Railway Housing

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by CarltonA, 17 Apr 2019.

  1. CarltonA

    CarltonA Member

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    On my travels I have noticed quite a few former railway houses now in private ownership near to stations and sometimes out in the sticks by the lineside. Last week I was in West Hampstead and noticed what looked like former Midland Railway houses lined up across the road from the Thameslink station.

    Didcot has quite a few similar houses which may have been sold to the local authority at some point. When were the last railway houses occupied by staff?
     
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  3. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    According to "The Oxford Companion to British Railways History" (Simmons and Biddle, OUP 1997) housing for staff was provided from the earliest days of the railways, particularly in remote locations for level crossing gate keepers and the like. At the peak of railway land-lordship, there were some 27,000 dwellings provided. Little was built after grouping, and it was BR's policy to sell off houses, except where they were essential, such as gate-keepers. But with automation of crossings those are needed less as well.

    No mention is made about disposal in bulk to local authorities.
     
  4. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Established Member

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    Moulinearn level crossing was the last residential crossing in Scotland with the keeper (Edith Herbertson) living in the railway provided bungalow next to the crossing. The crossing was upgraded in 1997 and Edith retired; I think the house has been sold now. You can see a photo here -
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/taysider64/16478074935
     
  5. 36270k

    36270k Member

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    There were houses owned by the Southern Region in Rotherhithe New Road Bermondsey, Bricklayers Arms yard was at the bottom of the garden. They were getting quite run down when I moved out in 1983.
    I think that they were demolished in the late 80's
    Google earth shows no trace of them.
     
  6. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    In the case above where a crossing keeper is no longer required and they retire rather than moving into another role, would they be allowed to continue to rent any tied property (obviously it won't be needed for anyone else), or would they perhaps be given the option to buy at a preferential rate?
     
  7. big all

    big all Member

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    as a driver at redhill in the early 80s i was on the last duty on its last week when it was parcel vans from earlswood yard
    up to willisden southwest or brent sidings then to b/arms via clapham and crystal palace to b/arms then back to redhill
    from then on the vans where via london bridge station
    railway housing tended to be tranferred to local housing trusts or assosiations as under thatcher right to buy in early 80s they where not allowed to reinvest the money from sales to buying or building new properties
     
    Last edited: 18 Apr 2019
  8. Eyersey468

    Eyersey468 Member

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    My Aunt and Uncle live in a former Somerset and Dorset railway house, the old railway embankment runs at the bottom of their garden
     
  9. John Griffiths

    John Griffiths Member

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    The area I live in, Garden Village in Gosforth, Newcastle was built in the 1920s by the LNER to house workers at the nearby electric train depot (now the Metro depot). The houses were built to be sold to their employees, not rented, so many might have passed out of railway 'occupation' fairly early on.
     
  10. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Significant number of railway houses outside Derby Station just over the road in the Midland Railway 'village' - display of pics etc tells history of this in the Brunswick pub which is part of the area. Not sure when they passed out of rail ownership tho. By late 1970s they were derelict and I think had been compulsorily purchased by council for complete demolition. Derby Civic Society successfully argued for repair and restoration, which was done. Not sure if some were then passed to a housing trust or sold on for owner occupation or a mix of both. The Conservation Area status is backed up by an 'Article 4' decleration ( I assume) so that doors, window frames etc are all painted in correct MR colour scheme. If changing trains or passing through Derby always worth the short walk to look at this successful housing restoration scheme.

    Good sense of it here in these pics:
    http://www.ilkcam.com/Specials/Towns/DerbyHW/DerbyHW27.html

    Just a shame that approach was not taken to the main station entrance building which was lost and demolished.
     
  11. John Griffiths

    John Griffiths Member

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    Interesting, thank you. In my house deeds it says I have to have the outdoor woodwork painted LNER green. Not sure if any of my neighbours still comply!
     
  12. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    When the Metropolitan Railway opened the Watford branch in 1925 , to a very attractive part of Metroland (Cassiobury Park area) , they were obliged to build about a dozen modest brick houses for the local staff as the housing market was rather above uniformed staff budgets. Probably very desirable today.

    The row of LNWR built houses on the left side going down line at Tring were always known colloquially as "Fog Cottages" - where no doubt the local PW gangs lived , handy for call outs in inclement working.

    Many , many examples from Sugar Loaf on the Central Wales - to of course ones such as Willesden and Neasden in that there London.
     
  13. John Griffiths

    John Griffiths Member

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    Can anyone recommend a book on railway housing? I've looked up on Google scholar, Google books, Amazon, Copac with no joy so far - plenty of books on 'railway towns' and individual companies, and theses on particular areas, but I would really like an overview history of housing built by railway companies in the UK, if such a thing exists.
     
  14. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    As someone who works in housing sector and also with a keen interest in railways, this would be a very interesting book, but I must say I've never seen such a thing, sadly.

    I suspect that as in early industrial era most railways would have needed to provide some sort of housing option, esp where they were essentially creating new towns (Crewe / Swindon etc), or in rural areas where they needed to bring in skilled people. Although I guess where jobs could be filled by local residents housing provision would not tend to be required.

