The coming of the railway to Radcliffe
Until 1851 the River Trent was the main means of transport for heavy goods between Nottingham and Radcliffe, and many people were employed in this capacity. In 1881 only one household; the Upton family, were involved with the river traffic; operating the Ferry across the River. However the railway did attract a number of wealthy businessmen to live in the village and the area near the station saw a building boom in the 1870’s.
The Ambergate Railway Company (later amalgamated with The Great Northern Railway) were given the running powers into the Nottingham Midland Station from Grantham, and this line crossed the river at Radcliffe where it joined the Nottingham to Lincoln line at Colwick. The bridge over the river had 3 brick arches and 1 cast iron arch, a viaduct from the bridge to the wharf was built and completed in June 1848.
To celebrate, a large party on the lawn of Radcliffe Lodge was given by the contractors Messrs Greaves, Smart and Adams to thank the workers. Marquees were erected with long tables covered with food and drink. This was provided by Mr George Starkey and Mr Oliver Beckitt. Unfortunately when dinner was still in progress, one of the heaviest storms in memory occurred. Those seated at the tables were soaked by the rain which deluged the feast. The weather improved and festivities continued– glee singers, toasts to the royal family, the Duke of Wellington, the engineer, Mr Sanday (Earl Manvers’ representative) Mr Butler Parr and all the residents of the village. The day was summed up as ‘ A good dinner, good appetites, a good storm, good run and good humoured countenances.’ In 1881 concern was expressed in the Nottingham Journal regarding the state of the wooden viaduct known as Radcliffe Bridge.
The viaduct was at last rebuilt, work commenced in January 1901 and was completed on 5 September 1910.The viaduct and bridge is now a grade II listed structure.
Some rail workers were killed or injured on the railway, and accidents occurred on the line. One of them involving sheep in 1850; the train to Nottingham ran over a flock of sheep owned by Mr Edward Brewster of Radcliffe whilst passing over the river. 4 sheep were killed and a fifth killed by the returning train. In 1902 a fatal accident at the station was recorded in the Nottingham Guardian. A Mr William B Draper, aged 78, from Walnut Grove tried to get off the train but was dragged some distance down the platform. It emerged that Mr Draper had often complained about the ‘great drop’ at Radcliffe station on arrival from Nottingham. In May 1904 the platforms at Radcliffe station were raised to a level which will enable passengers to safely enter and alight from the trains.
People welcomed the railway as travel became easier but was still costly. Radcliffe to Nottingham return tickets cost 10½d and was prohibitive to the working classes. Many visitors travelled to Radcliffe and the Nottingham Journal records that 2000 people came by train to Radcliffe on Whit Monday in 1881. Day-trippers increased the wealth of the village but also the services of the local constabulary as among other attractions in Radcliffe were the public houses. Some cases of drunk and disorderly persons were reported.
At the station there was a ticket office and a small waiting room on the Grantham platform with a large canopy and an ornate valance. An arched iron footbridge enabled passengers to access either side of the station. The railway buildings were designed by the famous Nottingham architect T. C. Hine. The railway did not stop all road transport, some goods required carrier services; coal, builders materials and cattle. (A large goods yard was provided at the station.) In trades directories; William Morley was a road carrier in 1884, in 1877 John and Edward Wright had a “goods removing van” and were carriers until 1912. In 1922 Richard Stevenson was the carrier, operating a daily service to Nottingham.
During the First World War, Gladys Breedon a young woman living on Cropwell Road became a railway porter. Like many other women in the country at the time undertaking occupations normally reserved for men. Mr John Salmon was the station master at the beginning of the war. The Station Master was provided with a house on Lorne Grove.
It was not until the late 1950’s and the increasing popularity of motorcars and road transport that the railway dominance declined. Now in the 21st century there are about 3 trains stopping a day at Radcliffe station.