Saturday, 22 October 2016

Demolition Trains

Among the excellent pictures donated to this project by Jim Clemens are some shots of the demolition trains that were sent to remove the line after its closure. Some might consider these a little bleak, but I think that they provide a really interesting bridge between the line as a working piece of industry and the beginning of its reversion to nature. The line itself was dug up by a crane mounted to the back of a van, which lifted the sleepers and rails into empty trucks parked adjacent. John Clements, the farmer at Pigeon House Farm near Upton, remembers:
'I think I was about 10 or 11 when the line was taken up and I have memories of a wonderful old steam crane lifting the tracks. The operator let me up on board to pull a few leavers, which I guess would never be allowed in this day and age of health and safety and risk assessment. It was a wonderful machine to a young lad with unguarded cogs and pulleys and steam issuing forth from every seal and joint. After the tracks were removed they lifted the sleepers and took them away, I assume to be reused.'
The pictures below are mainly untitled but seem to have been taken around the area between Clive's Fruit Farm on Upper Hook Road and what is now Upton Rugby ground. I hope you enjoy them!

The steam-powered crane loads an empty truck.
This is one of my favourite pictures from this entire project, albeit maybe for artistic rather than historical reasons! Upton station is visible in the distance.
Down the line to Upton.
'Demolition Train M.R. Malvern to Ashchurch'. Taken from Upper Hook Road bridge - the permanent way hut has since been removed.
Another shot near Upton, taken approximately where the public footpath runs above the rugby pitches now.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Some New Tickets

Some new tickets to show this week. These have been kindly donated by Glen Beadon who recently won them at auction:

#2589 Colwall to Malvern Wells GWR, 19 November 1904.
#2639 Ledbury to Malvern Wells GWR, 1 October ????
#5078 Ashchurch to Tewkesbury, 12 July 1961.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

New Research on Great Malvern Station

Previously on this blog it has been mentioned that Rowallan, the house on Avenue Road overlooking Great Malvern station, was the stationmaster's residence during the station's first century. In the last couple of weeks, however, I have been informed that this might not actually have been the case and that the stationmaster may never have lived there at all. The following text has been reproduced from an article that Cora Weaver wrote for the Malvern Museum newsletter in May 2011. I would like to thank both Cora for her permission to show her work here, and also Faith Renger at Malvern Museum for mentioning this research to me recently. If anyone has any further insights into the history of the house I'm sure we would all be interested to hear about it - many of the railway books I have read have taken it at face value that Rowallan was the stationmaster's residence, but perhaps this is the result of authors reading eachother's works and taking what they read as fact. In any case, here is Cora's research:
"For years people have said that Rowallan, an imposing, detached house in Avenue Road, next to the railway station, was built for the station master. So many people have said this that surely it must be true. But where was the evidence? Great Malvern was a small provincial station and the station master was an employee. Employees didn't live in grand houses like Rowallan!  So my quest was to discover who did live at Rowallan, and where the station master really lived.

Directories are a useful guide to sorting out the upper classes from the middling and lower classes. The upper class were listed in Directories under 'Private Residents', and only private residents lived at Rowallan. In 1867, shortly after the house was built, the occupant was Richard Reader Harris Esq. The 1871 census shows 50-year-old brewer William Colman, his family, and four servants there, and for many years after that, Mrs Georgina Colt, widow of barrister George Colt, lived there with her family and servants.

The earliest mention I could find of Great Malvern's station master was in an 1868 Directory. Theodore Allen Berrow Cliffe was not a Private Resident. His previous job had been as a railway guard. The 1871 census shows him as aged 41 and living at number 5, Imperial Terrace, Manby Road, with his 23 -year-old wife Rosina and their three children aged 3, 2 and 1. Sharing the house with them was a general servant and two lodgers, both barmaids. Their neighbours were lodging house keepers and cabmen, which suggests that Mrs Cliffe took in lodgers to supplement her husband's wages. The 1871 census also shows 22-year-old railway clerk Thomas Richard Franklin lodging with a straw bonnet maker in Stourport .

By 1879 T.A.B Cliffe had died and T.R Franklin had become Great Malvern's station master. He and his wife Patience, daughter of well-known local grocer James Nott, and their one-year-old daughter, were living at 37 Lansdowne Crescent with a servant and three respectable lodgers. The house has been demolished, but it was probably one in a short terrace of three or four. By 1901 Thomas and Patience, their two children, two servants and five respectable lodgers were at Hatfield, a semi-detached house in Priory Road. It was a modest house compared with the magnificent mansions that littered the rest of the road.

