Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Loading horses

Writing about the 'old station' at 'Barney' here a couple of days ago reminded me of an interesting feature of the  goods branch extending southwards from the gates behind the East Box on Harmire Road. Almost immediately - before this track even crossed Montalbo Road - there was a small goods siding off to the right which ended in a secluded platform. Actually there were two sidings there, one of which was just a very short 'stub' which ran for a few yards and finished at an end bay loading dock. The other was a platform just long enough to take a single coach. For years a Gresley 61'6" corridor coach rusted away gently there, maybe a departmental coach or one which had been shunted after developing a hot box. Everyone seemed to have forgotten about it - hmm ... I don't suppose that it is STILL there is it? I guess not!

Anyway you could walk along a footpath that ran along the white diagonal fence at the north side of this idyllic little backwater from a small wicket gate near the main station entrance to another gate near the East Box. It was an 'official short cut' along the side of the East Bay which was just through the hedge ... G5's bound for Bishop Auckand simmered there behind the privet leaves! You can see this interesting area clearly on the 1:2500 map reproduced on page 86 in Peter Walton's book. Here I attach a copy of the rather poor aerial picture of the station area in 1945 available on 'Google Earth and I have marked the place with a red arrow.

I think that this platform must have been used for loading and unloading horses. Before and during the war I would guess that this was a busy spot, with 'hunters' and cavalry horses always needing horse boxes. Certainly by the late 1950's very little seemed to happen any more.

Does anyone have any memories of this facility in use? Or even better any photographs? They are more likely to have survived in local picture albums in 'Barney' rather than in the work of railway photographers who were probably more interested on what was happening on the opposite side of the fence in the main station.

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