    I grew up in LBSC area. They had a house style of 'railway accom' which can often be seen near LBSCR stations today - can't find a pic (which is unusual for a railway related topic) but a good example is '1-4 Railway Cottages. Sheffield Park' near the Bluebell railway on the A275 I think, as you go south from the Bluebell station approach - Google Streetview will give you a good view. Generally white painted render style, slate roofed, north side of the road by end of Bluebell railway car park. But these look quite spacious, quality homes so I suspect they were for higher paid grades amongst station staff. There are certainly some adjacent Berwick Station level crossing, and you see them at other LBSCR locations.

    A book giving an overview would be good - but I expect it's a big topic given my hunch that most pre grouping railway compnaies would have built at least some.
     
  15. Iskra

    Iskra Established Member

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    Does anyone know if the house near the signal box at Blea Moor is/was railway property? It has always intrigued me as otherwise it looks completely out of place, not being a traditional farmhouse type building.
     
  16. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Don't know but I agree, it's not really in the Midland S&C 'house style' and I recall last time I saw it it was run down too.

    But FoSCL has a project to record all the railway line side structures - so I think you could ask their project team via the Freinds?
    This is the project
    https://scrca.foscl.org.uk/

    It's not the station master's house at Dent is it? Which is featured here.
    https://scrca.foscl.org.uk/heritage-hotspot-dent
     
  17. Iskra

    Iskra Established Member

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    Thanks for the info. A bit more digging lead me to it:

    https://scrca.foscl.org.uk/location-summaries/structure-248550

    'Workers housing', constructed by the LMS Railway.
     
  18. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Thanks - well done, better digging than mine. V interesting to see the images and it looks like in the older pics it was part of a larger group which makes more sense 'visually'. I suspect that post 1923 railway built housing is much rarer than pre grouping era built housing, but in remote locations like this would still have been a necessity for obvious reasons.
     
  19. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    Plan and photos in "Stations and Structures of the Settle and Carlisle Railway" (Anderson and Fox, OPC 1986 and subsequent reprints) indicate that the older pair of semi-detached buildings were the original MR cottages. The link given by Iskra above says that the later house was built by the LMS "1923-1947"; I think it likely it was added in 1941 when considerable works to convert the 'lie by' sidings into loops was carried out - the works included a new signal box as well.
     
  20. Dr_Paul

    Dr_Paul Member

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    I remember at the level crossing on Manor Road in Richmond there used to be a couple of small cottages for railway staff. They outlasted the automation of the level crossing, but were demolished when railway land was sold off for redevelopment, and they have been replaced by some new houses, for some reason called Marylebone Gardens, and an extension to the garden centre.
     
  21. Dr_Paul

    Dr_Paul Member

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    There are several terraces of cottages near Willesden Junction on and parallel to Old Oak Lane, hemmed in by the WCML, a railway yard and the canal, which are not in the usual Victorian London style of building, and which I suspect were railway housing. That there was a railway hostel and institute amongst them is also a clue. See this map.
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2019
  22. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    The presence of a Stephenson Street (and a Midland Road actually) in the area are notable in suggesting railway involvement. An interesting old enamel sign 'Acton Council - Railway Terrace) on one elevation of the housing that you mention there.

    Would be interesting to know if the houses were the same architecturally to that which would, I assume, also have been erected by the same company (L&B / LNWR?) at Wolverton.
     
  23. AndrewP

    AndrewP Member

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    I know that Railtrack owned houses in the 90s which were considered unsellable as they were too close to the tracks to be safely maintained by anyone else
     
  24. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    To add to my post above, this book also gives considerable detail about the various houses built along the S&C by the Midland Railway for its staff. There is also a RCHM book on workers' housing in Yorkshire which includes a number of references to railway housing. Can't lay my hands on it at the moment to give more information.
     
  25. John Griffiths

    John Griffiths Member

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    Street names are certainly suggestive, even if not proof in themselves. For example South Western Road in St Margarets, Twickenham. A street of C19 terraced houses, near but not leading to the station.
     
  26. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    The GCR built houses in different parts of Nottingham, and I suspect Watkin Street that was close to the former Nottingham Victoria was built by them, given the name.
     
  27. Tio Terry

    Tio Terry Member

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    Houses were often built in strategic locations to ensure the operation of the railway.

    There were a number of cottages on the Lowestoft side of Reedham Swing Bridge on the Down side. This was because when the bridge was first built it had to be left open to river traffic when the line was closed at night. This prevented anyone crossing the bridge from the Norwich side to get to the signal box to close the bridge to allow trains to run and the nearest access on the Lowestoft side was at Haddiscoe, a considerable walk away!

    Problem was there was no mains water or electricity at that point when the bridge was built so the cottages very rapidly became uninhabitable by modern standards and soon fell in to disrepair. It also became possible to allow the bridge to be closed to river traffic as shipping rapidly reduced so the problem went away.

    There are still some remnants in the undergrowth and I can remember collecting apples, from a tree that must have been in someone's garden, back in the 1960's when I first worked in the area.
     
  28. Hellzapoppin

    Hellzapoppin Member

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    Swindon still has it's own railway village and the first houses were built by the GWR in 1846. Interesting article about the village on the Swindonweb.com site.
     

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