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The Warp

The Railway

Leominster still had a thriving railway station with trains going west to Hay and east to Bromyard as well as north and south. Possibly it is something to do with the dramatic nature of steam that more unexpected events happened then on the railways than appear to do now.

It was said, for example, that on many lines the driver and fireman had one shovel that was not used for shovelling coal at all but was kept polished and clean and used to fry eggs, bacon, fried bread and mushrooms over the engine’s furnace.

In the huge snowfall of 1947 one train became completely stuck in the snow on the old Leominster to Bromyard line near Fencote, close to where I now live.

Nearby was a farmhouse belonging to the Legge family. Some of the passengers who lived fairly close struggled their way back home through the snow drifts. The rest, on their way to more distant places, spent the next night and day in the farmhouse living room.

During this time they devoured a large salted ham that was hanging from one of the ceiling beams, extra loaves of bread were baked for them, and the driver and fireman stoked up the kitchen fire so that it blazed all that night and all next day to keep them warm. Finally a train fitted with a snow plough managed to get through the snow to them and they were rescued.

On another occasion on the Kington line, there was a football match in progress near to the track. The driver slowed the train down to a minimum speed so that he and the fireman could watch.

They were so intrigued by the game that it wasn’t till there came a resounding crash that they realised they’d gone through a level crossing gate, which now hung on their buffers.

They reversed the train and removed the gate and hung it once again on its posts before continuing their journey.


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