This week we have added 96,930 new pages to The Archive. We are delighted to welcome a brand new Somerset title to our collection this week – the Cheddar Valley Gazette. We also have extensive updates to five of our London titles, and updates to the Reading Evening Post and the Amersham Advertiser.
The village of Cheddar in Somerset is famous for an array of reasons, primarily because of the cheese that is named for it, and also because it lends its name to the oldest intact skeleton to be found in the United Kingdom, the Cheddar Man, whose 9,000-year-old remains were found in the Cheddar Gorge.
The Cheddar Valley Gazette was founded in 1954, and as such, it chronicles a time of great change in the area. Not only did the village of Cheddar produce cheese, it was also the producer of strawberries, and its local railway branch, the Cheddar Valley Line, provided a fast link from Somerset farmers to the markets of Birmingham and London. However, in 1963 British Rail closed the Cheddar Valley Line, which was fondly known as the Strawberry Line.
In June 1962 the Cheddar Valley Gazette reports that talks are being held on ‘the future of the Cheddar Valley Line.’ Just over a year later, the railway was closed, despite protests from local people. An article in 1964 lays out the problems faced by local farmers thanks to the closure of the line:
The railway line to Yatton, is a vitally important link in the chain of produce distribution for the growers…To try and transport hundreds of tons of fruit at the start of the holiday rush across A38 and the Weston road and through the narrow streets of Axbridge and Yatton is considered a retrograde step from everyone’s point of view.
British Rail, however, were unmoved, and were of the attitude that the ‘line is finished.’ The closure of this line, not only a blow to the economy of the area, epitomised how times were changing, and highlighted a nostalgia for the past. Indeed, a 1963 article entitled ‘The Death of a Railway’ remembers how the ‘bells, flags and [a] band greeted the first Cheddar Valley train,’ and local people decorated their houses to welcome the railway traffic.
Elsewhere in the country, local branch lines were being closed. Some, however, like the Bluebell Railway in Sussex, were saved by preservation societies, and are now ran largely by volunteers. Indeed, Cheddar locals wished to follow the example set out by the Bluebell Railway, which reopened its line between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead in 1960: ‘The sight of the a steam engine complete with coaches in the livery of the Great Western Railway might surely be a sight to stir the heart of anyone, it is thought.’
However, the Cheddar Valley Line was not saved nor reopened; and a coffin was placed on the last passenger train to signify the death of the line.
|Cheddar Valley Gazette||1957-1980|
This week we have updated seven of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.
|Reading Evening Post||1999|
|Kingston Informer||1991-1992, 1995, 1997|
|Hayes & Harlington Gazette||1995-1996|
|Amersham Advertiser||1986, 1993-1995, 1997|
|Staines & Ashford News||1993-1995, 1997|
|Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald||1874, 1879, 1889, 1891, 1899-1912|