The following account of Broadway Station and Broadway’s Postal Service was written in 1979 by Maurice Andrews MBE (1923-2016). Maurice Charles Andrews was born and grew up in Broadway where he attended Broadway Council School. The Second World War and work took Maurice away from Broadway but he later returned with his family in 1948. Maurice was Broadway Correspondent at the Evesham Journal for many years, a Parish Councillor for both Broadway and Willersey and a member of many clubs and organisations in Broadway. During his retirement, Maurice often gave wonderfully detailed talks on the Cotswolds and on the village he loved. The following account is from Maurice’s personal records that were donated to Broadway History Society by his daughter.
The Railway and the Post
The opening of the railway station in Broadway must have been a great day for the locals. It certainly was for the business people for whom it was a great increase in the number of visitors to an already well known village.
My father1 was then sixteen years of age, and living in Willersey, and in the years before the actual opening date he and his brothers had watched the progress of the construction of the line. He has told me often how, after coming in from work with the horses and waggons, he had to go across the fields at the back of the family’s cottage to bring back his younger brother, Harry, who with the other Willersey youngsters were watching the men at work.
The station opened on 1st August 1904 and dray loads of people came from the villages around to witness the opening ceremony. Many came from Willersey, including my father, and the children who were still at school were taken on drays to Broadway then treated to a ride on the train to Stratford. My mother2, then eighteen and working at the Broadway vicarage, took time off to attend with her father and mother, and sister Emily.
By the late 1920s my brothers and sisters, and I, came into contact with the life of the railway station when we were collecting the newspapers for delivery to the village. We delivered to homes from Evesham Road Reservoir up to Court Farm at the foot of the hill, and from The Vineyard down to The Lodge at the old church (St Eadburgha’s, Snowshill Road). We would probably be working on father’s allotment at The Meadow, beyond the railway on the Childswickham Road, and as soon as we heard the train coming along the line – the ‘coffee pot’ we called it – we would leave out onion tying or whatever jobs we were doing to run to the station to meet it.
Some of the porters I remember were Frank Phillips3 and later Vic Hunt and Len Lloyd, the signalman, leaning out of his signal box and keeping an eye on things. George Collins, the shunter, was in the Goods Yard and others ‘on the line’ were Bill Horne, Ben Kilby and George Holford.
At the station daily, to collect parcels for delivery around the area would be Philip Rose and his son, Geoffrey, with their horse and dray, and to meet the visitors there would be the cars from the Lygon Arms and the big houses. At the time of arrival and departure of a train there would be much activity and bustle, then the station would be deserted and peace and quiet would return.
It is quieter today. No trains, no staff, no neat platforms, with their flowerbeds. Surely it is obvious to us all now, in 1979, with almost every road in the country packed with heavy lorries and cars, that the closure of many of our railway stations and routes was a great mistake. My guess is before the end of the century work will be put in hand to revive some of the old railway lines and stations, I hope so – who knows, as in 1904, in 2004 there may be another opening ceremony at Broadway Station4.
Closely connected with life at the railway station were the village postmen. As Broadway was one of the bigger villages the local Post Office had many postmen to cover a wide area of the surrounding villages. The postmen in my boyhood days wore the old ‘bucket’ helmets and nearly all the rounds were done on foot. I remember such postmen as Arthur Parker5, father of Arthur Parker the decorator, George Keyte, Arnold Folkes, Charlie Jarrett6, Teddy Charlwood, Walter Preston, ‘Postman’ Hall and “Postman’ Green (I never did hear the forenames of the last two – it was always ‘Postman”).
The Andrews boys came into contact with the postmen when they bought the mail to the station, and collected the incoming mail, and as we took the newspapers from the incoming train we had to undo the bundles quickly so that the postmen could have first copy.
‘Postman’ Green7 had three sons, David, John and Philip – Philip too became a postman – and our family members often relate an amusing story regarding David. At school, Mr Bridgman8 was nearing the end of a scripture lesson and he asked the class “Who was David’s father?”. A wit at the back of the class as quick as lightning replied “Mr Green the postman!”
‘Postman’ Hall lived in the cottage next to the Coach and Horses and Teddy Charlwood lived at Mill Avenue. Teddy was a former Army Sergeant-Major and I remember him in the early years of the 1939-1945 war, before I joined the forces, using his former skills in teaching us, the Local Defence Volunteers (later the Home Guard), our rifle drill. Teddy’s son Arthur, was also an Army man for many years.
Life for the village postmen is now very different. Most of them have motor vans in which to make their deliveries, unlike those of long ago who had to walk from Broadway, in all sorts of weather to Farncombe, Aston Somerville, Childswickham, Willersey, Saintbury, Buckland and to Stanton. However, like the railwaymen, the postmen, even today, especially in the rural areas, are an important part of the community and I always think there is something special about their character.
Maurice C. Andrews MBE
Broadway History Society
1. George Gazey Andrews, born Willersey on 9th March 1888.
2. Mary Andrews (née Pulley), born Broadway on 29th September 1886.
3. Frank Alfred Phillips (1897-1993) – see Broadway Remembers for further information.
4. Broadway Station was re-opened, part of the GWSR Steam Railway on 30th March 2018. The railway now operates a full steam and heritage diesel train service between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse via Toddington (the railway’s headquarters), Hayles Abbey, Winchcombe and Gotherington.
5. Arthur Parker MM, born Broadway in 1897 – see Broadway Remembers for further information.
6. Charles Jarrett joined the Post Office in 1918 after being discharged with wounds from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1917. He retired in December 1954 after 36 years with the Post Office.
7. Harry John Green was born in Clerkenwell, London, in 1844, and served as a postman in Broadway for many years.
8. Archibald Bridgman, Headmaster of Broadway Council School.