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Wednesday 14 March 2018

Three Counties Horse Boxes in Malvern - June 1961

A new post this week, thanks to a contributor who captured an unusual occurence at Great Malvern station over 55 years ago.

Richard Moreton writes:
'These were taken on 16th June 1961, when a train of Southern region horseboxes, coach and well wagon with a carriage were unloaded at Great Malvern, all in connection with the Three Counties Show. This was the only occasion when I saw the end-loading dock on the down side in use (although I believe that in the mid-1950s when Sanger's Circus came to town the elephants got off there). At that time, it was possible to walk from the down-side exit along an unsurfaced extension of Thorngrove Road, turning left by Imperial Garage and coming out in Manby Road. There was a gate for vehicles unloaded from the loading dock to exit via this unsurfaced road. I suppose in the days of the water-cure this could have been a regular occurence.

The bay platform, after the closure of the Ashchurch line, was used for a variety of trains... the pigeon train, the school baggage train, and from 1959-61, a local Worcester-Ledbury train recessed there in the afternoon for an hour or so. I used to catch it to get home from school, as the Paddington train ran non-stop from Great Malvern to Hereford, and I needed to retrieve my bike from Malvern Wells station.'

Southern Region horseboxes in the Midland bay platform, June 1961.
Southern Region horseboxes on the up line at Great Malvern, June 1961.
Southern Region horseboxes departing southwards, June 1961.

The next shot is of a 'pigeon train' waiting in the Midland Bay at Great Malvern.

Jon Pratty recalls:
'The pigeon train was usually a diesel multiple unit or a loco with parcel vans carrying hundreds of pigeons in baskets. These were racing pigeons from all over the Midlands, sent by their owners by rail, to be released a distance away. The pigeons would then fly back home, getting valuable racing practice. It's amazing, but this was a regular weekly event. I don't know if the pigeon fanciers sent their racing pigeons elsewhere - they must have done - but Malvern was a regular destination. British Rail charged to carry the baskets with ten or fifteen pigeons in each one. The baskets were gathered together in groups by region then sent here on one train. When the train pulled in, station staff and us trainspotters would unload the baskets onto luggage trolleys, then line the trolleys up on the platform edge. Then we'd unbuckle the baskets and let out the racing birds in one big feathery cloud. Great fun! I have no idea when this stopped.'

3738 on the Wolverhampton - Great Malvern pigeons trains, recessing while the birds were released.

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