School journey to Stroud

Recollections of Harold Fryer

Transcribed from a recorded interview made by Allan Guy (2000)

[AG] "The Dursley Donkey was a vital link in the community transport system. How vital is illustrated by 83 year old Harold Fryer who lives in Chapel Street, Cam, recalling how he made the daily journey by train from Cam to Marling School, near Stroud."

[HF] "I had to get up in the morning and... mother of course got me off with a packed lunch. I had to go to Cam station, as it was then, and catch the... about twenty to eight train... from Cam station, go down to Coaley Junction, as it was then called, which of course is not quite the same position as the present Cam station. Change to a stopping train to Gloucester, which stopped at Frocester and then at Stonehouse, not the present Stonehouse station but the old Stonehouse station which was the LMS station, which is more or less opposite Stonehouse Court Hotel. The old station is still there to some extent, now used as a coal yard. Now from there, I went through what was called a covered way, down to a little station, a little platform on the line which ran from Stonehouse LMS round to Dudbridge."

[AG] "The Dudbridge Donkey?"

[HF] "Yes, and then this separated at Dudbridge. Half the train went to Stroud, half went to Woodchester and Nailsworth, but I used to get out at Dudbridge, walk up to Marling School and get there in time for 9 o'clock."

[AG] "Quite a journey."

[HF] "Yes, and then in the evening... in the morning it was not too lengthy as regards time but in the evening I used to leave school at about 4 o'clock... 4 o'clock or quarter past four but I didn't get home until half past six."

[AG] "'Cos the Dursley Donkey was quite popular then, wasn't it?"

[HF] "Oh, yes, it was indeed. I can remember of course, they used to run cheap day tickets to Gloucester, presumably they were on a Saturday, and I'm uncertain about the... but I think it was about two shillings or so, I think it was only about two shillings, which was there and back on the same day and then it was only... there was a restriction on the time you could leave in the morning. You had to leave after a certain time in the morning. Yes, that was old money of course."

[AG] "Of course, two shillings, that's 10 pence, or something like that isn't it."

[HF] "But that was very well patronised, often the station would be absolutely jammed with people."

[AG] "And of course, Sunday School outings?"

[HF] "Indeed, but I can remember going on one or two trips, Sunday School outings, particularly one down to the pleasure gardens at Sharpness. They had a pleasure gardens down at Sharpness, what they called, on the foreshore of the Severn and you could get teas and that down there and all this was provided by the Wesleyan chapel, whether you paid or... but the journey was very interesting. You got in the Dursley Donkey, down to Coaley, and then the same carriages, so you didn't have to get out, were shunted out on to the main line and then they were taken down the main line to Berkeley Road, round the old Berkeley, Sharpness, Lydney line and we got out at Sharpness and the reverse journey coming back."

[AG] "Where, in Sharpness, were these pleasure gardens?"

[HF] "Well, that I'm not quite so certain because we all got off the train en-masse and sort of walked round there. I think you'd find that anyone who lived in Sharpness at the time would know this. They were quite... not too far from Sharpness station. You could look out over the Severn, I can remember that and it was grassy banks there with a number of items there like swings... not the commercial swings so much, as things just put up by workmen."

[AG] "Scaffolding and planks?"

[HF] "Yes, of course, the plank across a fulcrum, where you could sit on and go up and down."

[AG] "Seesaw."

[HF] "Yes, seesaw, very simple things but a good time was had by all I can assure you. And of course the train journey was quite interesting that... to do that. Not many people can have gone from Cam to Sharpness without changing trains. Of course, you wouldn't do it at all now."