Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Monday, 8 April 2013

More memories of Hyde by Roger Chadwick.(part 3)


Just before the railway bridge over Brookfield Lane, there was, at that time, a narrow cinder path running parallel with the embankment that led to Godley Station. In those early post war years, this was a busy junction with a complete set of “Midland Region” buildings.  The main line, formerly The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, provided passengers with a stopping suburban service from Manchester to Hadfield and Glossop and an express service form Manchester to Sheffield, Parkeston Quay and London Marylebone along the old Great Central line to the Capital. 

But to catch these express trains you had to go to Guide Bridge!   

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The other line was the old Cheshire Lines Committee and a purely goods line, mainly for coal trains from the Yorkshire coalfield to Fiddlers Ferry Power station.  Occasional excursion trains might stop at Godley for signal checks.  There was no passenger service.  Godley had marshalling yards, a turntable and two signal boxes.

Godley Junction was a good train spotting place.  Express passenger trains headed by Thompson B1 4-6-0 engines called “Springbok” or “Gazelle” or named after directors of the old pre nationalised LNER railway, would thunder through Godley, all the buildings shaking as they did so.  Once a day at about 8.55p.m. there would an express “fish” from Grimsby, leaving its powerful aroma as it sped through.  The twice hourly suburban trains to Glossop were hauled mainly by C14 Gorton Tank Engines and very sprightly they were too!  Many nights, coming home from school, I would wait for 5.18 “Godley Flyer” from Manchester London Road, an antiquated formation of two coaches, an engine and a lead coach from which the driver operated the train.  I would use this train  because it was  very fast  with its first stop at Godley some 20  minutes after leaving the city.  Many hours were spent taking engine numbers, especially the Robinson Gorton “O4” 2-8-0 goods engines that ferried coal and empties to and from Manchester and the Yorkshire coalfield.  The express trains were mainly composed of what are now known as “Gresley Teak” coaches and very fine they looked as we wistfully imagined travelling on them.  Some had restaurant cars, especially the London trains.

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When I was not playing at The Oaklands, I was on that station.  I came to know the stationmaster very well as he was a Lay Reader at Godley Church where I was a choirboy.  Reginald Walter Bellaers  was a tall man and looked very fine in his gold braided uniform which he wore from time to time.  He had come from a post at Northenden and was the last of the old railwaymen.  In his retirement he was ordained and became Perpetual Curate of St Mary Broadbottom.  I visited him until his death – a lovely man in every way.

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In the early ‘50’s, the rot set in.  All the station buildings were demolished and a hideous and uncomfortable bus shelter replaced the waiting rooms.  A temporary prefabricated office outside the curtilage of the station was all that was left.  We could see that the Cheshire Lines business was on the wane.   The main line was axed beyond Hadfield but there were to be some benefits.    A smart electric 30 minute train service replaced the old steamers and eventually a new station was built adjoining Godley Arches at the A57 trunk road.   The old Godley Junction station was never very busy as it was too far for people to walk up that long drag from the main road.   In the early 50’s we would be seen carrying heavy cases en route for Bournemouth every August because Gran had a privilege ticket and travelled free!!  Grandad was a railwayman and this perhaps explains a lot about me because from childhood, railways have fascinated me.

Going back to that  friendly engine crew of my second article -  the driver would prime his boiler when we were messing about and we were covered in soot and water: the smoke and steam and paraffin oil was  a pure delight – until we got home and mother had other ideas!!!

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Thanks to Joe for the photos and of course Roger for the great account !


Susan Jaleel said...

I've read this post twice, such was the delight it brought on a grey April morning. I remember the half-hourly service to Glossop pulled by the black electric Class 76s, some of which I think were built at Gorton. These trains could certainly move! I've never, to my knowledge, been on Godley Station but used to catch this train at Newton to visit a school friend who lived in Broadbottom. You mention Guide Bridge, Roger, and I remember that station as it used to be, in all its glory - an important junction. It saddens me to see it today, reduced to a remnant of what it was.

Thank you so much for these postings. I hope there will be more!

Denys said...

I spent many hours "train spotting" on Godley station, some of them in Roger's company. I don't know if he remembers me - I was in the same class as Roger at Leigh St School. I'm pretty sure we went to each other's birthday parties - I certainly remember going to his house on Mottram Rd.
Where are you now Roger?

Denys Meakin

Ed Toms said...

My grandad, Frank Toms worked at both Godley and Newton stations in the 50s. In fact there's a photo of a group of railway men taken at Godley station, hanging in the Godley hall pub and I can't be sure but one of them looks like my grandad.

Ed Toms said...

My grandad, Frank Toms worked at both Godley and Newton stations in the 50s. In fact there's a photo of a group of railway men taken at Godley station, hanging in the Godley hall pub and I can't be sure but one of them looks like my grandad.