Last Train in Wrington Station                   Filmed in Standard 8 cine film by Derek Davey in 1963
Website homepage Archive index page Wrington website Archive See also website report of the last days of the coalyard
The Wrington Vale Light Railway was built and operated by the Great Western Railway and opened in 1901. The Wrington Vale line was one of the first in southern England to run steam railmotor services. The Great Western made another ambitious attempt to improve economy when it built a pioneering oil-burning 0-4-0T for the line, but because of technical problems it never travelled further than the GWR's Swindon Works. The railway carried passengers for 30 years, and freight - on part of the line - for a further 30 years. For the comprehensive story of the railway, see WRINGTON VALE LIGHT RAILWAY [1st Edition - May 2004] by Colin G Maggs, pub. by Oakwood Press]                                           see <> Derek Davey fortunately had a spare reel of 8mm standard gauge film by him on the day in 1963 when what may well have been the last freight train stopped in Wrington. His footage, so valuable to the history of the village, and shown here with added sound effects track, suggests the crew spent most of that day shunting goods wagons. Their wave to the camera as they drew away is a poignant moment indeed for all railway buffs - and all victims of the Beeching line closures who now have to shunt their way into Bristol by road along with all the other commuters. Derek comments: We were living in 17, Station Road which was next to Kirks fish and chip shop - first of the little cottages and we were not there long as there was no bathroom and we had to go to Mum’s to bath. I [can’t really be sure it was the very last train], but when the film came back from processing it seemed a clever (romantic) thing to put on the package. I notice that there were many more trucks in the yard than were on the train pulling out of the station so they would have to have been collected later and also when the track was dismantled there would have been trains taking the rails away so ....? The train ]had] brought full trucks which had to be left and it had to sort out the empty ones from the ones already standing at the yard.  First it pulled up beyond the points and then sent the guards van back down the way they had come thus becoming the first in the train for the return journey.  Then, by shunting back and forth, hitching and unhitching trucks and throwing the points more empty ones were added to the returning train from those in the yard and the full ones left.  Finally the locomotive pushed the train of empty trucks back to Congresbury orYatton. They left trucks behind so someone would have to come back.  I can remember waving as I filmed so it was in response to that I expect, that they waved to me. Cine cameras were quite rare then (It was my Dad’s) so they were very conscious of me being there. The train arriving with (mainly) coal was not a daily occurrence [by then], probably more likely weekly.  There was no mechanical handling devices in the coalyard and everything was done by hand with shovels.  One man held the bag on scales while another filled it. From outside [our] house [the engine] could be heard but a small locomotive such as the one on the film made only a very gentle chuffing noise. I remember George Bond’s father used to work on the railway as an engine cleaner, I think, but not sure where.  There was a man called Dick Williams (Lawrence Road) who was a signalman working at Yatton. [The closure of the line] happened so gradually that I don’t think we took much notice, as lorries and busses were managing to fulfill all the needs [of the village]. In my memories (I was born in1939) the station building was always unused and became derelict in time. We often played in and around it.  We sat on the banks and watched the loco shunting - no elf and safety problems then!  On one occasion my friend (Paul Crook, I think) and I wandered into a derelict shed a little way up the line opposite Burnett’s sawmills, and found and took home some strange round things with lead straps on them - not unlike large wrist watches.  My dad, wondering what we were doing in our shed later, caught me trying to chisel open a detonator with a hammer and cold chisel.  Can you imagine that happening today ?                                                                                                 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ [see also Derek’s ‘conversation’ with Bill Crook in New Zealand via the 2014 Schmoose page - Ed]