Wagon train for Marston Gate

I was discussing various tales I had heard about the old railway line from Cheddington to Aylesbury. “Well,” says Margaret Stearn of Boarscroft Farm, “you know that Karen is related to the last Station Master!”

It turns out that Karen (pictured working at the Farm Shop) is great grand-daughter to Jack Rogers. He lived in the station house which stood on pillars to bring it level with the platform. Unfortunately the platform was not high enough for the carriages. A design fault. So Mr Rogers built some wooden steps which he could move into position to help any passengers as required. The space under the house was not wasted; this is where kept his chickens.

On one occasion he was cycling past the church and was heard muttering: “They will have to wait!” He had seen the steam and smoke as the engine left Cheddington and realised he would not be back in time to open the level-crossing gates. Apparently two maintenance men walked the line from Cheddington to Aylesbury every day and then rode back at the end of the day. This was in all weathers. I don’t know who was responsible penning any sheep and cattle that arrived in the siding. A real ‘jack-of-all-trades’ if Mr Rogers or his porters did the job. I expect that the farmer who owned the stock would be informed.

Some of the cattle would have had quite a journey. Margaret tells me her father, Frank Bunker, was a farmer but also a cattle dealer, going to market most days of the week with Margaret acting as driver. Mr Bunker would also go to Ireland buying cattle. This was a regular trade; cattle brought to finish on English farms. The cattle were loaded onto the boat and shipped across the sea. They had to be driven into cattle wagons and dispatched by train to all parts. Mr Bunker sent some to markets, perhaps Banbury or Northampton. Selected ones would end up at Marston Gate Station to be finished on his farm at Boarscroft. The station master at Cheddington was senior to Mr Rogers and would travel down the line to keep an eye on Marston Gate. I don’t expect he would herd cattle.

Today (13th September) they have announced another outbreak of foot and mouth in Surrey. I hope it can be controlled. Cattle will soon have to be brought into yards for the winter. There are many sales as sheep and cattle come down off the hills in Wales and Scotland. There would have been these problems in Mr Bunker’s time, but this year because of the big jump in the price of corn, cattle feed has shot up too.

Dare I wish for a little rain? Simon has drilled the oil seed rape. It’s placed in the top inch, which has dried out. I spoke to Matt Kempster. His doctor tells him he could start work in one month, after his course of physiotherapy. He must be a very tough young man.

I saw a programme about great journeys and it told us that in the Middle Ages they had mild winters and warm summers. Global warming. Was there re-cycling advice in the Domesday Book?

Article appeared in the Village News October 2007 page 20. The agricultural story line… by David Mead

This article is an extract from previous issue of the Village News. Any mention to events in the article have probably long since passed and are for information only.

Village News October 2007

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