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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 98 - October 2007

Reminiscences of a Rewley Road Booking Clerk

On Sunday 22nd April 07 a gentleman visitor, probably in his mid 70's, introduced himself to Andrew Bratton. He had been a booking clerk and porter at Rewley Road station for several years in the late 1940's. Andrew shares the ensuing discussion with us.

His office was in the oval building which stood in the concourse. (This was purported to have come from the Crystal Palace, but he says the one at Windsor also claimed this, perhaps there were two?). The Stationmaster was shared with the GWR station. His father worked in the ex LNWR goods shed. The ex LNWR loco shed was no longer being used. He did not note the locomotives operating out of there.

I quizzed him about who travelled to / from the station. There were some local passengers, mainly from Bicester. Also, there were some university staff and students to / from Cambridge.

The bulk of the tickets sold at Oxford were for travellers going north, changing trains at Bletchley onto expresses. Scotland and Holy head were common destinations and there were a fair number of Irish personnel passing through. (I remember the Lakes Express always stopped at Bletchley in BR days). All the tickets were Edmondson type and he developed a callous on his finger from the date stamping machine. If there was a choice of routes to the destination, the selected one had to be detailed. This was often difficult to do for long distance journeys; he had to write extremely small on the tickets to get everything on them. (BR later introduced larger paper tickets).

Early morning was the hardest part of the day as wooden boxes full of fish packed in ice would arrive from Scotland and had to be offloaded from the train. The smell was strong and water leaked everywhere from the melting ice. (I guess this included fresh salmon for the Universities at certain times of the year).

Many tickets had to specify whether the traveller was handling his luggage himself, whether it was to be delivered by the railway to his destination, or travelling independently for collection. There were letters (I can't remember the acronyms) to specify the types. (Janice Uphill advises PLA was passenger's luggage in advance and PUL was passenger's unaccompanied luggage)

At the start of the academic year the station was in total chaos. Mountains of luggage would arrive by train and would be stacked high, taking up one side of the concourse. Students who had not paid for delivery by the railway would be delving through the piles looking for their baggage. Delivery was mainly by lorry, but there was still one horse drawn wagon operating.

He applied for the job when he was a youngster and he was given a ticket to go for an interview at Euston. Needless to say he had to go via Bletchley, rather than the fast on the GWR via Paddington. I asked him about newspapers. He said they all came into the GWR station from Paddington. They would be sorted on the train by the wholesalers and then offloaded onto tables set up along the platform at Oxford, where they were further sorted for delivery.

In BR days he was a relief clerk on the Western Region and had a l25cc Francis Barnet to get around on, as invariably the first train was too late to start. He travelled all over the area. He particularly remembers Littlemore on the Oxford - Princes Risborough line. He would catch the last train home, but had to turn the oil lights off before boarding it, which was tricky on dark nights.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 2007 and so does not reflect events in the 7+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Reminiscences of a Rewley Road Booking Clerk - Quainton News No. 98 - October 2007

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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