Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Goods by Rail

When did you last take a parcel down to your nearest railway station so that they could send it on to its destination? Can't remember? I thought not. The very idea of sending parcels by rail is now completely off the radar.

Wolverton, like most railway stations has an active parcels office once. In the third station it was on the right hand side and there was a huge weighing scale standing in the lobby. Years ago Wolverton residents and businesses would happily take their parcels to the office tied up with rough string and sealed with sealing wax for despatch.

So there were actually two parcels offices in Wolverton - the Post Office obviously and the railway Parcels Office. I am not sure how one distinguished between the two. Perhaps one was cheaper than the other or perhaps the railway Parcels Office was chosen for more bulky goods. I suspect businesses used it more than individuals, but I do know that families would use it to send their luggage to their hotel or boarding house in advance of their holidays. There was, of course, regular delivery of stacks of newspapers every morning. I also remember a lift from the platform to street level in the middle of the station.

The old station (i.e. the second station off Young Street) was also converted into a Goods Depot after 1881. There was a network of shunting yards and certainly heavy goods like coal and cement might be distributed from here.

Goods traffic was the primary money spinner for the railway companies for about a century and huge Goods Depots were developed across the country - Willesden and Broad Street in London were examples. Rail transport was fast and economic. Road haulage was mostly confined to short runs from the depot to final destination. After WW II the picture changed and railways lost their way. I'll come to that tomorrow.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

In my time the parcels office at Wolverton station was already out of use and used for bicycle parking.

I do remember the single ticket window with its indentation worn into the polished wood counter through so many years of use. And the short piece of handrail adjacent.