Ruspidge Halt, Cinderford, Gloucestershire
Eric wrote: "... As I said in my telephone call to you today, I am attaching to this email a scan of a picture that appeared in the February 2013 edition of the Great Western Society’s magazine The Echo. The photo is in the society’s archive, and its location was unknown. Two other members identified it as being at Ruspidge Halt and, thanks to the photo of the car crash, this is further confirmed. By comparing the details of the crossing itself, the position of the gas lamp and the construction of the paling fence, the GWS photo was taken from the far side of St White’s Road from the halt’s platform. What is missing from both pictures is the signal box. Perhaps there was just a ground frame for the signals either side of the crossing, and the train crew opened and closed the gates and worked the signals. The house in the background on Valley Road has been altered but is still there, even though it is now obscured by what were small trees down by Cinderford Brook when the GWS photo was taken. The phone box has gone, but the bus shelter is still there. All this thanks to Google streetview!".
Mike Cooper added: "... I spent a lot of time around here as a child in the 1950s and early 60s. From memory this was always referred to as Cinderford Bridge Ruspidge Halt was further down line towards Soudley. It was accessed via a very narrow lane from Ruspidge Road about 100 yards south of the Rising Sun PH. I recall catching the train there with my parents for a day trip to Weston super Mare changing at Lydney.
The platform was located on the left as viewed from the photo just behind the gas lamp. The house on Valley Road was occupied by the Webb family. Mr Webb ran a door to door fresh fish round in his van he was referred to locally as Fishy Webb.
To the left of the old line at Cinderford Bridge is a large field Still visible on Google Maps. In the 1950s this was used as a rugby pitch by a team called the White Rose the team was made up mainly by colliers from the Eastern United Colliey at the bottom of Ruspidge Road. The headquarters and changing room was up the hill at the White Hart PH in St Whites Road. The teams would walk the half mile or so to the ground in their playing kit would have made the studs very friendly.
I recall that that around 1960 Ray Allen a teacher at Double View School attempted to raise a team of teenagers to be known as Cinderford Colts and played on that pitch. I believe the players were being drawn from Double View East Dean Grammar School and the Mining and Technical College. I dont know how successful the venture was as I moved away from the area shortly afterwards".
Peter Essex added: "...This is a new shot to me and I wonder if it is or can be dated. The car crash photo suggests that the palings and undamaged crossing gate were in better condition in 1959. Not many years before that I remember going over this crossing on a bus with my grandfather who was surprised that the halt had been repainted when it was already proposed to end passenger services which was in 1958. Id therefore guess that the present shot with no official notices but the gas lamp still present was taken in the 1960s but others may know better".
John Cooper would appreciate any info anyone has about 136 Valley Road (the house at the back of the picture).
Rod Wheatstone added (December 2013): "... This is a view of Ruspidge Halt at Cinderford Bridge that I've not seen before.I think it may have been taken in the early 1960,s due to the general condition of the gates and fencing.The other halt referred to above was Staple Edge Halt,originaly built for the colliers at Eastern United and with Eastern United signal box nearly always being switched out, all signals between Bullo and Bilson junction would have been "fixed", needing the train crew to open the gates. The large house in the background (Fishy Webb's) was originaly Cinderford Bridge Colliery, the siding to which crossed Valley Road via the double arched bridge seen crossing over the Cinderford brook. As kids we could hear the loaded coal trains stopping at the crossing for the wagon brakes to be pinned down for the descent to Bullo, giving us enough time to go down the Greenwell, Peacock Lane or Railway Road to cadge a ride on the brake van down to Eastern. Happy memories".
Mrs Jeanette Wylde added (December 2013): "... the halt below the Rising Sun P.H. was Staple Edge Halt. I used to catch the train there every day to Cinderford station and then walk up the hill to East Dean Grammar School".
Peter Robinson added (July 2017): "... Rather belatedly, this is in response to John Cooper's request for more information about the house in the picture. The house was originally built as part of the Cinderford Bridge Gale to which it was adjacent. The following, mostly, comes from the lightmoor.co.uk website and can be found at http://lightmoor.co.uk/forestcoal/CoalCindBridge.html The Cinderford Bridge gale was granted in 1833 to James Cowmeadow and others. James also, though maybe later, owned the Victoria Hotel at the bottom of Victoria Street. He died in 1844 and the gale was disposed of to a Mr. Wagstaff some time prior to May 1854. Wagstaff had no success with the gale and a sale was arranged for 30 August 1860. In August 1876 the gale was owned by a John Vincent who wished to dispose of it. A schedule mentioned "Buildings; Carpenters shop, blacksmiths shop, offices and engine house, all of which had a slated roof." These buildings, which were mostly under one roof were in a dilapidated condition. The office was being used by a person named Marfell as a dwelling house. The range of buildings eventually became known as Wagstaff House and were probably built under a Crown license dated 11 August 1854 when Wagstaff applied for an area of land to build a dwelling house with stables and offices. Further to the above, from research I have carried out in relation to the row of houses further along Valley Road, I know that in 1901, Wagstaff house was occupied by someone named Jones. In the 1909 land tax survey it is shown occupied by a William Roberts and in the 1911 census it is shown occupied by James Tyler who was James Cowmeadow's Grandson. In the 1939 register the occupier is Stanley Webbs".
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