Slough railway station, in Slough, Berkshire, England, is served by local services operated by First Great Western from Paddington to Reading and intercity services on the Great Western Main Line, the original line of the Great Western Railway. It is also the junction for the Windsor branch. The station is just to the north of the town centre, on the north side of the A4.

The first section of the Great Western Railway (GWR), between the original station at Paddington and the original station at Maidenhead, opened on 4 June 1838, but although trains stopped at Slough, there was no actual station: tickets were sold at the Crown Inn. This was because the Act which authorised the construction of the GWR contained a clause which forbade the construction of a station within 3 miles (4.8 km) of Eton College without the permission of the Provost and Fellows of the school; but it did not explicitly prevent trains from stopping for passengers. Following the repeal of the relevant clauses in the GWR Act, the first proper station at Slough opened on 1 June 1840. The arrival of the railway led to Queen Victoria making her first railway journey, from Slough to Bishop's Bridge near Paddington, in 1842. Later, a branch to Windsor & Eton Central was built for the Queen's greater convenience. Nowadays, the journey time between Windsor and Slough is six minutes. Originally, the headmaster of Eton College, Dr. John Keate, had resisted efforts to place a station closer to Eton College than Slough, because he feared that it would "interfere with the discipline of the school, the studies and amusements of the boys, affecting the healthiness of the place, from the increase of floods, and endangering even the lives of boys." This led to Slough station becoming, temporarily at least, the Royal Station. It is much bigger and grander than other stations in the area to accommodate its role at the time. Windsor & Eton Central railway station (served from Slough) and Windsor & Eton Riverside railway station both opened in 1849 despite the opposition from the College. Its approach road, Mackenzie Street, which ran from the Great West Road to the station, was much wider than an approach road would otherwise have needed to have been. This was to accommodate the Queen's carriages and entourage. Slough High Street was originally part of the Great West Road, which has now been diverted via Wellington Street, allowing the High Street to be largely pedestrianised. Thus Mackenzie Street became a cul-de-sac in 1970 when Wellington Street was redeveloped, and is now part of the Queensmere Shopping Centre. The remainder of Mackenzie Street, north of the redeveloped Wellington Street, was (along with Station Approach) renamed Brunel Way. Opposite the railway station once stood the equally grand, in its day, Royal Hotel (now demolished). On 1 January 1845, John Tawell, who had recently returned from Australia, murdered his lover, Sarah Hart, at Salt Hill in Slough by giving her a glass of stout poisoned with cyanide of potash. With various officials in chase, Tawell fled to Slough Station and boarded a train to Paddington. The electric telegraph had been installed between Paddington and Slough in 1843, and a message was sent ahead to Paddington with Tawell's details. Tawell was trailed and subsequently arrested, tried and executed for the murder at Aylesbury on 28 March 1845. This is believed to be the first time that the telegraph had been involved in the apprehension of a murderer. From 1 March 1883, the station was served by District Railway services running between Mansion House and Windsor. The service was discontinued as uneconomic after 30 September 1885. On 8 September 1884 the original station was closed and replaced by the present station, situated 200 metres (220 yd) to the west of the old.

1900 accident
On 16 June 1900, an express train from Paddington to Falmouth Docks ran through two sets of signals at danger, and collided with a local train from Paddington to Windsor which was standing in the station. The driver of the express only noticed the signal immediately before the platform; he made an emergency brake application and reversed the engine, but was unable to prevent the collision. Five passengers on the local train were killed. The official enquiry ruled that a primary cause of the accident was the poor physical condition of the driver, due to his age (60 years) and fatigue; he had started duty at 05:00 that morning. The guard and fireman of the express were also criticised for failing to notice that their train had passed the danger signals. This accident was instrumental in the introduction of Automatic Train Control on the Great Western Railway.

The station today
In the Office of Rail Regulation's statistics, the railway station has 4.3 million users every year making it the 53rd busiest railway station in Great Britain. However, this does not take into account the 1.3 million additional users from Windsor & Eton Central changing platforms. A station upgrade is planned at this major commuter station, with the addition of a baby changing facility, parcels office and 1st class lounge. It is well placed in the town, being only a short walk from the bus station and with a taxi rank directly outside. It has a CCTV security monitoring network that runs all night. There are ticket barriers to both entrances.

The original Brunel-era station buildings at Slough were of timber construction and were on the south (i.e. town) side of the railway. Two platforms were provided, with matching buildings, each having an overall roof that covered both platform and track. These platforms served 'up' (London-bound) and 'down' (Bristol-bound) trains separately; a complicated arrangement of crossings between the platforms allowed the necessary train movements.

The present station
The station was rebuilt in its present form in the late 19th century, the fifth station to be built on the site. The buildings have survived largely intact, although some of the waiting room buildings on the island platform were demolished in the 1970s before the station was Grade II listed. It is an almost-unique design on the Great Western Railway, only one other, much smaller, station was built with the same features. The most notable architectural details are the unusual scalloped roof tiles and the decorative ironwork around the top of the buildings.

Evolution of station layout
Since the end of steam traction, the layout at Slough has been somewhat simplified. In its heyday, every corner of the station featured a siding or bay platform of some kind. Apparently inexplicable architectural clues remain around the station to show where these facilities were. Parallel to and south of the current Platform 1, the 'Windsor Bay', were two additional sidings and a platform-level loading bank. These were latterly used for loading tanks, from the Royal Alexandra Barracks in Windsor, onto flat trucks (e.g. 'Rectank' and 'Warwell' wagons) for onward transport by rail. The sidings were removed in the 1980s and replaced by an access road, at track level, under the Stoke Road Bridge to the West Car Park ”“ built on part of the engine shed site. One siding was the same length as the Windsor Bay line, and (as of 2009) its buffers are still in situ, even though the line itself has long since gone. At the London end of Platform 2 ('Down Fast' services) was a very short siding, at an odd angle to the track. This was probably used for loading carriages onto flat wagons. It was removed a long time ago. Platform 6, for stopping services to London, was provided with a siding between the fast and slow tracks at the east end of the station. This was used for storing the local train between services. The siding was removed in the 1980s. At the west end of Platform 5, which is on the north side of the station, were two long sidings alongside a loading bank. These were used to load vans and trucks manufactured at Ford's Langley factory onto flat wagons. In the 1970s, one siding was lifted and the area turned into a parcels bay, complete with awning. It was not uncommon to see several parcels vans stabled there, and occasionally a Class 08 shunter from Slough Goods Yard. This remaining siding was truncated beyond the end of the platform during the 1990s and is now used as a stabling point for a tamper/liner or similar kind of track machine. There was another bay platform”“ at the west end of the station, between Platforms 3 and 4. Examination of the platform canopies at this point will reveal a gap where the canopies do not meet. This was where the bay platform track was, and the gap was to allow steam from the engines to escape. This bay platform was used for the shuttle service to the Slough Trading Estate Railway station on the Trading Estate. The bay was taken out of use when services to the Trading Estate finished in 1956.

"Station Jim"
"Station Jim" (or Dog Jim), based at Slough railway station, was a Canine Collector for the Great Western Railway Widows and Orphans Fund from 1894 until his death in 1896. After his death he was stuffed and placed on display in a glass cabinet with a collection slot. Station Jim's display cabinet, which can be found on Platform 5, includes a copy of the original inscription, written after he died, that describes his life story: The story of the Slough "Station Jim" is mentioned in the historical background feature accompanying the BBC movie Station Jim (2001). Although the movie involves an orphanage, the movie dog and storyline are not based on the true story, and the movie is not set in Slough.


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