Thornbury Railway opens

Recently I was browsing at some older Railway Magazines I had and in the December 1957 edition I came across this item.

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First of all then, let me give credit to Colin H Maggs for the photo and for the extract about the opening of the line, below.

The railway, 7½ miles long, was opened on Monday, September 2, 1872, after the works had been at a standstill for twelve months, as the Midland Railway had the costly London extension under construction and its directors were undecided whether to proceed or not. On the opening day shops were closed in Thornbury, the town decorated and in the evening the inhabitants were entertained with fireworks and illuminations.

The Mayor of Thornbury left Bristol by the first train, and, with a hundred other guests or passengers, was welcomed to his town by a brass band. Fifty people booked from Thornbury on the first train to Bristol. In the afternoon 600 children and teachers travelled by a special train of 18 coaches to Yate and back for 4d. each, and also were entertained to tea.

Now I never knew the railway at Thornbury but I know the place for my wife’s great grandmother was born there in 1857. She died, aged just over 100 years later a couple of months before this article was published. My wife knew her great granny who had long since moved to Cornwall.

But would she, I wondered, have been at the opening of this railway line? I decided probably not for she was already 15 when the Thornbury branch opened and in service in Bristol.

But her younger sister, Edith, born 1864 may well have been one of those 600 children enjoying the trip to Yate.

We know a little of Edith who was living with her mother, recently re-married, in 1871 in Thornbury. By 1881 Edith was in service at Westbury on Trym in Gloucestershire and by 1891 she was in service in Bristol. In 1892 she married Maurice O’Brien who was a bookbinder originally from Yeovil in Somerset. They seem to have set up home in Edmonton in Middlesex. We know the names of 6 children born between 1894 and 1906.

Maurice died in 1929 in Edmonton. Edith died in 1947, still in Edmonton.

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