Radley History Club logo Celebrating 175 years of the Oxford to Didcot railway
   
Information board at Radley Station on its history

At Radley Station on Saturday 15th June, Christopher Parker of the Greening Lamborn Trust ceremonially unveiled Radley History Club’s latest achievement. It’s a board explaining the station’s history in 6 photographs and 12 anecdotes, and is based on the Club's book Radley People & the Railway. Among those at the unveiling were: the author of the book, Christine Wootton; the GWR Station Manager for the area, Claire King; chair of the Parish Council and treasurer of Radley Village Shop Association, Lynda Pasquire Crowley; Andrew Ashton, Radley College bursar; Tina McClean, Radley Primary School; and representatives of the Friends of Radley Station.

The Club commissioned the board, at a cost of £1080, as part of the celebrations marking the 175th anniversary of the Didcot to Oxford railway. The Greening Lamborn Trust was the major donor towards the cost of the board. Grants were also received from Radley Village Shop, Radley Parish Council, Radley History Club and GWR. Entikera Limited provided extensive and indispensable support in kind. Nicholas Lawrence managed the project on behalf of Radley History Club and dressed for the day in Victorian costume.

Christopher Parker and Nicholas Lawrence unveil the board
Christopher Parker (left) and Nicholas Lawrence (right) unveil the board describing the history of the railway line at Radley

After the unveiling, in a marquee in the garden of the Bowyer Arms, Isis class at Radley Primary School showed a wonderful display of models, pictures and writing on the theme of Victorian trains. Brian and Rita Ford lent many items of historic interest, notably their restored porter's barrow, believed to be over 100 years old, which Denis Standen once rescued from abandonment in a hedge. Denis himself showed his rich and beautifully organised collection of railway-related stamps. Christine Wootton, the Fords, and Harriet Moggridge had arranged displays of photographs and posters of Radley Station and the Abingdon branch in different eras featuring items from the Club’s archives and the extensive collection belonging to ex-railwayman and Radley resident, Vic Gackowski, and the reminiscences of Harold Gasson, a former GWR fireman. Copies of Radley History Club publications, including Radley People & the Railway, were on sale.

Part of the RHC duisplay of archive material School display
Part of the display of archive material about the railway at Radley Display by children from Isis class at Radley Primary School
In the pub garden, local actors Polly Mountain, splendidly dressed as a Victorian lady, and Ed Blagrove, as a railway worker, brought to life past dramas on the railway. On screen, the Bowyer Arms showed The End of the Line, a short documentary by Tristan Mann Powter of Abingdon School which distilled memories of the Abingdon branch line.
Christine Wootton, author of Radley People and the Railway Polly Mountain and Nicholas Lawrence
Christine Wootton with a copy of her book, ' Radley People & the Railway' Polly Mountain and Nicholas Lawrence in Victorian costume

As the rain came on, and the buzz at Radley began to die down, many enthusiasts continued to the events and displays at Grandpont in Oxford, near the site of the original Oxford station. Back at Radley huge crowds had gathered to see Clun Castle, built by the Western Region of British Railways in 1950 to a classic GWR design, and later Flying Scotsman, originally built by the LNER in 1923, and latterly much restored by four successive owners. Both were pulling vintage carriages full of people enjoying a steam train excursion

Steam engine Clun Castle entering Radley Station, 15 June 2019 Steam engine Flying Scotsman approaching Radley Station, 15 June 2019
Steam engine Clun Castle entering Radley Station Steam engine Flying Scotsman approaching Radley Station
 
The Club is very grateful to the house manager of the Bowyer Arms, Elaine Walton, for allowing us to use the pub garden for the event.
 
Event poster
 

There were also events at or near all four other stations along the line – Didcot, Appleford, Culham and Oxford. Details of the celebrations at all the stations on the route, the special record breaking train which celebrated the actual anniversary day (12 June 2019) and Clun Castle's visit to the Oxford area in 15 June are available on the 175th Anniversary website.

 

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