Mr Perkins, Station Master of Meldreth and Melbourn Station 1877 - 1888
We all have fond memories of our Station Master David Piggott who retired in 2015, but it would appear from the accompanying newspaper article from the Herts and Cambs Reporter on 28th September 1888, that the village was even fonder of one of his predecessors, William Frederick Perkins, who was the Station Master between 1877 and 1888. The transcript of the article (below) reveals a very glowing report of Mr Perkins by the Reverend E W Cory, who presented Mr Perkins with a cash gift at the annual Melbourn Flower Show and Rural Fete. The gift, raised by collection from the grateful villagers of Meldreth, Melbourn and Whaddon came to the very impressive sum of £11. That sum, in 2022, would amount to a staggering £1466.60! Mr Perkins must have been a very special Station Master indeed!!
It’s interesting that the said gentleman is only ever referred to as ‘Mr Perkins’ and never by his Christian name, showing the importance of his position in those days.
An Overview of the Life of William Frederick Perkins
William Frederick Perkins was born in 1850 in Eaton Ford, Huntingdon to parents Frederick W and Mary E Perkins. William’s father, Frederick was working as a railway clerk at the time of William’s birth. By 1871, William himself was working as a railway clerk and in 1874 he married Mary E Carter in Dover, Kent. In 1879, Kelly’s Directory shows him as the Station Master at Meldreth and Melbourn Station. A daughter, Lillian, was born in Huntingdon in 1877 and a son, Herbert, was born in Meldreth in 1881. A second daughter, Eleanor, was born in the Station House in Meldreth in 1885.
By 1891 the Perkins family were living on the London Road, St Albans where William, now aged 40, was working as a Station Master at St Albans. In 1901, we find William living in Earlwood Road, Wood Green, London where he was now employed as a Railway Clerk, a position he held until at least 1911. It is not known why William Perkins was demoted from Station Master. Sadly his son, Herbert, was admitted to a mental institution on 28th January 1910 where he died on 10th June. He had been ill since birth.
A Few Incidents that Occurred whilst Mr Perkins was Station Master
In 1880, Surgeon, Mr Thomas Henry Colman appeared before the Arrington Petty Sessions charged with being drunk and disorderly at Meldreth and Melbourn Railway Station. An account of the event can be found here.
In 1885, a goods wagon and guard’s van were derailed when the goods wagon axle broke. The Herts and Cambs Reporter article appeared on November 20th 1885 and is reproduced above.
Also in 1885, a young girl, Miss Fanny Jarman, was indecently assaulted by three youths on the Meads adjacent to the station. (An account of this assault will be the subject of a future page on this website).
In June 1886, a deaf girl by the name of Edith Mary Brushett was tragically killed whilst crossing the railway line. An account of this accident can be read here.
Transcript of the newspaper article of William Perkins’ retirement presentation
A presentation to Mr. Perkins, late stationmaster at the Meldreth and Melbourn Station, and now stationmaster at St Albans, was made from the bandstand at an interval in the sports. Mr. R. H. Flitton, who had taken an active interest in getting up the presentation, called upon the Rev. E. W. Cory, vicar of Meldreth, to make the presentation.
The Rev. E. W. Cory said he had been asked to undertake a very pleasant office – to present a purse of gold to Mr. Perkins, with the good wishes of the subscribers, and he might say of all present, as a slight appreciation of his kind and courteous discharge of duty during the eleven years Mr. Perkins had been Station Master at Meldreth. From an experience of nearly a quarter of a century of Great Northern Railway Officials in general, and of Station Masters in particular, he could speak in the highest praise of their courtesy and willingness to oblige all parties. But out of the great number of railway officials he had claimed as his parishioners, and with whom he had been on friendly terms, if asked to award the palm to anyone of them he should give the first place to his friend Mr. Perkins. He had been promoted to a higher and more lucrative office with right reverend and very reverend [sic] persons to deal with, but he was sure that the appreciation of Mr. Perkins’ services could not be greater by these great personages than had been their appreciation by the inhabitants of Meldreth and Melbourn, and he might say Whaddon. In the name of the subscribers and with their good wishes he had now much pleasure in presenting to Mr. Perkins this purse containing £11. (Loud cheers.)
Mr. Perkins, in responding to this token and expression of esteem, said he did not know how sufficiently to thank them, but he did thank them from the bottom of his heart. It gave to him and Mrs. Perkins the greatest pleasure to be there at their Flower Show, which he hoped might go on and prosper. He could not allow this opportunity to pass without thanking his two old friends, Mr. Flitton and Mr. Coningsby, for what they had done in getting up the testimonial. He should always look back upon his residence here at Meldreth as one of very happy memories. He again thanked them and wished them long life and prosperity. (Cheers.)