The Wolverton Refreshment Room

The World's First Grand Central Station

Listen to the Living Archive Band sing the Refreshment Room song
The Wolverton Refreshment Room
The Wolverton Refreshment Room
The Wolverton Refreshment Room

When the London to Birmingham Railway opened in 1838 the journey between the two cities took four hours. The Railway Company established a Grand Central Station (the first in the world) at Wolverton. Here was a place where the engines could be changed and, in the days of corridor-less trains, the passengers could descend to ‘refresh and relieve’ themselves at the famous Wolverton Refreshment Room. Stokers and Pokers by Francis Bond Head, first published in 1849 gives details of the establishment.

The employees

The refreshment establishment at Wolverton is composed of1. A matron or generallissima.2. Seven very young ladies to wait upon the passengers.3. Four men and three boys to do.4. One man-cook, his kitchen-maid, and his two scullery-maids.5. Two housemaids.6. One still-room-maid, employed solely in the liquid duty of making tea and coffee.7. Two laundry-maids8. One baker and one baker’s-boy.9. One garden-boy.10. An odd-man….There are also eighty-five pigs and piglings.

The consumption

It appears from the books that the annual consumption at the refreshment-rooms average -182,500 Banbury Cakes 5,110 lbs. of moist sugar56,940 Queens cakes 16,425 quarts of milk29,200 pates 1,095 quarts of cream36,500 lbs. of flour 8,088 bottles of lemonade13,140 lbs. of butter 10,416 bottles of soda-water2,920 lbs. of coffee 45,012 bottles of stout43,800 lbs. of meat 25,692 bottles of ale5,110 lbs. of currents 5,208 bottles of ginger-beer1,277 lbs. of tea 547 bottles of port5,840 lbs. of loaf-sugar 2,095 bottles of sherryAnd we regret to add,666 bottles of gin464 bottles of rum2,392 bottles of brandyThe very first local documentary produced in Milton Keynes in 1976, All Change, told the story of the early development of Wolverton and featured a song The Wolverton Refreshment Room, written by ‘J’ Cunningham, inspired by the words of Francis Bond Head.

Comments about this page

  • This was the second Wolverton station opened in 1840. The first station was built just to the north of the canal.

    By Steve Clarridge (15/02/2024)
  • There was I thinking England was always mainly a tea drinking nation.
    Sales of coffee was nearly double to tea back then, at least in Wolverton.

    By Mark Wtight (15/02/2024)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.