Then and now at Toddington station
By: Tony Bowles, 2010
The next in our new 'then and now' series is by Tony Bowles, of the Toddington-based Restoration and Archiving Trust, and it features Toddington station
Toddington station has changed very little over the years and indeed, during April the scene has become uncannily similar to the view 80 years ago - so rather than a 'then and now' these pictures are perhaps more of a 'spot the difference'!
The black-and-white photograph was taken in about 1930 and a prominent feature is the water tank that stands imperiously above the down (Cheltenham-bound) platform. When the GWSR took over the station site at Toddington in 1981, there was no track and the platform edges had been demolished - but thankfully, the station buildings remained although in a very poor state. Restoration of the station and installation of a footbridge similar to the original followed but one feature was absent - the water tank, which was removed soon after the station closed in 1960.
Thankfully, a 12,000-gallon water tank almost identical to the one that once stood at Toddington, complete with supporting legs, was found at Wallingford. The Cholsey and Wallingford Railway in Oxfordshire sold it to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and following several months of repair and painting by volunteers from the railway's Locomotive Department, it has been lifted into place on the legs which were earlier installed on the original, but strengthened, foundations.
The tank now feeds genuine GWR water columns and uses the original cast iron pipework that is still in place under the platforms. At one time, the water tank was supplied from a reservoir in the hills above Toddington. Indeed, thanks to this initiative, the Great Western Railway was responsible for bringing running water to the village of Toddington for the first time, at the beginning of the 20th century. The reservoir still remains but is now used by Severn Trent Water who will supply the tower, via a reverse osmosis plant that will remove impurities (such as limescale) from the water and thus help to extend the life of steam locomotive boilers.
The pictures underline the impressive originality of Toddington station. Someone turning up at the station through some time-warp from the past would indeed find his or her surroundings to be very familiar. It is this originality which appealed to the BBC when they filmed sequences for their wartime drama, 'Land Girls' during 2009.