Godfrey Jellyman (born 1923)
Occasionally we would go into Stroud, we had to walk down the hill and catch a railcar as there were no buses then. You caught the railcar from Chalford to Stroud, it turned at Chalford. The station at Brimscombe was bigger with a bigger engine to get it up the hill. Express trains were quite long and had a job to get up the hill, they would go up gently behind to get them up top for Swindon and just eased off and the train went on and engine would turn round and come back. There was a big signal box at Brimscombe, they stopped at Bowbridge and Ham Mill. They used to stop anywhere and anyone going to school had to catch the train.
All teachers at school were ladies. In those days they come from Stroud but they had to walk up the hill from Toadsmoor.
Later on when I was older the buses were running; I must have been nearly leaving school then. The buses go from Chalford all the way down the valley to Stroud and then on to Stonehouse. They ran every 20 minutes so people went on the bus rather than on the train. There were two companies, the Red & White and the Western National.
Dulcie Brimfield (born c. 1926?)
(When I bought a new bike, in the war,) my father wouldn’t let me ride it along the Chalford Valley. He didn’t want me to ride through all the traffic on this new, stiff bicycle. I had to push it all the way up to the top of Stroud and come through Bisley, and it was a hot day. Of course His Lordship came home on a bus and I was ages getting home.
I used to go down on the railcar when I was at Gloucester with Pam. The only other time I used the railcar was if we had snow and the buses were off.
I used to walk or run (to work) because I always left it to the last minute, into Chalford Valley and get the bus into Stroud and a connection to Nailsworth and I used to get to Lightpill like that, until I had the car in 1963. (When I worked in Stroud) on more than one occasion I caught the last bus out of Stroud at midnight.
Anne Sutton (born 1927)
For a while when we were at High School we used to get taken in in the car which was then put up during the war, KO 523, that’s imprinted on my memory. We used to drive into Beards Lane, it was a great big old tourer so there were children from every angle getting out.
After that it was on the bus. Some children used to go on the railcar. If you got assisted travel you went on the railcar, you were given a season ticket for that, in those days things were means tested and so if you salary was over so much you didn’t get any help, the fact that there were 11 children didn’t come into the equation. So we had bus season tickets, my father didn’t think it fair to get petrol for the car with the war. Someone had to ferry it across the oceans, so he wasn’t one of those who tried it on or anything. There was a bus at the bottom of the garden every half hour or twenty minutes so it wasn’t right to get petrol.
My two brothers, who were at Marling School, they used to cycle in. About three boys from Chalford Hill would come down to our house where they kept their bicycles and they would all set out in convoy to Marling School, all winds and weathers, with their capes on in the wet.
I went to Stroud School. We had season tickets, double deckers, 8.20 bus and be at school for 8.50. We walked from Stroud to the schools. We had school dinners there and we got home about 5.0 by the time we walked back up the hill. It was a long day.
When we got a bit older we used to play football against different teams like Bisley, Oakridge, Coppice Hill Rovers and Minchinhampton. We used to walk to these places to play. There weren’t any buses between villages. There was one up here (France Lynch) once or twice a day, a National Green bus. On Toadsmoor if it was full, the bus couldn’t cope so we all got off and walked up the hill and the bus followed.
We used the Chalford Railcar to Gloucester. There were lots of little halts on the rail car. I used to go to Swindon on the train to watch the football, every now and again.
The canal wasn’t used a lot. There was a few boats on it but not very many. There was one big open rowing boat left on the side of the canal near the police station, and it rotted away.
George Gleed (born 1930)
We went (to school) on the railcar. We had a season ticket and we didn’t have to pay anything. We always had fun in the railcar. It stopped at every halt. It took 20 minutes or so. There was leg pulling and all good fun, no bullying.
There were buses as well. Marling School was higher school. They used to have tickets for the bus as there were always punch ups!
