It may come as a surprise to learn that the first Railway Station in Newark was the one we know today as Newark Castle, on the line between Nottingham and Lincoln. It will come, as more of a surprise to learn that originally there was a station of sorts at Winthorpe!The Midland Counties Railway planned the line in 1846, though by the time it was completed the company had amalgamated with others to form the Midland Railway (MR). The line between Nottingham and Lincoln was very hastily constructed, principally to "stake a claim" to the area and to fend off rival concerns, and initially was operated on a very haphazard basis. In fact there is no authorisation recorded in the Board minutes for the construction of a station at Winthorpe. Nevertheless it was included in "Bradshaw" for January 1847 (but not subsequently). Bradshaw was of course the famous Victorian independent timetable, which only ceased publication late in British Railways days.
Judging by what is known to have happened at Bleasby, people simply started flagging down the trains, or persuaded the guard to "drop them off."
The numbers must have grown because arrangements were made at the Lincoln Station (subsequently known as Lincoln St. Marks) to accommodate the Winthorpe traffic. It will be appreciated that at that early date the Edmondson card ticket, used generally by railways before the computer age, had not been invented. Following stagecoach practice tickets were written by hand using the counterfoils bound in a ledger. A typical such page from the Bolton & Leigh Railway in the 1840's is in my collection, and clearly involved a great deal of "filling in" especially as it was usual to write in the names of the passengers both in the ledger and on the ticket.
In order to keep the ledgers appropriately organised, the Midland Railway fitted out sets of drawers to hold them. These included the drawer for ledgers for tickets to "Winthorpe Newark Fiskerton" This drawer remained in existence until St. Marks was modernised in the 1960's, when the painted, varnished and lettered front was salvaged, eventually finding its way by an auction into my collection.
In researching the history of Winthorpe Station I was delighted to discover that at least three paper tickets survive. The National Railway Museum at York holds Second Class Ticket No. 155 from Newark to Winthorpe, whilst the "Roy F. Burrows Midland Collection Trust" holds a Third Class Ticket for the same journey. Its serial number is illegible but may be No. 145. A further copy is in private hands. Second Class was pink and Third Class Green. Each is 5.6 cm x 3.0 cm. in size.
The other Station in Newark is of course Northgate opened by the Great Northern in 1852. The GNR amalgamated with others to form the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1923. Strangely enough my collection does include a ticket issued by them to Winthorpe. Unfortunately it was to Winthorpe, Lincolnshire. Even that village did not have a railway station, and this ticket used a connecting Lincolnshire Road Car bus to complete the connection via Skegness to Burton. Given the destination, it is to be doubted whether this was a Sunday School outing.
So where was Winthorpe station? The probable intended location was Holme Lane at the level crossing. No platform or passenger buildings were ever sanctioned and as stated earlier, the usual practice then was simply to stop at a convenient point and let passengers scramble in and out! There is a steel engraving of an accident there on 22nd October 1875. In fact there were two interlinked accidents. Due to floods a train was derailed near Averham, a bridge having been washed away. The driver and fireman set off on foot to get help. However when the train did not arrive at Nottingham the Stationmaster there must have telegraphed to Lincoln because a breakdown train was sent westwards from Lincoln at 10.00pm. It consisted of a tender engine, truck and a carriage with 12 men. Near "the gatehouse at Holme Lane, Winthorpe" said a contemporary report, the waters had also broken through and had washed out the ballast. The gatehouse keeper displayed a red light but the driver did not see this and his engine sank several feet into the flood debris before standing on end. The driver was knocked out and the gangers in the carriage were cut and bruised. All were taken to the gatehouse whilst medical help was sought. A signal box was later erected here to control the crossing and remained in service until 1914.
The accident does not seem to have deterred travellers as the oldest Midland Railway ticket in my collection is for an excursion from Newark to Nottingham dated 2nd October 1876.
The actual dimensions of the front of the ticket drawer are 23ins x 2.8ins. The top edge is incised to show where Ledgers 1, 2, 3 and 4 were to be placed. These presumably were for four classes of travel, of which 4th Class probably meant an Open Carriage with no roof.
The ticket illustrations are from digital photo scans of xerox copies of the originals. These latter are very flimsy and faded, and the residual colour has been photo enhanced to represent its original style.
The National Railway Museum and the Trustees of the Roy F. Burrows Midland Collection have both given permission for the tickets in their archives to be reproduced, and their kindness is hereby gratefully acknowledged.
Malcolm Shelmerdine. January 2006.