Tetbury Goods Shed to celebrate 130th anniversary of town’s first steam train

tetbury goods shed to celebrate 130th anniversary of towns first steam train - Tetbury Goods Shed to celebrate 130th anniversary of town's first steam train
tetbury goods shed to celebrate 130th anniversary of towns first steam train 2 - Tetbury Goods Shed to celebrate 130th anniversary of town's first steam train

On December 2, 1889, Tetbury town was en fete.

Most shops were closed for the day, there were flags, bunting, marching bands, processions and triumphal arches.

And why? Because after years of campaigning Tetbury had at last got a station and this was the day the first steam train would leave the station on the new branch line to Kemble.

Hundreds of people turned out to watch.

This December it will be 130 years since that first steam train left.

To celebrate that event, and the end of a Heritage Lottery project, Tetbury Goods Shed is holding a special evening event showcasing the history of the branch line.

The line was closed in April 1964 as a result of the Beeching cuts.

As part of the Heritage Lottery award a 15 minute film has been made with local people and their memories of using the line.

These memories range from stories of the Maharajah of Jaipur using the line to bring his polo ponies down to play at Cirencester to the men who worked on the train and the school children who used it.

Here are some of those memories:

Brian Blackah remembers a whole farm arriving from Scotland in 1946 and the children of Beverston helped move furniture into the castle.

He said: “It came down into Tetbury. 43 carriages they brought down. The cattle and horses were driven to the farm.

“And they unloaded the furniture and they took the furniture up to Beverston Castle in Scammells.

“But when they got up there, they found they couldn’t get in through the archway.

“So they unloaded all the furniture outside and all the boys and girls in the village and everybody helped them carry it into the castle itself.”

Syd Mosdell, now in his nineties, remember a trip with his father who worked for the air ministry in 1940.

“We’d been to Gloucester on the train, which meant going to Kemble and then to Gloucester and back again.

“We were sitting in the carriage at Kemble waiting to leave for Tetbury.

“This old carriage was gaslit: it wasn’t electric, it had a big gas lamp.

“Then the air raid siren went and they switched all the lights off.

“And we sat on the train in the dark for three hours. And when they put the light back on I had contracted German measles.

“Apparently I had a rash and was all hot and bothered, and the chap next to me moved away a bit.”

Stephen Randolph lived next door to the railway as a child and has written a wonderful book about the branch line.

“It was something very special to have trains running at the bottom of the garden quite literally. The train crews were very well-known to their passengers.

“We invited the driver and the guard to come over and have tea and cake with us and as a result of that we got invited on board to have a trip back up the line.

“During that time the driver said ‘would you like to have a go?’.

“Unofficially of course, and something you can’t imagine happening these days.”

As well as premiering the film there will be an exhibition by the History of Tetbury Society showing some of their archive material from across the years – including pictures of the first steam train and the festive arches put up in the town in 1889 to celebrate that first train.

It’s also hope to bring to life archive newspaper reports of that day in 1889 when the whole town turned out to see that first train leave.

Tetbury Model Railway Society hope they will be able to exhibit their finished model of the station yard.

The Heritage Lottery grant has also enabled signs to be put up around the site showing where the station, engine shed, loading bay and signal box were sited – and created a Train Talk Trail for children.

The event is free, with a pay bar, and the doors will open at 6pm.

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