Tag Archives: strawberry line times

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – FEATURE: when you could earn six shillings a week on the railway, blackberries were loaded by the barrel in Cheddar and everyone looked slim, fit and healthy (but there were chocolate machines at Cheddar Railway Station)

Cheddar Railway Station before the Second World War: a staff photograph

This article appeared in the Strawberry Line Times Magazine in 2013 following a meeting with Shirley Hudd of Cheddar who spoke about some family photographs back in the day. Harry Mottram reported at the time.

They are the faces that never fade. Those of the railwaymen who once peopled The Strawberry Line. Standing in their working clothes for the camera they reveal young men in the prime – now all dead – for these were the workers of the Edwardian railway. The images are from a collection of family photos owned by Shirley Hudd of Cheddar who approached the Strawberry Line Times after reading the first issue of the magazine.

With shunting pole in hand Bert is in front of steam engine 2302

In the first of the images we see her father Bert Adams and three of his work colleagues at the shunting yard at Cheddar Railway Station. With shunting pole in hand Bert is in front of steam engine 2302. He sits on his haunches sporting a Palermo hat, waistcoat and pocket watch on a chain. He looks in charge, at the height of youth – a man happy at work with his mates taken in the 1920s when the memories of the First War were still all around while the fears of another were yet to sink in.

Shirley said: “He used to earn about six shillings a week then. The trains would back up to the station to collect stone and rock from the Batscombe – and they’d tip the stones into a hopper. There was a square area there by Lower New Road where the lime was brought down from the kiln by steam lorry.”

Uncle Bert with another railway man in front of what Shirley believes were barrels containing blackberries – once harvested along the valley for jam makers and transported to the factories by rail

A second photo from the same inter-war years reveals Bert with some more colleagues. He has the uniform of a railway man complete with peak cap, buttoned collar and neat tie. Shirley said he worked for a time as a van boy as they were called – delivering parcels. His workmates wear the clothing of their tasks – with boots and heavy jackets – and note how their trousers are all short in length so they don’t trip over the hems while working. Perhaps you might be able to name the chaps standing in the light of a bright sunlight at Cheddar some time in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

Bert with some more colleagues in the 1930s

A third photo in the collection shows Bert with another railway man in front of what Shirley believes were barrels containing blackberries – once harvested along the valley for jam makers and transported to the factories by rail. If the nation’s taste for blackberry jam had taken off – then rather than the Strawberry Line it could have become the Blackberry Line instead!

Uncle Bert at Cheddar Station

The fourth image is of Bert in his uniform standing on the platform in Cheddar with the station in the background with a neat white picket fence running along the side of the down side of the platform. He appears again in a more formal study – this time of a station staff in the village grouped on the platform near the Booking Office and Waiting Room. A poster concerning coal and Victory in the First World War help to date the image as does the prevalence of moustaches – clearly in fashion in era when all working men appeared to require a hat to complete their wardrobe. The lady in the photograph is thought to be an office worker – and she doesn’t feel at all coy about revealing her ankles in the shot – another sign of the times. One of the striking aspects is nobody appears to be over weight – there was rationing of some food in the 1914-18 war but life was generally more frugal in those days – plus of course everyone walked or cycled much more.

It interesting to see there’s sweet and chocolate vending machine on the wall behind the group – and in the foreground to the right a milk churn awaits the attention of the workers. We would like to hear from anyone who can shed further light on these images – perhaps they can give some names to the faces – or any more background to the photos from the time when steam trains still ran along the Strawberry Line. Contact harryfmottram@gmail.com

For more visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

Follow Harry on twitter as @harrythespiv also on FaceBook, LinkedIn, YouTube and on Instagram

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS (VIDEO): Behind the scenes with David Parkin – staging The Ladykillers in Axbridge – building a theatre, creating the house in Kings Cross and recycling the last set (all with the help of a chocolate biscuit or two)

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The Ladykillers: a still taken from ACT’s stage play

When Axbridge Community Theatre staged The Ladykillers in the Town Hall in 2016 a team of talented folk worked behind the scenes to make it happen. This is the story of part of that team – the set designers and builders of Axbridge Community Theatre (ACT). The production was directed by Peter Honeyands and was adapted by Graham Linehan as a stage play in 2011 from the screen play written by William Rose for the 1955 film .


