The Way We Were: All Aboard

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Local historian John Taylor takes another nostalgic trip down memory lane....

Hauling 17 wagon loads of navvies, a steam locomotive made the inaugural passage on September 30th 1865, and with the line opened the next year for goods, parcel and cattle traffic, passengers would be carried after September 2nd 1867. The provision of a single platform was made at the intermediate stops of Bradwell and Great Linford, and at the latter a man was employed to deliver parcels in his spare time within a radius of one mile. Plans were even made to extend the railway to Olney, but shortly after the work began in 1874 the scheme was abandoned. As for the existing railway, often being a London and North Western side tank, the little steam engine, pulling the three or four coaches, would be affectionately known as ‘Newport Nobby’ (or more usually by the railwaymen as the ‘Wolverton Worker’). For many years Nobby safely travelled the line (albeit on one occasion running past the buffers at Newport Pagnell, which caused minor injuries to a young lady assistant of the local Co-op, who had been one of the passengers) until in 1964 railway economies forced a closure. However, at Great Linford the naming of Station Terrace still reminds of a steamy past, but there was hopefully nothing steamy in the past of Mrs. G. Tupper of 3 Station Terrace, for in a testament to the wonders of Doan’s backache kidney pills she, in the early years of the 20th century, would pen the glowing recommendation; “It was pleurisy that left my back weak. I used to get dull, aching pains there, which made it miserable moving about. I hardly knew at times how to raise myself after stooping, owing to the pains. But I found Doan’s backache kidney pills very helpful to me; they relieved my back splendidly, and I could move about in comfort afterwards. I always speak well of Doan’s pills now.”

Since the arrival of the new city, at New Bradwell the course of the old track has become Railway Walk, but possibly an additional remembrance remains in the shadowy form of a group of ghoulish Victorian passengers, who, on occasion, have supposedly been seen awaiting their phantom train at the site of the old station. However, with shades of the modern railways perhaps one of them got fed up with waiting, for a few years after World War Two a ghostly form was sighted by a couple outside their home at 21, High Street, New Bradwell. Waiting up for their daughter one Sunday just after midnight they were startled to see a figure in “a long white night gown” gliding towards them down Glyn Street. Then the apparition suddenly turned around and went back towards the junction of Glyn Street and Spencer Street, where – having been chased by the husband – it just disappeared on the spot. The man then confided to his wife that he had experienced a similar encounter some two weeks before, when the apparition had passed him along the back way of the High Street, to vanish in almost the same location. All very strange, and although it may be a load of old cobblers, I for one won’t be investigating, for there can be no more shocking an experience than to be suddenly grabbed by the ghoulies.....