleys in 2007.
Thank you to Gloria for the photo.