Busy Junction

Recollections of Francis Mann

Transcribed from a recorded interview made by Allan Guy (2001)

[AG] "Francis, you were working at Coaley Junction, round about what time?"

[FM] "It was just after the war anyway, about '50, '51, something like that."

[AG] "And what were you doing down there?"

[FM] "I was a porter, shunter, goods porter, lamp man... you name it, we done it. It was that sort of station, it was a country station so you done everything practically."

[AG] "Were there many people working on the station then?"

[FM] "Let me see... there'd be stationmaster, clerk, two leading porters, two Grade 2 porters and three crossing keepers."

[AG] "What names come to mind?"

[FM] "Well, stationmasters there was... let me think... Les Jones, when I started, he's now an Area Manager down in the Plymouth region. There was Ernie Bray, I don't know what's happened to Ernie... and Charlie Viney who's buried in Lower Cam churchyard. Bill Lord and Ernie Morris, leading porters, myself, Walt Price from Cam's Green. Levy Leonard, he lived up Hunger Hill in Dursley. This is going back right at the start, when I started. Since then of course you've had Derek Markey, Gilroy Kerr... Oh, the signalmen were Oliver Higgins from the top of Cam Pitch, Bob Sticker from Halmore and Walt Wood from Dray... Box Road. Incidentally his son worked there as well in later years, as a signalman."

[AG] "It was quite a busy little junction then?"

[FM] "Oh, it was very busy. I mean you had all the grain for Workman's flour mills. That could be anything... 20, 30 wagons a day... well, grain hoppers. Oh yes, it was quite a busy station."

[AG] "And what came down from Dursley?"

[FM] "Lister's, Lister's stuff in particular. Plus coal, a lot of coal... a lot of coal was transported then up to Dursley and to Coaley Junction for the local coalman."

[AG] "Oh, I see, this is Josh Price?"

[FM] "Yes, there's another couple from Frampton and one from Uley."

[AG] "And did much come out of Mawdsley's?"

[FM] "Not so much as Lister's but we did get some yes. But of course that never used to bother us normally 'cos that was a through train and... all the perishables, anything urgent came through on a parcels wagon which went on the up parcels at 9:15 at night, picked up direct."

[AG] "Were there many trains stopping at Coaley Junctions?"

[FM] "Oh, yes, yes, quite a few. We had all the stopping trains, plus the up express in the morning to Newcastle. And all the... we had a lot of excursions in the summer."

[AG] "What about... do you remember the occasions when the Donkey went through one or two of the level crossing gates?"

[FM] "No I don't actually. I can remember when it hit a cow."

[AG] "Really, where was that?"

[FM] "Up the other side of Box Road crossing. Up towards the leather mills. It came round the corner and smacked at it. Well actually, it charged... it charged the Donkey in actual fact, yes. And of course, the inevitable, it killed it of course."

[AG] "And, I seem to remember that Coaley Junction was a popular place for releasing homing pigeons."

[FM] "Oh, yes we used to do that, it was part of the job. Oh, yes, they used to come from all over the... all over England and I used to release them at a certain time, by seven o'clock at night, something like this, it just depended. Well, they would put on the box, when they wanted them to be released. I mean that was big business for the railways, pigeons. We used to get cattle and all at Coaley Junction in those days. In the down siding, we used to have cattle pens down there."

[AG] "Where would they be going to?"

[FM] "To the local farmers."

[AG] "I see, what coming from Gloucester."

[FM] "Yes, well anywhere where they bought them. That soon tailed off though after... I hadn't been there long and it tailed off. We did get them, yes. If you were down... if you were on early turn on the Saturday morning, Lister's... you know it broke up on the Friday night, the first start of their holidays. Anything up to 800 people on the down platform."

[AG] "And they would be going off to Devon and Cornwall by train?"

[FM] "All over the place, yes, anywhere, yes that's right."

[AG] "Right, well, Francis Mann, many thanks for talking to me."

[FM] "That's alright, any time."