ACT’s next production is Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker directed by John Bailey. It will be staged in the town hall in Axbridge in Somerset on May 2-5, 2018.

Tickets will be on sale online from 23rd March 2018, and from Axbridge Chemists and Post Office from 1st April.

Observed by a lone, mystified Australian aboriginal , the convict ship arrives in Botany Bay in1788, crammed with England’s outcasts. Colony discipline in this vast and alien land is brutal. Three proposed public hangings incite an argument: how best to keep the criminals in line, the noose or a more civilised form of entertainment? The ambitious Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark steps forward with a play. But as the mostly illiterate cast rehearses, and a sense of common purpose begins to take hold, the young officer’s own transformation is as marked and poignant as that of his prisoners. The play is far from grim. Actually it’s mostly funny! “All people tend to become what society says they are! In performance the convicts challenge their definition.” 

For more films about ACT visit www.harrymottram and for the drama group see www.axbridgecommunitytheatre.org.uk

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: Specially for foodies – the date of the Next Axbridge Progressive Supper is confirmed (and if you go please don’t fall in a water filled ditch) 

Axbridge Progressive Supper

Diners tuck in at the Axbridge Progressive Supper in 2016

This year’s annual fund raising Axbridge progressive supper will take place on Saturday, November 17. Last year the event attracted scores of couples from the town and nearby and raised £1,000 for the town’s pageant held every ten years.

The Progressive Supper involves a three course meal eaten at three different locations. Participants either provide one course at their home, or travellers who pay to dine and do not need to provide food and drink. Cash is raised by those taking part and also by a raffle with the prizes announced at the end of the evening. The evening begins with everyone drawing lots from a hat to discover where they will be dining meaning the evening is a total surprise to all.

The unexpected nature of the evening has led to a number of hilarious incidents over the years due to the nature of the meal – spread out across the town at various homes. Guests have got lost and ended up in the wrong house while on one occasion an unnamed woman fell in the rhyne (a water filled ditch by Moorland Farm) when looking for a house down on the moors. And for hosts it’s meant an annual spring clean of their homes for fear the guests will be shocked at the state of their loo or kitchen.

Each course is for a set time, at the end of which everyone gets up and scrambles, or staggers as the night wears on, to get to the next course – which could be anywhere in Axbridge.

The event is on Saturday 17 November. See the event’s Facebook site for further updates and information.

Or contact Harry on 07789 864769 or email harryfmottram@gmail.com for more details.

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – EVENT: Extraordinary fund raising event for Penny Brohn UK cancer charity in Axbridge – and it’s all about David Bowie 


On Friday, January 12th at one of the Strawberry Line’s favourite pubs there’s a David Bowie Tribute Night at the Crown Inn, Axbridge.  Dr Love’s Vinyl Revival will be rolling back the years to an era of Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans and Pin Ups in an evening paying tribute to the artist and also to raise cash for a cancer charity based in North Somerset.

There’s a raffle, Bowie cocktails and an auction. The auction will feature Harry the Spiv selling  signed Bowie Album, along with other Bowie era memorabilia including a rare autographed framed Dr Love poster signed by the mysterious man himself. https://www.facebook.com/drlovebowiejan2018/https://www.facebook.com/drlovevinylrevival/ 

All money raised goes to the Penny Brohn UK cancer charity.


STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES: Views of Cheddar Reservoir during 2017 – from dawn to dusk and from drought to downpours 

The giant mirror that is Cheddar Reservoir reflects the vast skies above Somerset creating an ever changing waterscape – not unlike that of the sea. Measure more than two miles around and a mile or more across the man made lake built in the 1930s is a popular place for walkers, joggers and families – as well as sailors and fishermen.

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