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Guest author essay: Credenhill Railway Station

Author: Trevor Watkins (2003)

The Hereford to Eardisley section of the Hereford, Hay & Brecon railway line was officially opened on 30th May 1863, and there is an interesting account of the opening ceremony in the Hereford Journal of 4th July 1863. A special train of nine carriages decorated with flowers and flags left the Moorfields Station, Hereford and made its first stop at Credenhill. The station had been decorated with flags, but to quote the Hereford Journal, "there were no demonstrations of any kind either at Credenhill or Moorhampton."

Photographs show that the general format of the station and yard remained basically unchanged over the years, although there were some alterations and enlargements carried out from time to time. This was especially so during World War I.

In 1917 an outpost of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Rotherwas was built on the Hereford side of the station and substantial sidings were opened to accommodate and serve it. These were removed in 1927.

The main station building was constructed of wood, probably supplied by the Gloucester Carriage and Wagon Works. Some time after the station was first built an additional section was added to the Hereford end of the building. The signal box was of typical Midland Railway design and probably constructed at the Midland Railway works at Derby. The wooden frame and panels or "flakes" were fabricated and then bolted together on site, the position of the doors and windows being varied to suit the location. The original box was upgraded from time to time during its operational life and removed between 1928 and 1929. A brick weighbridge was located on the left after entering the station yard through the main gate. The base of the building is still visible.

A few hundred yards up the line after passing under the railway bridge was a small siding which was built for the Pontithiel Chemical Company. The Midland Railway had planned and costed this in 1873 and it remained in use until the 1920s. The chemical works used timber to produce charcoal, wood naphtha, wood tar and other products derived from wood.

The outbreak of World War II and the opening of RAF Hereford at Credenhill in 1940 gave the station a new role dealing with the movement of RAF personnel and equipment. During the early war months the station became the headquarters of the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), better known by its later name of the Home Guard.

There are many anecdotes surrounding the station, the people who worked there, and those who used it. My father, who was a member of the LDV at the time, told of a surprise visit by the local commanding officer one evening when the squad were on duty at the station. It must be remembered that most of the men would have mustered after a full hard day's work, many would probably not have eaten and some would have come straight from shift work. Whatever the reason, one or two had grabbed the opportunity to get some much-needed sleep, others were playing darts and there was some horseplay. On seeing the chaotic scene that greeted his arrival, the visiting officer wanted to know who was the responsible NCO. Being informed that Sergeant Price was in charge, he enquired where Sgt. Price might be found. Quite unabashed one of the squad informed him that Sgt. Price had "popped off home to fetch a frying pan to cook the sausages".

The line and station were closed to all passenger traffic on 31st December 1962, but Credenhill, Eardisley and Moorhampton stations remained open for goods traffic until 28th September 1964.

A community centre and social club now occupy the original site.

© Trevor Watkins, 2003