Archiver > UK-BURBAGE > 2009-08 > 1251314564

From: "Alex McGahey" <>
Subject: Re: [UK-BURBAGE] BURBAGE WEB SITE UPDATE 21st August 2009
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 20:22:44 +0100
In-Reply-To: <>

Hello Colin,

Thank you for the update and I have had a nostalgic look at the old
Savernake High Level, although I have to admit that I never went towards
Grafton and on to Andover on the MSWJR line. Train spotting, (OK so I was
an anorak but at least there were real engines then), was a hobby with many
lads from Burbage and we were based mainly at the (low level) GWR station,
but we always had to be on the alert for traffic up on the high level. This
high level used to consist of Southern Region engines plus one or two Hall
Class GWR locos, but they were always the same ones although I cannot
remember their names now. Cycling up the hill to see locos on the high level
kept you fit, but the reverse journey downhill had to be done with care
unless you wanted to overshoot the platform and see the train from really
close up!

The high level also had the ‘school trains’ morning and afternoon bringing
the Marlborough Grammar School pupils from Andover and all points north, and
getting to school late; and in the afternoon taking them home, an as I
recall, leaving school early. When the trains ceased, Wilts and Dorset Bus
Co put on the number 19 bus service which came through Burbage around 8.30
am and went to Marlborough and on to Swindon, but via Savernake and Durley.

There was also the ‘Donk’ which went from the low level to Marlborough and
Swindon several times a day and the signalman at low level had to give and
collect the token to/from the driver to allow safe passage on what was for
part, a single line. The Marlborough Donkey was a generally a GWR pannier
tank engine.

In the evenings, around 6 pm, there was a shunting exercise carried out by a
prairie tank engine and wagons from, I think, Newbury and often we trains
potters, no elf and safety then, would be up on the footplate driving the
engine, and getting mucky when we should have been home for tea!

Looking at the MSWJR photos, I think number 61 could show either the Torbay
Express or Cornish Riviera Express on its way from Paddington to the West
country, and if those steam pipes are curved, then the loco is a ‘King Class
’. How sad am I? No answers required!

On your other query, I do recall Dr Hassall who I think was President of the
RBL. He was always very smartly dressed in a dark suit, three piece I
believe. You entered the surgery by going into the main yard of the Old
Bakery and the waiting room was at the far end on the right, with the
surgery, which always smelt of antiseptic and hospitals as they used to be,
between the waiting room and the main house.

You might like to see a letter from Dr Hassall’s wife (note spelling) in the
British Medical Journal from 19 Sept 1964 to be found at

Thank you again for all your work on the web site,

Best wishes,


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