Posts Tagged ‘excursion’

An excursion to Lavington

May 27, 2013

We might imagine that back in 1951 a lot of people made their way to London to enjoy the Festival of Britain. Over 60 years ago we lived in a different world – a world of real austerity. Most people didn’t have cars. Most people didn’t have a television. The festival had been created to give a boost to Britain which was still very war scarred and weary.

But Londoners needed to escape as well. London had suffered heavily from bombing and large areas of bomb damage remained boarded up six years after hostilities ended. So what better than an escape to the country – neat, tidy and comparatively unaffected by the war years?

But how do you get there? You had no car, of course, and it was a long way to cycle, if you had a bike. The train was the real option of the day.

But that was expensive so British Railways ran excursions that were well advertised and could use stock that would otherwise have been laid up in a siding for the day. Sunday was less busy so that was the day for excursions.

On Sunday 27th May 1951 an excursion was run from Paddington to Weymouth. The first stop was Lavington.

We have recently been given a flyer, informing the public of this train.

Handbill advertising an excursion to Lavington and beyond on May 27th 1951

Handbill advertising an excursion to Lavington and beyond on May 27th 1951

As we see, it wasn’t just an excursion; it was an ‘attractive excursion’. It left Paddington in London at 9.30 in the morning and stopped at Lavington at 11.15. We wonder how many passengers alighted at Lavington. In times past there might have been a fleet of coaches ready to take passengers on to Stonehenge. In the absence of that, presumably those who got off the train were hikers or folks who knew somebody in the area.

It would have been a quarter to nine at night before the train returned to collect the weary walkers. Maybe they were able to relax and the station hotel.

The day out cost 11/9 – about 58p in modern money. But that represented a lot of money when wages of under £5 a week were the norm. In 1950 the average income was just over £100 per year!

Of course, we’d love to know what the train was like. We wonder what motive power was used and whether the carriages were non-corridor suburban types – which surely would have been an ordeal for those spending 4 and a half hours on board to go all the way to Weymouth.

And who travelled? Presumably it was ordinary working Londoners. Let’s hope they had a merry time.


Lavington Station

March 6, 2010

Lavington railway station is not in Market Lavington but it served the local community from its opening in 1900 until closure in 1966. Trains still race through, travelling between London and the Southwest of England.

Back in the 1920s and 30s, the old Great Western Railway ran weekend excursion trains to Lavington. The trains were met by a fleet of coaches – charabanc style – which took the travellers on to Stonehenge.

The coaches were supplied by the Lavington and Devizes company which was owned and run by Mr Sayer from the depot in Market Lavington market place.

A photo given to the museum shows the scene at Lavington Station on April 12th 1930. The train has arrived and is standing at the platform. The road up to the station is filled with Mr Sayer’s coaches and the travelling public are transferring on to them.

Lavington Station 12th April 1930

What a wonderful image portraying good times some 80 years ago.

The museum has many images of the railway which was one of the last main lines to be built – well into the photo taking era. Do come and visit the museum from May to October on Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Bank Holiday afternoons – or contact the curator to visit by arrangement at other times.