Then and now in Toddington car park
By: Ian Crowder, 2010
Although Toddington station itself may not have changed much over the years, there is a world of difference between these two images which are separated by 106 years.
Toddington boasted a large yard with a brick-built goods shed as well as a large fruit packing shed which served the extensive orchards in the area. Other goods handled included coal, timber, farm produce and livestock, building materials and milk; as well as vast quantities of imported fruit and coffee for the Toddington trading estate where there was a coffee and fruit processing, canning and jam making factory. This produce was also dispatched by rail. At one time, there were no fewer than seven freight trains scheduled to call at Toddington daily (some stopping as required). In addition, most through freight trains stopped here for the rolling stock to be examined and axles to be greased/oiled as required; and for the locomotives to take water. This was because Toddington lies just about half way between the Midlands and Bristol/South Wales.
Toddington station closed to passengers on 7th March 1960 and to freight on 2 January 1967. One siding was retained alongside the good shed for the use of engineers' trains. The line closed officially in 1976 and all track lifted in 1979/80.
This view was taken in 1904 - the year that the station opened for passenger traffic, the first train from Honeybourne arriving at 07.10 on 1st December, the train having crossed Stanway Viaduct which had collapsed just over a year earlier while under construction. At that time, trains terminated here becasue the line had yet to be completed through Winchcombe to Cheltenham. The picture was probably taken a few months earlier than that. An extensive and somewhat shambolic 'shanty town' has grown up in the yard and in this view, long rows of timber cottages as well as stables and workshops are in evidence - there is even some washing on a line beyond the assortment of horse-drawn carts. In the distance, near the new goods shed, can be seen a crane jib and it's also possible to pick out neat piles of timber sleepers. The first passengers to use Toddington station would have been well aware of the presence of the contractors (navvies) because the the assortment of huts remained for some time as the line's construction continued southwards. The shanty town gave way to an extensive goods yard, described above.
Visitors often compliment the railway on its neatly laid out car park, where the sidings and goods facilities, including a fruit packing shed, once stood. But the former 60ft-long goods shed, over 106 years old at the time the picture was taken, still stands solidly. Then it housed a 30cwt-capacity crane but today, it houses an extensive machine shop. The former goods office, in which staff dealt with despatch notes and other paperwork relating to the thousands of tons of goods handled each year, now houses the railway's operations office and operational staff booking on room. The other cream-coloured building is the large David Page locomotive shed which now houses many of the line's steam and diesel locomotives. This picture was taken in May 2010 a couple of weeks before the GWR175 event opened on the 29th of that month. Already a marquee has been erected to house the full-size replica of the broad-gauge locomotive 'Iron Duke'. The backdrop of the Cotswold hills have barely changed - although in the 1904 picture they can only barely be discerned.
Then and now at Toddington station yard
The one recognisable building in this picture is the only permanent structure visible: the brand-new goods shed at Toddington, taken in 1904 while the Honeybourne to Cheltenham line was being built (Photograph courtesy STEAM, Museum of the Great Western Railway)
Long gone is the ‘shanty town’ and long gone is the network of sidings and fruit packing sheds that stood at Toddington yard until the late 1960s. Now the scene is dominated by a smart car park, while the former goods shed still stands proud but now dwarfed by the David Page locomotive shed. The picture was taken in May during preparations for GWR175. The view is from behind the Flag & Whistle tea rooms (Photograph: Ian Crowder)