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The Lambourn Valley Railway
Stations & Crossings
Great Shefford

A personal note from Ken Tarbox, originator of this site: 

Great Shefford is the one station on the old line that holds special memories for me personally. I grew up here and as a consequence used the rail facilities quite regularly, in fact, right up until the the blight of closure was inflicted on us by the short-sighted government of the day. The station itself was situated in the village just north of centre. Formally called 'West Shefford', it underwent a name change in November 1900.

A local man, Arthur Smith, was porter at Great Shefford for as long as I can remember. He was an extremely kind and patient man who always had time for people, regardless of their age or background. The trains were a draw to most of us village children, and Arthur would always allow us to watch the comings and goings from an area he defined as safe. Two other long serving members of staff here were Reg Hatter and Sid Alexander. Bert Nimms was also a well known, much respected member of the railway staff.

Photo : John Smith
m
Looking north in the direction of Lambourn, this early view of the refurbished GWR Station shows that the original wooden LVR office at the far end of the platform, had been extended to effectively twice its size. This new building was constructed by the GWR between 1908 and 1911. The post and wire platform fencing remained intact until closure in 1960. At rest in the loading dock is a privately owned horse-box, most likely one of three belonging to R.C. Dawson of Whatcombe Stables.
 
Viewed from the Lambourn end, the station looks resplendent with its new coat of paint. In this picture, the variation to the extended wooden office is clear: no windows and only plain, non-patterned barge boards. Built on marshy ground, the station handled a considerable volume of traffic, far more than the other intermediate stations.
m Photo : John Smith

Photo : J.H Moss

In view of this, the original configuration of a single loop siding was enhanced by the GWR in 1910 as part of the line's general upgrading process. An 80-foot horse loading dock was constructed with rail access from the Lambourn end by means of a scissors crossover. An additional dead-end siding was installed to serve this newly built loading dock.

The scissors crossover was controlled from a ground frame (south) with three levers incorporating point discs. Access to the opposite end of the yard was gained via a two-lever frame (north).
 
 

The total cost of this upgrade to the line was listed as being £1,284. It included raising the platform and the erection of the now-mandatory GWR pagoda waiting shelter.

Traffic at Great Shefford gained rapid momentum from the early 1900s, its location being ideally suited to the many local farmers. The transport of milk from the surrounding area was a major factor, one farm alone being responsible for the daily despatch, in large churns, of more than 200 gallons of milk. Hay and corn were also dealt with in large quantities. Bales of straw would be dispatched to Swanwick during the strawberry season, Swanwick being the main strawberry growing area of Hampshire.
Tail traffic was well supported both in and out or the station. The transportation of cattle and sheep along with the occasional race meeting contender made up the bulk of the content for this form of traffic.

Photo : Unknown

Coal was stored in the yard under the business control of W. Sayers; Messrs. Gear also traded from here. Business was increasing to such an extent that as early as 1914, the GWR found it neccessary to employ an additional porter to augment the duties with the existing man.

The two porters operated shifts that had a considerable amount of overlap built into them. This arrangement lifted the need for the early shift porter to return to the station to deal with the early evening train to Lambourn.
m Photo : L&GRP
 
 
Looking south towards Newbury in 1919.

 

In 1923, to facilitate the handling of larger, heavier loads, a 64-ton capacity crane was installed in the station yard at a cost of £179. It was mainly used for dealing with timber. Travis & Arnold were handling supplies here arround that period. The lorry parked at the rear of the crane belonged to Mr. Bates' a local carrier.

Photo : C. Gordon Watford
Photo : Reg Hatter
Left: The station furniture is superbly depicted in this photo from the 1930s. Two platform hand trucks were provided both clearly marked 'G.W.R. Lambourn'.

The office accommodation, was in line with the other intermediate stations, and could, at best be described as adequate. A bench seat ran along the back wall of the building with a counter and fixed shelf at one end. A ticket rack was mounted on the wall over a second bench at the other end. A desk, a cupboard and A tortoise stove were provided along with a wall-mounted lamp.

Milk churns can be seen on the platform awaiting collection for onward transmission. From the late 1920s, some 20 of these churns were being loaded daily for the outward journey. Sundays were no exception with farmers stacking their own churns on the platform to await collection.
 

In the early 1940s, a passing engine set alight the thatched roof that is just visible to the rear the pagoda shelter, resulting in its complete replacement.

Photo : A. Attewell
 
Photo : E.T Gill
Above left: Approaching Great Shefford Station from the Newbury Direction. The crossing in the foreground doubled as a foot crossing and an access track for a local farm.
 
Above right: Engine 9791 photographed in April 1959 arriving from Newbury. I have it on good authority that the three children shown in the picture are Ian Wilson, by the fence, Anne Wilson in the doorway and Pauline Wilson in full flight.
photo : unknown
photo : R. Dennison
Photo : J.H Moss
 
Photo : J.H Moss
Above left: The GWR provided a 12 ton capacity weighbridge consisting of a 12' x 8' bridge table and a brick office which can he seen here at the rear of the horse loading dock.
 
Above right: A staff meeting alongside a Newbury-bound diesel railcar, photographed in 1951.
photo : M. Earley
photo : unknown

Above left: Seen here leaving Great Shefford, bound for Lambourn, the diesel railcar was a common sight on the branch from 1937. This one is of a later batch of cars built at Swindon from 1938 onwards, on a chassis assembled by AEC at Southall.

  Above right: A two-coach train awaits departure to East Garston. The rear-most coach is a former "Toplight" slip vehicle, now downgraded for branch line use.
Photo : M.W Earley
Circa 1952 and photographed from the northern end of the goods yard, this delightful study of a Dean Goods gaining speed as it heads for East Garston. Just to the right of the picture, the aforementioned crane and beyond the goods wagons, two height gauges.

On a personal note, the black Nissen type building behind the arched height gauge was rented from a local farmer by my Dad and used for the purpose of growing his own mushrooms. Yard maintenance was not at a premium in 1952, as can clearly be seen in the foreground.
Ken Tarbox
 

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