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Readers’ memories of Horncastle and Woodhall Spa railway come flooding back

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Memories of Horncastle’s railway heritage have come flooding back after a recent feature in the Horncastle News.

The last passenger train left Horncastle Station on September 11 1954 and goods trains stopped in April 1971.

The rails were taken up 12 months later and little is left of the once-proud station, which is now the site of a tyre outlet.

Ted Oliver, who now lives in Nottingham, contacted the News to recall journeys he made on the former line.

He said: “I was born in Horncastle and brought up in the town in the 1950s.

“We didn’t have a car and when we visited relatives in Nottingham, we used to go by train. I can remember standing on the platform at Horncastle waiting for the train. If the wind was blowing, you got covered in smoke. You’d stink of the stuff for hours.

“It was sad when the trains stopped although, I don’t think they were that popular. One time, my mother and us three kids were the only people on it.”

Mark Jackson, of Boston Road, Horncastle, said his uncle was one of the people involved in the campaign to keep the passenger service going.

He explained: “My uncle used to work on the railway at Boston and travelled every day from Horncastle.

”If I remember correctly, the Railway Company decided to stop the trains but local people managed to keep them going for another couple of years. It’s a shame there isn’t still a service, although I suppose Beaching would have closed the line during all the cuts he made.”

Stephen Mortimer, from Spilsby, said he had fond memories of watching trains between Horncastle and Woodhall Spa.

He explained: “Me and my mates used to bike it to the old railway bridge at Kirkstead.

“I can remember taking the numbers of trains although some days, we sat there for hours without seeing one.

“There was a bit of competition at school to see who had the most numbers but I think a lot of us had made them up. It was called cabbaging.”

Colin Foster, who lives in Newark, was a regular visitor to Horncastle station. He explained: “It was the late 50s early 60s and my grandparents lived in Horncastle. I used to spend school holidays there. The station was looking run down. My grandad knew someone who worked in the old signal box and a couple of times, he sneaked me in to watch what was happening.

“The signals and level crossing were all worked by leavers and a bell used to ring when a train was approaching, so someone could open an old wooden gate that crossed the lines.”

Mick Toyne, from West Ashby, recalled the important role the railway played in the agricultural industry.

After leaving the town’s Grammar School in 1937, Mr Toyne worked for Church’s who were then based on a huge site, now occupied by a Co-op supermarket.

Mr Toyne said: “I saw the photo in the News that suggested there were cars on the back of trucks arriving at the station.

“I think they were binders that were used by farmers to cut and then tie up wheat - in the days before combine harvesters. I remember the binders were brought in by rail and then re-assembled at AChurch and Sons. I used to go down there as a lad and help put them together.”

Mr Toyne said he could also recall travelling from Horncastle to London by rail - a journey which involved changing trains just once.

Alice Simpson, from Woodhall Spa, said her grandfather used to work at the village station.

She explained: “He loved to talk about all the ‘big wigs’ from London who used to come to Woodhall Spa to take the waters, or tea at the Petwood. People say the Royal family were among them but he never mentioned that.”

“He did say that in bad weather, he had to stand on the station and hold an umbrella over people’s heads to stop them getting wet.

“He only did it for the first class carriages.”

 

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