Littleton and Badsey Station (Revisited)

Level Crossing

Michael J. Barnard drew this sketch of the level crossing at Blackminster in 1979. He also wrote the following ....

The stretch of line where schoolboy train-spotters took down steam locomotive class numbers and names, the crossing where produce from the surrounding villages poured over every week day throughout the year, and the passengers walked across to catch the milk-run train to work, has recently passed into the era of automation.

Looking rather like something from "Star Wars," the automatic barriers at Blackminster are already a landmark, visible above the rooftops and hedgerows, giving the schoolboy railway enthusiast that few seconds of stop-watch timing to arrive at the crossing in time to view the powerful diesel-electric locomotives of today. But there is a tinge of sadness in this change-over from the manual to the automatic. I, for one, shall miss the shadowy figure in the signal box turning the huge gate operating wheel, or pulling and pushing the row of giant levers—the box seeming to vibrate as they slotted into position.

On a fine day the signalman's cheery wave and friendly comments as he leant on the window-sill or stood at the top of the steps will be missed too. MJB

In 1964 Flanders and Swann immortalised Littleton and Badsey Station in their song Slow Train

Michael Flanders and Donald Swann Sorry, but you will not be able to play the sound clip.

Press the Play key to hear the line in the song 'Slow Train' by Flanders and Swann.

Michael Flanders and Donald Swann wrote this song at a time when Beeching was axing scores of small railway stations across the country. The lyrics (see below) tell a story of a time past. You will notice that there is no 'and' between Littleton and Badsey this was done so that the line scanned correctly (but see Postscript below).


By Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

Miller’s Dale for Tideswell, Kirkby Muxloe,
Mow Cop and Scholar Green

No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Moretehoe
On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road
No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street
We won’t be meeting again
On the slow train.
I’ll travel no more from Littleton Badsey to Openshaw
At Long Stanton I’ll stand well clear of the doors no more
No whitewashed pebbles, no Up and no Down
From Formby Four Crosses to Dunstable Town.
I won’t be going again
On the slow train.
On the Main Line and the Goods Siding
The grass grows high
At Dog Dyke, Tumby Woodside
And Trouble House Halt.
The Sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate.
No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay.
No one departs, no one arrives
From Selby to Goole, from St Erth to St Ives.
They’ve all passed out of our lives
On the slow train
On the slow train.
Cockermouth for Buttermere
On the slow train
Armley Moor Arram … Pye Hill and Somercotes
On the slow train
Windmill End.


In January 2003 Will Dallimore had an email message from Leon Berger who is the archivist of the estate of Donald Swann. He remarked on our supposition as to why Littleton and Badsey Station had had its 'and' missing in the song. He said that Michael Flanders had taken the names of the stations from an article in the Guardian, and it was here that it had referred to the station as Littleton Badsey. We assumed that the 'and' had been omitted for musical reasons, when all along Michael Flanders had never put it in the song because he didn't know it existed.  

See also the History of Littleton and Badsey Station.

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Updated 21 January 2003