Michael L. Roach
We travelled up the branch on the 10.15am from Newbury to Lambourn, the first train of the day in that direction, hauled by pannier tank 4670 hauling two ex-GWR coaches (numbered W2214W and W2734W for those who are interested) We watched the pannier tank run around and then walked to the centre of the village, viewed the High Street, and quickly returned to watch 4670 depart at 11.15am on the second train of the day in that direction. The third and last train of the day, and the last scheduled passenger train ever, was not due to depart until 6.05pm. The staff shut up shop, including the signalman, and the station fell into a slumber. What to do now ?
We decided that the best course of action was to walk back the 12½ miles to Newbury which would allow us to view all the stations and halts, buy some last day tickets and keep us warm on a cold miserable winter day. There were no trains for hours so we just walked off the end of the platform at Lambourn and down the track, alternating regularly between the sleepers and the cess, as neither made comfortable walking. We averaged about 2 miles per hour passing through Eastbury Halt (1½ miles), East Garston (2½), Great Shefford (4¼), Welford Park (6¼), Boxford (7¾) and Stockcross & Bagnor Halt (9¾) before arriving at Speen (10¾ miles) as it was getting dark. Welford Park had 2 platforms and a crossing loop but all the others had only a single platform. The stations mostly had a pagoda hut as a waiting room and a wooden hut as a booking office. Most were manned as we passed but we were not challenged as we walked up along the platform and out the other end, after purchasing some Great Western tickets if possible.
Speen was perhaps the most interesting station for us and the one that has stuck in the mind ever since. We entered the booking office and shut the door because of the cold. The Tilley lamp was lit and the vertical stove was being fed with redundant books and printed material as well as coal. We managed to save some of the paper for posterity. However it was the smell and ambience of burnt oil and heat from the stove in a confined space that I have not experienced before or since. The wooden hut was manned by a porter/crossing keeper and measured just 6 feet by 10 feet (1.8 metres by 3.1 metres).It was here at Speen that we left the railway and walked the last 2 miles down the road through the centre of Newbury. The train home was the 7.25pm from Newbury to Eastleigh, where we had a half hour wait for our connecting train to Southampton. We did not know it at the time but the last train from Lambourn (due Newbury at 6.50pm) ran very late and did not arrive at Newbury until 8.15pm, and therefore failed to connect with the 7.25pm train to Eastleigh. A lucky escape from an uncomfortable night if we had travelled on the last train. All in all a very memorable day. The railway press reported that 2 of the people on the last train had also travelled on the first day of passenger services on 4 April 1898, which was opening day for goods as well as passengers.
During our 5 minute jaunt to the High Street in Lambourn we encountered one of those things that stop you in your tracks. There on the wall was an enamel advertising sign for Millbay Laundry. Now Millbay was a Plymouth institution in the days before most people had a washing machine with its base not far from the Great Western's Millbay Station and close to Millbay Docks. At its peak the laundry had more than 250 shops, vans and agents covering the whole of the West Country. Presumably the firm had an agent in Lambourn with the laundry travelling down to Plymouth in wicker baskets by train judging by the proximity of the sign to the station. Can anyone confirm this please ?
A final thought on that day long ago. Roughly half way through our journey down the D.N.&S. to Eastleigh between Whitchurch Town and Sutton Scotney I walked through the train and there were just 7 passengers in the 3 coaches. The D.N.& S. closed to passengers two months later on 5 March 1960
A Happy New Year
David Tozer was photographed on the
Norton Fitzwarren Triangle
Penmere Platform & Penryn
Paul Barlow & Roger Winnen
A number of enthusiats were to be seen at the station and riding the train on its farewell journey. It was later photographed by Paul Barlow at Cowley Bridge Junction
'Slam door set'
All the best, Kind regards, Paul Barlow
Congratulations Paul, well done, we're envious, and of course thank you.