When Clive and Rosemary Baker discovered how little people knew about the former trainline through Rolleston, they set their sights on altering the situation. LAURA HAMMOND found out how their work is going.
UNTIL the 1960s, it was possible to travel directly from Rolleston-on-Dove to London. Passengers and goods could also be transported to York, and, more frequently, to Derby and Burton.
Yet 50 years on, many people who live in the village have no idea they live so close to a former major trainline.
That is something which Clive Baker and his wife Rosemary – along with a small band of supporters – are looking to change.
“The railway changed the whole nature of the village and individual people’s lives. People could move from the village into the town, whereas they couldn’t before. In the past, if you wanted to go to Burton, you had to walk or hitch a lift on a farmer’s cart.
“But a lot of people don’t know where it was, or don’t know there was a trainline,” Clive told the Mail.
The issue first became clear to the railway buff several years ago, when he presented a model of the old station at a millennium exhibition. He arrived hoping to collect people’s memories to build on the model, but when he was unable to do that, he just took it home where it gathered dust.
The project was revived in 2007, when Clive brought the model out once again for a school community day.
“People didn’t know what it was,” he said. “A lot of people said they walked their dogs along the Jinny Trail, but didn’t realise what it was. I thought at the time that was a message that it would be useful for people to know, and it went from there.”
Fast-forward seven years, and the once over-grown land at the side of the Jinny Trail has been once again become a visible platform, and work is under way to restore other parts of the station.
Clive, Rosemary and their band of helpers have put in hours and hours of work to get the area to its current state. It is not so long ago that it was almost impossible to walk along the platform; now it is easy to see where the wooden shelter stood, and the outline of two rockeries is clearly visible in the ground.
As time goes on, Clive is hoping it will be possible to expose the other platform and mark the cattle dock and milk dock. He is planning to put in Rolleston Station signs in the style of the orgiginal London Midland Service pointers.
The seeds are soon to be sewn to create a wildflower meadow in the space between the two platforms.
Recently, tree surgeons working nearby donated some logs to the project, and, along with some chippings, these were used to create two ‘National Trust-style’ paths.
“It’s recycling and conservation at its best,” joked Clive.
The work is taking place with a group called The Rolleston Engineering and Transport Society (TREATS).
As well as the practical work which is taking place on the former station, an information board has been created and put at the entrance to the trail on Station Street. Clive is in the process of creating a similar board for the Stretton end of the Jinny Trail, at Bitham Lane.
Stretton Parish Council recently acquired a length of track from Network Rail to put near to the old track. Keen members of the council have also been working to clear the path, and they are hoping to encourage wildflowers.
Clive said Rolleston Parish Council had been very supportive of his ideas for the station. Councillors have frequently said how impressed they are with the work which is taking place along the 350-foot platform.
The pair have grand plans for the station project in the future.
Rosemary said they were hoping to see groups from the nearby John of Rolleston Primary School using the facility to learn about the history of the village.
“We want to see the station as part of village life again,” she said.
The pair, who live in Meadow View, have spent so much time on the project it has now become a lifestyle. But Clive, who grew up close to the old Horninglow train station, described it as ‘a labour of love’.
“I would go to sleep and wake up hearing the sound of the trains and the shunting waggons. If it was a rainy night, the noise on the tracks was spectacular.
“I have a love of trains and a love of history, and I think it is important.
“It also about giving something back. I have been very privileged to lie in Rolleston for 40 years. It’s such a beautiful village, and it’s nice to give something back to the people who live in the village.” he told the Mail.
The next stage of the work is a mass clearing, to make sure work has been done in time for the birds nesting. Anyone wishing to get involved can attend a working party on the first Saturday of every month.