Cynthia Gleed (born 1933)
When it was bad weather in the winter I used to have to walk over to Stroud with my brother and mother to get the shopping. My mother was a Stroud person and come hell or high water she had to get to Stroud on a Saturday. The worst winter I can remember was 1947, when there was a bus stuck in the snow at Stancombe for three weeks in the snow. There was pictures in the local paper about it.
Grace Banyard (born 1930)
(During the war) we used to go to dances up at Aston Down once a week. You had to go down to Chalford bottom, I went on my bike down the hill and if you couldn’t catch the special bus from Stroud you had to walk, then get it back before 12.0. My dad was very strict. We had to be in by 10.0.
We used to catch the railcar to the Subs on a Saturday. We used to catch the railcar from Chalford. You could come out the Subs past the pub called the Post Office and go down an alley to the station.
I always worked for British Rail as Great Western had finished by the time I started. The rail was a sought after job. There was a driver, a fireman and a guard. The fireman stayed with the engine all the time and the driver went across to the accelerator which also linked up to the brake. The guard was collecting tickets and helping people on and off.
5.0 in the morning, by the time you got that engine filled up with water, built the fire up, you’re up to Chalford for 7.0. The first one was about quarter past seven, half past seven. Got into Gloucester for 8.0. Once you’d got that fire right look, built up and nice and warm, you could run for an hour on that.
We took water at Stroud. Chalford had no water but Brimscombe had water. I’ve shovelled a few ton of coal trying to get up that bank at Brimscombe and round the viaducts at Frampton Mansell and then there was that final one up into the tunnel. When you got into them curves it took all the pressure, top gear I can assure you. All the coal dust was flying and everything was banging and clanking.
My shift started 5.0 in the morning and when you went down on the 1.0 that was the end of your shift. Then 1.0 until half past 10 at night. Eight hour shift altogether. We used to work alternate one week on early and the next week lates. If there was any overtime on a Sunday, that was our job.
Then I went on to the railcar and I was working with Chris Graves from St. Marys. We used to take the first railcar down to service the engine at Gloucester at lunchtime. Then I moved over to the other shift with David Pearce. The best bit about it was you knew everyone by name. I would help put the prams on and things like that. Put the mail on if we were taking the mail through. It was a lovely job.
I did a morning shift and an afternoon shift and had every Sunday off. You got paid more mileage on a Saturday than the chappies that went to London and back with the express. It was Gloucester and on to Cheltenham on a Saturday. Busy little job.
The station at Chalford was very nice. In my day at the station you had cattle and sheep. Can’t remember pigs. They had the toilets right by where we stopped. We used to leave the coach there at night and take the engine down to Brimscombe to be serviced because the shed got burned down at Chalford.
You had Fibrecrete who had their own special train so the asbestos didn’t get broken, and the coal people, Smarts, they had their own wagons with the name painted on the side.
There was a goods train that started at Stonehouse, ‘cause that was a busy line with the bricks. Stroud was thriving, I can tell you. They had wheat, meal, food from Townsend’s (?), coal. They stored the coal there and had a weigh bridge and everything. It was a big yard, where all the car parks are now.
The early shift meant getting up at 5.0 in the morning. We’d service the engine, fill up with water and heat the coach up so we could run the first lot of workers through to Gloucester. It was a busy little train that first one down through the valley. It used to get really busy. When the schools were taking people swimming, from Ebley to Dannicotts/Gannicox? we’d have to put another coach on, that’s how busy it got.
We had two deaths at Frampton Mansell. Someone got ploughed into in a land rover not so long ago. In my day we had a signal box at Frampton Mansell and the chappie there worked days and the chap who lived in the house was a Mr. Parker and there was no problem. Once they come out of that tunnel mind they’re bloody moving. You don’t hear ‘em and it’s on a curve as well.
A motorcyclist got killed not so long ago on the same crossing, a Cashes Green boy. They was manned you see in my day. It was manned ‘cause of the school kids going across to school. We used to drop them off a few bits of coal when we went by them.
