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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
 
Railway Station, Godalming, 1905
Godalming's Railway Station wasn't very different 100 years ago


The sender of this card wrote in 1908 that "Godalming is at its best now". It was sent to Mr. Jack H. Rockell in Brixton. The image shows the Victorian station building on Station Approach. Taxis have replaced the horses and carriages and the station building has been restored relatively recently but it otherwise looks very similar to the way it did a hundred years ago. There used to be a "single dock" siding, rather like the one there used to be at Farncombe, where the car park is today. The building is now Grade II listed.

This was not the first station in the town. Godalming was initially at the end of the railway line and the terminus was on Old Station Road[1]. In 1855 Richard Masey Hillier was the Station Master there and Godalming was described as being "on the Guildford and Godalming railway ... The London and Portsmouth railway, now in course of formation, will pass through the town[2]".

The South Western Railway opened in 1859 and Godalming and Farncombe were then served by two stations. Following the opening on 1st January it was reported that the station was still unfinished, "taxing alike the ingenuity of the station master, as well as all the employees to meet the requirements of the public". A few days later the trains to Havant were said to be running regularly and were "tolerably" well filled with passengers[3]. There were eight trains daily[4] and the line was initially single track. The station itself was known as Godalming New.

One Saturday evening in December 1865 two cast iron chairs were placed on the metal rails about a quarter of a mile to the south of the station. Trains were normally full of passengers at that time of day but fortunately that wasn't the case on this occasion. The weight of the engine cut the chairs in two; if it hadn't done so it was believed that the train, which was close to a bridge when the accident occurred, would have been derailed with considerable loss of life. It is not known if the culprits were ever caught[5].

The following year a less than sober railway porter was fined for trespassing on the line. An engine driver reported hitting something and the man was quickly discovered, covered in sand, by the railway clerk and another porter who went to investigate. The inebriated porter claimed he was on the line because he wanted to catch a train and had not heard anything before he was knocked down. However, it was thought that it was more likely that he'd fallen over and the train had just brushed him when it passed rather than knocking him down[6]. He had a lucky escape.

In 1878 Frederick Charles Jearum (1846-1897) was the station master at both stations; he lived on New Way with his wife and family[7]. They lived in the two storey station house, shown above (the floor directly under the roof is designated as an attic). The 1881 census records that he was born in Winchester and was the father of seven children[8]. Mr. Martin W. Dodge was the goods manager at the old station at the same time[7][8]. He lived at Old Station House in Old Station Road. W. Wiggins, with premises in Bridge street, was a goods delivery agent[7].

Farncombe Railway station (see next page) was opened in May 1897 and was then used by passengers instead of the Old Godalming station; that station became a goods depot[9]. In both 1901[10] and 1913[9] the following men were listed at the Godalming station and the depot:

[Godalming] Station, Edgar Ernest Smith, station manager ; Alfred Perry, goods agent, at Goods Depot station (Mr. Smith was born at Paddington and Mr. Perry at Salisbury).


"Godalming, Railway Station". Frith Series Postcard No.54682, published in 1905. Posted in Godalming on 23 Jul 1908.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Page written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
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References:

[1] "Hampshire Chronicle", Sat 2 December 1848. The paper included a report that the first sod of the Godalming extension line railway from Guildford had been cut by George Marshall. Esq. the previous week. A large number of people were present, including many of the local gentry. The contractors were West and Bradshaw. On the Wednesday (29 Nov) the works were suspended by the order of the company's directors! The line was opened in 1849.

[2] "Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Kent ..." (1855), Part 1: Counties & Localities, pub. Kelly & Co., Old Boswell Court, Temple Bar, London, p.702.

[3] "West Surrey Times", 8 January 1859. The new Portsmouth Railway.

[4] "Surrey Comet", 1 January 1859.

[5] "London Evening Standard", 13 December 1865. Diabolical attempt to upset a railway train. This was also reported on the 16 December 1865 in the "Aldershot Military Gazette".

[6] "Dover Express", 18 May 1866. Marvellous escape from death on the railway.

[7] "Post Office Directory of Surrey" (1878) Kelly & Co. Ltd, London, p.2233.

[8] 1881 Census of England and Wales, National Archives. He passed away in 1897 and is buried at the Nightingale Cemetery.

[9] "Kelly's Directory of Surrey" (1913) Kelly & Co. Ltd, London, p.210. The directory states that Farncombe was opened in 1898 but it had actually opened the previous year. Edgar Ernest Smith, of the New Station, was buried at Eashing Cemetery in 1919.

[10] 1901 Census of England and Wales, National Archives.



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From New Way (2), 1907