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Times Past

On-Line Sales lead to Memories of Times Past

We recently received an on line order from Wilts & Berks Canal Trust member Neil Rumbol.

We added a message to his compliment slip noting that he was our very first on-line customer nearly two years ago, and to thank him for his continued custom.

This simple thing prompted an email recounting a delightful tale of times past.

We thank Neil for permission to share the story with you.

Neil's email commenced thus…

I’m hoping you’re the person who wrote and signed the CCT comp slip with my recent order for the ‘Severn Bridge Disaster’.

I was interested to learn that I was the first person to make an online purchase some two years ago. I trust your online sales have progressed since then, especially with the PayPal facility.

You may be interested to know what prompted me to make the purchase of the ‘Severn Bridge Disaster’.

I was born in Lydney, just across the estuary from Sharpness, and where my grandfather ran a shoe repairing business from sometime in the late 1920s until his death in the early 1970s.

(See the picture above – note the period TV aerial and the belisha beacons)

We used to visit him two or three times a year, travelling by train from Paddington to Gloucester and thence by bus to Lydney.

The scent of Stroud & Footplate Fun

I used to see the canal during the journey through the Stroud valley, and always remember the smell of the brewery whilst waiting in Stroud station.

My uncle was at that time a guard on goods trains and worked out of Gloucester Eastgate (Midland) station. On one occasion he arranged for us to travel (unofficially I assume!) on the footplate from Lydney Town as far as the Junction station from where we travelled as ‘normal’ passengers to Berkeley Road and back, via the Severn Bridge.

After the Disaster

Later, in the early 60s, I remember walking from Lydney to a field just above Severn Bridge station, watching trains on the Lydney – Gloucester main line, while the bridge was still in existence, but with the missing two bridge spans visible in the background.


Hence I look forward with great interest to reading the in-depth story of the actual accident. 

(Click on the book if you would like to purchase your own copy.)

Early Membership of what became the Cotswold Canals Trust

Some 10-15 years later, I actually became involved with the (then) Stroudwater, Thames & Severn C.S., and became the appeals secretary, raising money at that time specifically for the restoration of the eastern portal of Sapperton Tunnel.

Hope this might be of some passing interest to you.
All the best. Neil Rumbol. 

Someone who knows Neil sent in this 1960s cine film of the bridge shot not long after the disaster.

There is no commentary but… the sender likes jazz!