Jenny David (born 1933) & Vesta Rock (born 1934)
(During the war) we had Americans on the common. We had black Americans one side of the common and white on the other. It was the same on the bus. If there was a black couple on the bus and two whites came on and there was nowhere for them to sit, they made the black ones stand. This one particular time – it was the talk of the village – everyone was on the side of the black couple. They were sat there and these white ones got on and they said ‘out’. This was Brimscombe they’d got to. And the bus conductress said, she stood by the door out and said ‘this bus doesn’t move until you leave them alone’. She wouldn’t have it.
Shirley Bushell (born 1943)
I remember the last lengthsman that worked on the canal, who lived in the Round House. Cecil King he was. He just looked after a length of the canal. I don’t remember barges (on the canal), it was coming towards its end then in the 60s, things got filled in and built over and it all changed. We used to go fishing in the canal when we were young for tiddlers! The locks were still then in good order. I can’t remember boats coming up.
The yard opposite was where the boats came in with coal and salt. The barge stopped there just in the basin past the Round House, because that was all open. So to get out from here you went over the canal bridge. The yard was where they unloaded the coal from the barges. There’s a bit of a sort of basin by the Round House, bigger than what is now, and that’s the unloading area. The bridge that got pulled down was where you come off the A419 now. That was quiet then. There was a little bit of traffic but I remember my mother saying when she grew up they had hoops and spinning and all that there in the road, it was so quiet.
To get to the playing field we went on the road or on the canal path. Everything was so well kept then somehow, not overgrown like these days!
We had double decker red buses every 20 minutes from Chalford and they went through to Stonehouse and the last bus to leave the bottom of Marle Hill was 20 to 11.0 at night! That was the bus terminus. There was an air raid shelter in the war in the centre of that grass bit at the bottom of Marle Hill! So they say!
You could go on the railcar to Stroud or Gloucester. You went up the Black Gutter and you’d be at the back of Cowcombe Hill and walk up to the station, or you could go down to St. Mary’s halt and get on there. I can remember my grandmother complaining about all the black soot specs from steam trains over the washing. You could see it in those days as there were no trees. I can still smell them now. They went quite slowly because it’s an incline up here. You used to have the bankers on the back. You could catch a train to Swindon. It was easy to get around in those days if you could afford it. You used to take children on with their prams on the railcar. It was very handy.
Gerald Gardiner (born 1933)
This was all fields when I lived along there (Chalford Hill). You used to come out of the woods into wide open fields but it’s now all houses. It’s a very big estate. They didn’t make the roads that good. It’s not very good getting from the road to the bungalow, and all them wants to go to Cheltenham and that they’ve got to go through Bisley and that’s flaming awkward. There’s a path at the back of Bisley where if they’d bought a bit of the land there they could have made a nice wide road like a bypass.
Margaret Mills (born 1934)
(From 1952) I went (to work) on the railcar from Chalford to Gloucester every day. 10 shillings a week that cost me but I was only earning £2.10sh anyway so it was quite a lot. It was packed. It ran every hour. I caught the 8.0 from here to get into Gloucester for 9.0 and caught the 5.0 home. I was allowed to leave a little early to catch it. It was quite something for someone living in Chalford to go to Gloucester to work.
There were also buses from Chalford to Stroud, every 20 minutes, and of course they were pretty full because people didn’t have their own cars. If we went on outings to Weston or somewhere, we went by coach and you could get to Cirencester on the bus. Occasionally we went to Gloucester on the bus – that was quite a thing to go all the way there on the bus. When we were children that was.
The canal we always took for granted – there was a lot of activity, a lot of industry in the valley and a lot of people worked here, they didn’t go away to work like they do now but they worked in the valley.
