Lavington Station in the 30s

It’s a regular question at the museum.

‘Where was Lavington Station?’ people ask.

Nothing of the actual station remains but there are tell-tale signs. One is that a building which looks like a former pub stands at the point where the main A360 road between Devizes and Salisbury passes under the railway just north of West Lavington. The other, for those who venture along the road that runs parallel to the railway next to that bridge is that there is a scrap yard right alongside the railway. The former pub was once the Station Hotel although for a while, after the end of the railway it was given the unlikely name of The Chocolate Poodle. A scrapyard seems to be quite a common use for former goods yards.

The station building was along the road that now leads to the scrapyard. The platforms, made long to cope with military traffic, reached across the road bridge.

All that has gone, but in today’s photo we see the station in the 1930s.

lavington Station in the 1930s

Lavington Station in the 1930s

As is usual in photos of the station, the expensive infrastructure is devoid of passengers. The track looks beautifully maintained with no sign of any weed growth but there is a complete absence of any activity.

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That’s blown up a bit large, but what a polite sign. ‘Passengers are requested to cross the line by the bridge’.

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Lavington Signal Box

Beyond the station we can see the West Signal Box which outlasted the station but has gone now.

Near the signal box there is a mass of points and crossovers.

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Heading off to the left, a track leads to the goods shed although it would appear that access was only from the up (London bound) track on the right.

This photo shows a siding on the right curving away behind the signal box. This line does not appear in other photos and we are not sure what its purpose was. But surely, somebody who reads this will be able to tell us.

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5 Responses to “Lavington Station in the 30s”

  1. Don Coleman Says:

    The line to the right, behind the signal box, was to enable a slow goods train to wait while an express was given priority on the up line. It started just after the Little Cheverell road bridge.

  2. James Perry Says:

    There were two signal boxes at Lavington at one time. The second, Lavington East closed around Nov 1914.This was on the South side of the line, London side of the station and I believe before the Devizes road underbridge. Lavington box was Lavington West then. The platforms were much shorter up to 1914 and the track layout was different but the goods yard sidings layout was the same. The up goods loop was not there, there was a trailing cross over to the East of the station and a facing cross over and trailing cross over with a connection to the goods yard in front of the West box. (Facing crossovers were frowned upon on the main line. Facing means that the crossover can be used by trains running in the normal direction of travel. Trailing means the crossover is used in the opposite direction to normal travel. If a facing crossover was not correctly adjusted a train could by accident take the crossover line instead of the straight on main line with fatal consequences at speed. Hence this was why trailing crossovers were preferred because even if it was not quite set correctly the train would just push through the moveable switch blades albeit damaging the point control rodding in the process. The GWR went to many lengths to avoid the use of facing points and crossovers on main lines where possible and this led to some interesting trackwork.

    When East box was closed the crossover by East box was removed as was the facing crossover by West box. The platforms were lengthened to handle longer trains of military traffice for Salisbury Plain. Note that the extensions were mainly made of wooden planks for the platform surface. Whether this was cost or an easier method to put a platform on a steep embankment I do not know.

    At the remodelling an up refuge siding was put in. Up trains would have to reverse into it. This avoided the use of a facing point if the siding was a loop. Also this was due to the distance of the loop entrance turnout from the signal box. It was not normally possible to operate a turnout manually over that distance and this may have been the reason here. Eventually the distance limitation was overcome by the use of electric points. In some areas where the box had no electricity or limited power the signalman had to wind a generator to create enough current to operate the points!

    Sometime later, probably before your photo was taken, the up goods refuge siding was made into a loop which avoided the need for goods trains to reverse into the refuge siding.

    Lavington must have been an awkward station to shunt in the goods yard. Normal practice would have been for goods yards like this to be visited by down goods trains as the trailing points would allow the train to reverse into the yard. However the yard (except the dock siding) must be shunted from the East end as this is the only way to access the sidings. Hence it would have been served mainly by the daily up direction pickup goods train (as those that visited all the local yards were known)

    The link below will take you to Lavington signal box diagram which was how it was when the station closed. From that page go to the hand drawn box diagram which will show the pre and post 1914 layouts

    http://www.s-r-s.org.uk/html/gwb/S381.htm
    http://www.s-r-s.org.uk/html/gwb/S381-2h.pdf

  3. James Perry Says:

    You may like to contact this person for their picture of box after closure.

    The derelict signal box at Lavington, 28/02/1979.  It seems remarkable that it should have just been left in this condition after having been made redundant: tiles and windows are missing, but the levers can still be seen in situ

  4. James Perry Says:

    There was road access of sorts to the north platform. There was a fairly steep and narrow road running from behind the north side waiting room parallel to the railway down to the main road just by the Devizes side of the road bridge.

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