Old maps reveal a lot about our town. The landscape of St James and Duston has changed unrecognisably in the last 100 years. Looking at an OS map surveyed in 1883 shows an extensive standard gauge railway over a larger part of this area linking various industrial facilities together. My journey started from Stenson Street, St James, around the corner from the grandparents’ home. I noted that Stenson Street was originally named Foundry Street. This referred to an ironworks on the site of the later Tram/Bus sheds. The ironworks in St James was opened in 1853 by Joseph Stenson.
Duston and St James tramways
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland maps.nls.uk
Notice the railway lines entering the site which can be traced back to a junction on the Northampton-Blisworth line adjacent to Hunsbury Hill Iron Works. These were not the only tracks: others extended to quarry workings south of Duston and almost into the heart of Duston village. There is evidence on the map of scarring due to quarrying around other areas on the south side of Duston.
The tramway was extended under the Weedon Road through a tunnel in 1859 and continued until 1908/9. The quarry at the furthest extent, north of Bants Lane was a limestone quarry.
This was very convenient as limestone is used in the processing of Iron ore. There were lime-kilns located near the junction between the Duston and St James branches, today the site of Ross Road estate (behind Wickes and Hobbycraft). To the east is shown the Duston Brick Works.
This map is assembled from four sheets surveyed in 1883/4. I have highlighted the main tramway routes.
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