Life and times of Melton Station

A 2011 sketch by keen trainspotter Nigel Webster, showing the signal box at Melton railway station EMN-150202-151340001
A 2011 sketch by keen trainspotter Nigel Webster, showing the signal box at Melton railway station EMN-150202-151340001
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My trainspotting days began at Melton station in the late 1960s when it was a hive of activity, both with people catching trains and also parcels, mail and other goods being transported by rail writes Melton man Nigel Webster.

Throughout the day there were Royal Mail vehicles bringing bags of letters and parcels to be taken by train to both Leicester and Peterborough.

On Platform One there was a parcels office where every package was listed and delivered in Melton and surrounding area - this building has now been converted into the station cafe.

There were four porters employed at that time, each working a shift system. They were Reg Street, Fred Curtis, Sam Lomas and Ted May, who drove an immaculate black Ford Popular, which always shone in the station forecourt.

His lunchbox was always the talking point of other staff as he grew the most tasty tomatoes, one of which he brought every day with his cheese sandwiches.

At the back of Platform Two there was the ‘wagon works’ where rolling stock was repaired, axles replaced and many other jobs carried out. The workshop still stands today but in a very derelict state.

There were five sidings which all led to the works, all of which were controlled by the adjacent signal box. All over the area there was an abundance of wildlife, grey squirrels darting under wagons and foxes with their cubs playing in the afternoon sun.

The signal box was the second such structure to be built at the station in 1949 - the first was very near the Burton Road bridge.

The box contains 45 levers and there was a fine array of block instruments because back then it controlled the section between Melton Junction and Brentingby.

The signalmen were Ted Blandford, George Tripp and Joe Mutch, who became a good friend, showing me how everything worked and letting me sketch the box interior.

The coke stove had a smell of its own, with the smoke draping over the tracks on wet days.

The goods yard was very active in the 1960s with shunting taking place on a daily basis. There were wagons dropped off for the then local coal merchant Fred Wright and grey-sheeted wagons full of timber from Lowestoft for the Midland Woodworking Company, which is now Jeld-Wen. These were unloaded by fork lift in the goods yard which was driven by a Mr Waldron.

Passenger trains were not as frequent as they are today. They went to Peterborough at 07.23, 10.42, 13.38, 17.36 and 20.46 and to Leicester at 07.37, 09.14, 11.07, 13.08, 15.08, 18.38 and 21.27.

On stopping, these trains carried the mail, parcels, local mushrooms from Wyfordby, as well as pigeons, which chuckled away in their large wooden crates.

There was quite a variety of locomotives that passed through daily, pulling fly ash, coal, iron ore, steel and stone. The classes of train were 20, 25, 31, 44, 45, 46 and 47 with names such as Di Scafel Pike, D4 Great Cable, D100 Sherwood Forrester and D163 The Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry.

Overall, Melton Station was a busy place, keeping me interested day after day, both with the trains and the characters I met.