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Regal history of an unmanned station
THE royal secrets of a railway station have been revealed in a new book.
The railway allowed Abingdon MG to export cars to America, brought students to Radley College and even hosted royal passengers.
Radley History Club chairman Christine Wootton compiled the book by interviewing people who have lived and worked at the now unmanned Radley railway station.
Mrs Wootton said: “The line to Abingdon was vitally important. For example when MG started exporting a lot of cars to America after the Second World War they converted old trucks and wagons to drive cars on to the trains and get them to Southampton.”
Mrs Wootton spoke to people like Denis Carter, who drove the train between Radley and Abingdon, and Beryl Buckle, who used to take the train into Abingdon from Radley to go shopping.
The book contains some surprises, like the fact that Queen Elizabeth II once spent the night in a railway siding between Radley and Abingdon aboard the Royal train.
Mrs Wootton, who lives in Abingdon, said: “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have used it. It was a very handy place for royals to go into the little siding between Radley and Abingdon and spend the night.
“Farmers would go out and be met by men in black suits who would ask, ‘what are you doing here?’”
When Isambard Kingdom Brunel first mooted the idea of his Great West Railway running through Abingdon in the 1840s it was thrown out of town.
Local landowners refused to have their land split in two by the railroad, so Brunel took his railway to Didcot instead.
They later changed their minds and a branch line to Abingdon was opened in 1856.
Radley station opened in 1973, a decision which was at least partly influenced by the presence there of Radley College, whose students travelling from across the country each term would provide a sure income for the station.
Mrs Wootton said: “Village boys used to like going to the station and earning a penny by carrying luggage for the college boys.”
Abingdon branch line finally closed in 1984, but Radley Station continues to be well-used, last year welcoming 10,000 visitors.
The book will be launched on Saturday at Radley Village Hall and will sell at £10.
The exhibition, which will feature a model railway as well as artefacts and photographs from the station’s history, will run from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and noon to 4pm on Sunday.
- Find out more at radley historyclub.org.uk
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