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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bettisfield and the American connection

I apologise for another railway blog but I do like steam trains and all that is connected to them.

I came across the old Bettisfield Station while out walking from our mooring by bridge 47. It is on a branch line from Whitchurch and it went to Oswestry and beyond. it opened in 1863 and the picture on the left shows the station in the early 1960`s just a few years before Mr. Beeching`s axe came down and closed the line.
  This station and track were just a small part of massacre of Britain's railways in the mid 1960`s when 2,000+ stations and 5000 miles of track were removed. Luckily a lot of the stations like here at Bettisfield survived and become homes.

You can see the main building is there with an added extension in place of the brick flat roofed building on the right.
 Also the platform not clear in the lower picture is still there. New windows in the main building and a conservatory make it a lovely place to live.
 What I found when googling the station made me decide from a list of possibles to blog Bettisfield station.

Bettisfield station sits just inside the Welsh border and back in WWII was a link to military depots in Ellesmere and Oswstry. Bettisfield Park close to the station was in fact one such depot occupied by American forces. Troops arrived here by train from sea ports and stayed long enough to be trained for the second front in Europe.In 1944 allied forces landed in Europe and within days badly wounded American troops arrived back at Bettisfield on ambulance trains.
I would imagine a lot of other lines now defunct could tell a similar story. Born in 1948 WWII was to much part of my life. Dad was in the Royal Navy but would never talk about the war to me and he lived to 1998. Mum said he fought the Japanese but said very little to her other than his belief that if the Yanks hadn`t joined us things might have been a lot different.  Well dad if you can read this blog from wherever you are, I am doing my bit to keep the U.S./UK  partnership in tact.
The 2 views on the right show the old goods shed to the left now converted to flats(apartments) and apart from the house in the distance pretty much as it was all those years ago. I took the present day picture and just leaned on the bridge wall looking down imagining the trains stopping and perhaps a wagon or two shunted into the goods shed before the train moved on.
A Scammell Scareb articulated(semi) in use by British Railways
during the 1950`s and into the 1960`s 
I have always said I would have liked to have been an adult around the late 1950`s and lived a slower pace of life. No Mobiles(cellphone), your parcel would arrive by train and be delivered by an old truck as and when the stationmaster organised it. No courier next day by 9am, noon etc. UPS/Fedex were not heard of in the UK the good old Royal Mail delivered everything. Now, and I can still feel the stress of it typing this, courier company's rush around as does the rest of humanity chasing it seems each other in never ending circles. Just look at that old picture and imagine a steam engine chugging into the station not a Eurostar or an Intercity 125mph train or the new crazy HS2 that will plough through our countryside demolishing homes to save a few minutes between London and the Midlands.
Anyway my feelings about the slow life in the 1950`s is probably why I love the canal life. We have been moored here for a few days and have no pressure to be anywhere at any time. Bliss.......


Anonymous said...

We used to go to Mallaig on the West Highland line in the 50s. I agree about the pace of life and the fun of rail travel and the stupidity of Dr Beeching but there are some things I don't miss from the 50s!


Anonymous said...

Hello my Lovely's!!!!
Missing you both loads.......
Can't wait to see you next month for a good old knees up eh!!
Life's never been so good.

Really must try that Chocolate Kahlua cake.....just haven't found the time to bake one yet! Busy Busy Busy.......
Anyway! speak soon, love you both loads. Bev Jordan & Jack xxx

Rube said...

Thanks so much for the railroad pictures and the history lesson, I love it. My oldest brother could have been one of those Yanks to go through Bettisfield on the way over, and he did make it home again. Thank you for your wonderful blog and to all the others that I read. Your life style is wonderful. If I weren't so damn old I might join you. LOL.

Best Wishes, Bob from South Carolina.

Anonymous said...

Having had my own problems over the last six years can well understand (finally) what the retirement life on a canal must be like.
You and Jaq don't "have" to do anything unless there is a requirement for same.
I trust my friends Mike and Phil shall do so likewise.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Sally
I think beeching went a bit OTT.
Sad that all the small villages ae now cut off or just have a very poor bus service. The car is the culprit.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Bev
Yep looking forward to seeing everyone. Hope the plans are going well.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Bob
It sure is a wonderful life.
South Carolina sure is a long way south from Washington state but then everything is a long way in the states. Certain things i miss from living with Jaq for 3 months but overall we both prefer the boat.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Bryce
Yes it is a slow go as/when you please life. I am sure Mike & Phil will soon get into the swing of it. Looking forward to seeing them both again although not sure when.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs