‘There was only the train at one time, no buses, but by the 196os everyone had a car and there were plenty of buses. The train was losing money. Contributed by Phyllis Shepherd (née Washington, born 1907), December 1999
‘My father, Arthur Bunce, was a platelayer, a linesman on the length between Tiddington and Horspath Halt. Twenty one years he had with GWR before injury. Every year he filled his cap with the first spring violets from the railway embankments and brought them home for my mother. He also brought home the rabbits killed by the train. We ate a lot of rabbit. When a pheasant was killed the men drew straws for it. There were plenty of snakes on the railway banks—one day they were cutting the grass on the slope by the Tunnel and down rolled a ball of mating snakes—the men fled! One snake even fell out of Dad’s jacket when he put it on after a lunch break.
‘In winter he used to go out ‘fogging’ with detonators and ‘snowing’ with a shovel. He’d get up at night in bad weather to go out and check the line. After the bomb fell in 1940 they had to shore up the line because of the hole by the embankment. They thought it was an attempt to bomb the rail bridge over the A4o and bring it down on the road as well. The A4o was called the ‘gateway to the Midlands’.
‘On Jubilee Day, 1935, there were no trains and the line was clear. Dad told me to get on my overcoat and we two children, Tommy White and myself, went with our two dads on the linesman’s trolley. We went from Wheatley to Tiddington turntable, back through to Horspath Halt where there was a turntable between Horspath and the Works, and then back to Wheatley. Right through the Tunnel we went and we needed our coats! The trolleys were kept in a shed just beyond the Signal Box. There was a Buster Keaton-type trolley there, too, with an up-and-down handle.
Contributed by Olive Gee, née Bunce, December 1999.
‘Big engines were everyday occurrences during the 40S and early 5oS. Some trains worked through from Paddington to Oxford (and possibly beyond) in those days and everything except the very heaviest GWR engines (6ooos and 4700s) could be seen at Wheatley. At night there was a heavy traffic of freight, some of it hauled by 28XXs (heavy goods 2-8-0s) and I have seen ‘Castles’, ‘Stars’, ‘Saints’, ‘Halls’,
‘Granges’ all at Wheatley and travelled behind some of them. One magnificent day there was an accident on the Oxford-Didcot line and all through traffic to and from London and Oxford came up the line. There were three trains in Wheatley station at a time.
Contributed by Harry (D.H.) Cowan, December 1999.