The Railway Goods Yard at Meldreth

Meldreth Goods Yard ~1930
Melbourn Station and Goods Yard ~1935. An unusually titled postcard but presumably aimed for sale in Melbourn
Meldreth Goods Yard ~1950
Mary Findlay
The Remains of the Goods Yard in 1971
Photograph of unknown origin
Meldreth Station Goods Yard in 1976. Although the lines have gone the yard is busy again as a Charringtons Coal Depot.
Ann Handscombe
Aerial Survey of Meldreth and Melbourn Station and Goods Yard in 1961 showing the layout of the sidings. Also notice the number of allotments around the area including beside the railway track. No space was wasted. (Click on the image to enlarge)
Chelmsford Record Office

Whilst passenger services from Meldreth to Cambridge and Kings Cross were somewhat infrequent until relatively recently, goods services were of a much greater importance.  Being in the centre of an extensive fruit growing area as well as an important coprolite mining area for much of the latter part of the C19th a goods yard soon became established on the ‘down’ side of the railway line.

Coprolites, mined primarily in Whaddon, were transported to Meldreth station where a coprolite mill ground the fossilised dung and phosphatic nodules into a fine powder for use in the fertiliser industry.  The ground powder was then shipped by rail to fertiliser factories in East Anglia.  Cement products from the Cam Cement works and later asbestos sheeting etc. from The Atlas Stone Company were also transhipped by rail.  A standard gauge, light railway line was built between The Atlas Stone Company near Whaddon and Meldreth Station to aid the transport of finished asbestos products to the Meldreth Goods Yard.  The small petrol driven shunter known as Puffing Billy was a familiar sight moving finished goods to the station, waste to the dumps at the top of Chiswick End and raw materials from the Goods Yard to the factory.

Coal was an important commodity delivered by rail to Meldreth for onward distribution by companies such as Charringtons which were based in the Meldreth Goods Yard.  The transportation of fruit was very important as was farm produce such as beet and corn.  Livestock such as cattle were moved in and out by rail as evidenced by a number of cattle pens situated alongside the railway in the mid C20th.

With the decline of the railways in the 1950s and the increase in road transport the Goods Yard became redundant and finally closed to rail traffic on April 19th 1964.  The sidings were removed soon after although the larger buildings are still standing.




Comments about this page

  • In reply to the comments by Frank Thorp, I can only think that he may be referring to the incident at about this time, when a goods engine, after collecting some trucks from the yard, was parked on the main line south of the road bridge. The driver reversed, as he thought, back onto his wagons parked on the main line in the station. Unfortunately the points under the bridge had not been changed and he reversed back into the yard crashing the trucks into the sleeper buffers in front of Lou Harrup’s coal office. This brick built office/hut was demolished. I did not witness this event, but was told about it by my parents.   

    By Brian Pepper (22/04/2015)
  • Last month I attended your very interesting talk on the history of Meldreth Station. 

    I lived in Meldreth from 1956 until 1959. At this time I was a railway fireman working at Cambridge. I do not know if this is of any interest, but a few days ago I was looking through an old notebook I kept at the time and found a reference to a day’s work that brought me to Meldreth with the “accident vans” which would have meant the heavy lift crane, etc.

    I cannot recall why we were there and wondered if there is any record of an incident at the station or goods yard. The date was 16 February 1959. The driver was B Witt (possibly Bill). The Engine was 61623. Lambton Castle. 

    I have added a photograph of my notebook and would be interested to know if anyone can shed any light on this.

    By Frank Thorp (13/04/2015)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *