Sunday 12 May 2013

Tram's Short-Term Advantage at Wantage [2]

Today is the "Sheffield 100" display of working reserved buses at Olive Grove depot. Unable to attend due to pressures of "the move", fbb has dispatched a Sheffield correspondent to record the diverse delights of the day. A report is planned for later in the week.
Back to the Wantage Tramway : Any signs of past activity?
In Wantage the fomer head office frontage still stands with the company name proudly engraved in stone. Beyond this were the passenger and goods facilities. The station had a roof and even a platform ...
... but elsewhere on the line it was a simple climb up from the roadside.
What little was left standing after closure in 1945 was all swept away to make way for a new Sainsbury store plus other enjoyable examples of the modern retail experience.

Where the line crossed over from the east side of the main road and into the yard has also been obliterated to create access to the "greater" Sainsbury's site ...

... but the row of cottages on the right still remains.
Continuing northbound, several old photographs are taken at the "Grove Bridge" stop where the road crossed the long-closed canal. Here is one of the passenger coaches, complete with curtains but no heating, disgorging its crowds (!) and associated luggage.
The house in the background, with its distinctive tall chimney stack, still stands.

There is little further sign of the line, except perhaps a slightly wider verge in places. The avenue of trees as the line approaches the main line station site ...
... has grown substantially ...
... but the "bear right" past the Volunteer pub and into the station yard is largely unchanged.
Passenger trains would stand just beyond the white van but nothing tangible remaining of the yard and sidings.
Wantage Station building had an exit on to the road which is echoed  by an otherwise unexplained wiggle in the bridge parapet ...
... but mostly all that is left is memories.

Fortunately many of those memories are recorded photographically. A good start would be to purchase ...
... the Middleton Press book (website here). This is mainly photos of locomotives so for more historical detail the Oakwood press book is better; currently out of print but still available on-line.
Buy both and your interest will be well and truly aroused.

Of course the line was not renowned for high speeds and a postcard illustrates a possible apocryphal race between train and donkey cart in 1923.
The donkey won!

A curious race has come to pass
Between an engine and an ass.
The Wantage tram, all steam and smoke
Was beat by Arthur Hitchcock's moke!

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 13th May 

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