Beryl (born 1941) & Derek (born 1938) Freebury
(Beryl) I stayed in Eastcombe until I went to school in Stroud. We never went out anywhere else. We never had a car so our life revolved round the village. It was a big thing for me to get on a bus and go to school in Stroud. It was a normal service bus. I left Eastcombe at 5 to 8.0 and got home at 10 to 5.0. I remember a couple of years when we had snow, we used to have to walk down to the garage at Toadsmoor because there was a turning the bus could turn in. One winter we walked all the way down to the main road and I had to go to the headmistress to ask to leave an hour early to get home in the snow.
There weren’t many cars when we were growing up. People used bikes really. You wouldn’t really see a car. We used to make a tent on that bit of grass across the way as there was no traffic, so much quieter.
(Derek) I went to the school at Brimscombe where the port is for 2 years. The school bus used to start from Edgeworth, come all the way through Miserden, Bisley, Oakridge, over to Chalford Hill, and we were the last ones to get on, so when bad weather come you never went to school. It was a 55 seater and there was usually about 70 on it – we used to stand on it. You never got a seat when you got on up here. We used to walk when the weather was bad. One year we heard about a bus stuck in snow drifts at Stancombe, so we walked up there and back down into the school at Brimscombe.
(In 1953) I left school at 15 and started work at George Waller and Sons. It was down where Stroud Brewery is. I caught the bus at 7.20 and got there just before half past. 7.35 we used to start. There were two buses, one round France Lynch and the other started at Eastcombe. If they were short staffed there was no second bus, so we had to walk.
(When I was posted to Brompton Barracks at Chatham during National Service) I used to come home every other weekend. There was another chap who lived at Stonehouse and we’d leave Gillingham at 3.15 on Friday, fast train from Gillingham to Victoria, then the 5.0 down into Stroud, and then back on Sunday. Sometimes we used to go up on the mail train during the night.
Bob Messenger (born 1950)
My dad worked on the buses in Stroud. Father had shifts on the buses but don’t know what they were. Our dad had pushbike. Used to take it down by Lionel Padin’s, leave it there and catch the bus, then bring it back nights.
I started work at 15 straight from school down at Hope Mills. Used to be 8.0 to half past 4.0. Used to catch the bus. I remember the railcar, getting on at Chalford. Didn’t have a stop at Brimcombe. Used to walk down Marle Hill, struggle back up nights!
In the very cold winters the roads was horrible. Couldn’t get no buses up here at all. Usual, months of snow, everything stopped. All the shops used to run out of food an all.
Audrey Bishop (born 1932)
There was a playground attached to the school, of course. And of course there was no traffic about in those days. And if there was, everybody ran out to the gate to have a look. So you could play out in the road and play marbles, or ball or whatever, up and down the road, and if a car came everybody sort of (sucks in breath), ‘ooh, it’s a car!’. (The road) wasn’t too smooth, mind you – you could push the tarmac away, like gravel, you could make a drill…It wasn’t as smooth as it is now. I can’t remember if it was rough like a lane though.
I worked at Woolworth’s. A bus down Chalford Valley. I had to walk down the bottom and in those days you got snow, not a sprinkling. It was a slippery walk down. If you got down to Chalford Valley, it wasn’t so bad because you went along the valley. I don’t remember much problem with buses along the valley.
I don’t remember when they started running the bus coming up here, I don’t know whether it was before I was born or not. There’s always been a bus up here. They didn’t used to start in the morning. There used to be one at 2.0, one at 4.0, one at 6.0 and one at 8.0. I can remember that, but then eventually, as years went by, they started at 9.0 in the morning and more frequent.
I worked until I was 60 so a lot of what was going on up here I wasn’t involved in. When you have to be at work at 9.0, so get the bus at 20 to 9.0 down the valley, you leave here half past eight in the morning, didn’t get back till 6,0 at night you see. I just wasn’t here half the time.
May Smith (born 1924)
When I worked up on the aerodrome during the war, I used to run down Marle Hill to get the double decker to the Aston Down at 7.0 in the morning. I was working round on D site by Cherington, right out of the way.