A Few of the Trains that have Passed through Meldreth Station
Greg Dash is the son of Meldreth Local History Group stalwart Terry Dash. As a boy, Greg was fascinated with the railway running through Meldreth and spent many hours at the station in the 1980s watching the trains and getting to know the drivers and other railway men.
Now a Train Running Controller at Rugby, Greg has been in contact with some railway men from that era who have kindly shared their photographs of the railway in Meldreth with him. We are grateful to have been given permission to display these on our website.
Great Eastern Railway Director’s Saloon
East Anglian enthusiast and railway-man Peter Adds, made a trip to Meldreth on 26th April 1984 to photograph Sir William McAlpine’s Great Eastern Railway Director’s saloon passing through on a Kings Cross to Lowestoft special.
Peter’s family can be seen waving to the train in the first photo and in the second photograph Sir William McAlpine himself can be seen sitting on the veranda as the train passes through the station. The saloon later went to Sir William’s private Fawley Hill Railway, famous for its large collection of just about anything to do with railways.
DMU Rail Car
Whilst Peter was at Meldreth, he photographed a 1957 vintage DMU rail car, running a passenger service to Royston.
Peter Adds’ last photograph is of a Class 37 on “The Sand”, a daily, working from Fen Drayton to Kings Cross carrying sand for the construction industry.
Greg was also sent another photo of “The Sand” from his friend Gary Sell, a long serving Cambridge train driver. “The Sand” is waiting at a signal halfway between Meldreth and Royston in the summer of 1984. The driver, who can be seen leaning out of the window, was a lovely chap called John “Jock” Robinson, also of Cambridge. “The Sand” came through Meldreth on a daily basis carrying sand from Fen Drayton quarry to King’s Cross goods yard for use in construction. Greg remembers the train making a distinctive noise with the loaded wagons banging, squealing and rolling as they were hustled through Meldreth on the old jointed track around mid-morning. The empties used to return through Meldreth in the late afternoon.
The Mail Train at Meldreth
Another of Greg’s old train driver contacts, Nigel Mack, regularly drove the now defunct mail trains through Meldreth. One sunny afternoon on 25th March 1991, he stopped his train near the Fieldgate crossing for a photograph to be taken. The road bridge and station can be seen in the background. The locomotive is Crewe based 47491 ‘Horwich Enterprise’ at the head of the 16.36 Cambridge – Kings Cross.
The second of Nigel’s photos shows 47249, ‘Tinsley’, heading up 5E37, the 17.00 Cambridge to King’s Cross mail train which was running empty stock on May 27th 1992. When the Train Crew Supervisor at Cambridge told Nigel to take this loco, he had to ask again ….. “47249 ?” …. “that’s the one … !” he said rechecking his sheets. What a monster Nigel thought to myself. As a King’s Cross driver at the time he didn’t get on that many freight locos, especially “Tinsley” (Sheffield), a restricted use loco that were as rare as hen’s teeth in Meldreth. “Tinsley” survived on restricted duties until October 1994 before finally being cut at Booths of Rotherham in April 1998.
Nigel’s third photo is of 47703, looking very smart in the late afternoon sunshine at Meldreth whilst in charge of 3E37, the 16.37 Cambridge to Kings Cross mail train on 27th March 1991. With its days on services in Scotland now over, 47703 was named “The Queen Mother”, given a coat of Parcel’s red and was allocated to Crewe for parcels duties.
The Foundation Train
This next set of photographs was sent to Greg by Cambridge train driver, Ricky Knott, who worked on the electrification trains at Meldreth in 1987/88. The photographs show the “Foundation Train” which was used to erect the stanchions required to carry the overhead wires. Holes were dug and concrete was poured in from rail wagon mounted cement mixers to hold them in place.
The rail track underneath the Meldreth road bridge had to be lowered by 6ft (1.8 metres) to accommodate clearance for the overhead electrical wires.