Generally in the past, one's status was determined by one's class, and one's class determined where one lived. This brief investigation confirms that Rowallan was not built for the station master, and the station master never lived there. It also confirms that you should never believe everything people tell you....."

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Colwall Tunnel

Colwall Tunnel actually refers to a pair of tunnels which run through the Malvern Hills. The first was constructed between 1856 and 1861, and remained open until 1926, when a more modern partner was built alongside it. The old tunnel was later repurposed during the Second World War to act as a storage depot for Admiralty munitions. The second tunnel was built between 1924 and 1926 and remains in use to this day. Spanning 1,567 yards, the Colwall tunnels remain some of the longest tunnels on the British railway network.

The eastern portal of the two tunnels lies around a short bend south of the old Malvern Wells (GWR) station, while the western mouth of the tunnels emerges shortly before the present-day Colwall station. This bend makes the eastern tunnel entrance difficult to see from anywhere except the hills directly above it, or a public footpath which cuts under the line just before the tunnel entrance.

This selection of pictures shows what the site looked like during the heyday of GWR steam.

Colwall Tunnel

This lovely shot of the Colwall Tunnel shows a GWR 'Cathedrals Express'  train from Hereford entering Malvern Wells on its way to Great Malvern, Worcester, Gloucester and London.
'Down Goods near Malvern Wells (GW)'. Used courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Creative Commons.
'Approaching the Malvern end of Colwall tunnel, viewed from a train', 24/10/1964.
'Malvern Wells with 15.15 Paddington - Hereford, 30.6.1965'
'4161 Malvern Wells with (18.24 or 18.45) Ledbury - Worcester, 28.6.1965'
'D7050 Malvern Wells with Hereford - London train, 15.6.1966'
'34046 Malvern Wells 1Z38 ret. RTC charter 17.49 Worcester Shrub Hill - Bristol, 17.5.14'

Saturday, 24 September 2016

More Pictures of Malvern Hanley Road

Time has caught me out again this week, so I've put together another quick set of pictures of Malvern Hanley Road from Michael Clemens' collection. The good news is I finally have the internet connection restored in my flat, so hopefully next week will give me an opportunity to write a more substantial update and to do some housekeeping on the blog. The pictures below show Hanley Road during its very last days, with the weeds well established and the site in general falling into disrepair. Perhaps ironically, many of the original photographs I have been donated show the line in a derelict state, as photographers often rushed out to snap the stations knowing they were about to be demolished. Indeed, I probably have more shots of ruined sites in my archives than I do of working railways! In any case, I hope you enjoy this next installment of Malvern's railway history:

Saturday, 17 September 2016

More Pictures of Malvern Hanley Road

A few more pictures from Malvern Hanley Road Station this week, this time showing the station at the very end of its demolition. As these pictures show, Hanley Road had already been lowered by this stage and the original railway bridge removed, leaving the site fairly similar to how it looks today.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Hill Court Farm

Once across the bridge at Gilver's Lane, the Malvern-Ashchurch branch ran along a gentle embankment to the north of Hill Court Farm. The section discussed here is the part of the route which today runs from Bridgecote to Brotheridge Green Nature Reserve, and thanks are due to Rob Pierce for letting me onto his land to take these photographs.

Today, this section is a gentle 500m walk in an almost ruler-straight line. The site is little altered and the field is now used for grazing cattle; the only alteration of any note is an improvised ramp that has been carved into the raised ground to allow cows and vehicles access to the top of the embankment.

We start this section of the walk at the fence behind Bridgecote House on Gilver's Lane. From here, we proceed east towards Upton, finishing at the western end of Brotheridge Green Nature Reserve. In truth, there is not much to report here, but this part of the old line is a very pleasant short walk in any case.

The view east along the length of this section - the cattle ramp is just visible on the right.
Moving through a patch of old sileage...
These pictures were taken in mid-May, producing a blossom-lined avenue.
Looking through the trees here, you can see the gentle elevation of the old railway embankment.
A quick look back westwards.
Continuing east, the ground becomes a little more rutted, as you would expect from a working farm.
The line continues towards Upton...
A modern telegraph pole provides a distant visual marker for the end of the walk.
At this stage I found one remaining railway relic - the stump of an old telegraph pole buried in the southern tree line.
Here the tree line slowly begins to give way to a more managed-looking hedge.
Turning around finally to look along the line towards the Malverns.