Stations no more

As a kid train spotter in the early 60s, I used to visit stations and beg old luggage labels. They were of no great value – and still aren’t. They were just little slips of paper glued on to parcels so that the destination station could easily be seen.

Back in the 1960s, some of them, recognisably, dated back to the nineteenth century but today’s little collection all date from between 1923 and 1948 and were for luggage heading for stations now long since closed.

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We start with Bude, a small seaside town in Cornwall. Bude was at the end of a long branch line which opened in 1898. It closed in 1966 and residents of Bude now find themselves all but 70 miles from a railway station.

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Ludgershall is in Wiltshire. It was on the old Midland and South Western line which linked Andover in Hampshire with the Cheltenham area. The line opened in stretches at various times up to 1898. It was closed in 1961 (before Beeching). But the bit from Andover to Ludgershall is still there and may still receive some military traffic.

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Semley is also in Wiltshire. It was on the main line, west from Salisbury and heading for Gillingham and Exeter (and just possible Bude). Semley opened in 1859 and closed in 1966 but trains still rush through the old station site as they travel between London and Exeter.

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Waldron was on a line in East Sussex which was known as The Cuckoo Line. This ran between Tunbridge Wells and Eastbourne. The line and station date from 1880. Passenger services were axed in 1965 but the line remained open for freight until 1968. The station had numerous changes of name. From 1953 until the end it was called Horam.

This one is of special interest to me for Waldron was a village where my forebears lived.

And finally…

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West Pennard – it was a station on the old Somerset and Dorset line’s Highbridge branch. It opened in 1862 and survived until total line closure in 1966.

Just thinking about some of these places can bring back the sights, sounds and smells of a steam railway and the tickets remind me of the joy and innocence of a youthful train spotter

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