A lad porter at Lavington Station

Our recent blogs have featured information given by John Sainsbury on his oral history recording for Market Lavington Museum. After leaving Devizes Grammar School, aged fourteen, his first job was market gardening at Eastcott Manor. He was there for a couple of years, but then heard of a vacancy for a lad porter at Lavington Station and started that working there in 1946.

Lavington Station, which was only in operation from 1900 to 1966, is in West Lavington parish but, as it also served Market Lavington and Easterton folk, we include photographs and other connected artefacts in our museum collection. (Type Lavington Station into the search box on the blog for many entries and pictures.)

John was there until 1949, when he had to take a break to do eighteen months national service. He was involved with catering at Aldershot, Shaftesbury, Bovington, Bristol and Gloucester, before he returned to Lavington Station. A senior porter left, so John was able to become a porter.

In this 1954 photograph, John is on the left of the pair of staff on the platform.

Amongst his tasks, he lit fires in the station master’s office, the parcel office and the two waiting rooms. He also issued tickets for the first train of the day. It cost 18/3d (eighteen shillings and three old pennies) for a day return to London. He also worked down at the goods yard while the goods man had his lunch and he helped with unloading lorries.

The station was quite busy, with ten taxis waiting to take passengers to and from the station. The luggage for all the boarding pupils at Dauntsey’s School in West Lavington was sent by train.

John was at Lavington Station until 1962 and then moved on to permanent way work, working on the track at night and at weekends. His local memories include having the key for the signal box at Crookwood, which was only opened on summer Saturdays. He had to go in and sweep up the dead flies before the relief signalman came. He also remembered picking lineside primroses and giving them to the buffet man on the Paddington to Weymouth train, who would give the permanent way men ice cream tubs to scrape out.

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