Brampton Fell Signalman - George Claxton Gill

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Brampton Fell Signalman - George Claxton Gill

George Claxton Gill was born the youngest of a family of two brothers and four sisters, he was brought up in Camblesforth, near Selby, North Yorkshire. His first employment was with the Hull and Barnsley in 1919 at the age of 16. He kept his letter of appointment from R Y Vickers, Office of Superintendent of the Line dated 6-11-19, which states:-

"With reference to your application for employment in this Company's service. I have to inform you that you are appointed as Lamplad at our Wrangbrook Junction. Your wage will be 12/- per week plus 16/6 per week war wage and you must report yourself to the Upton Station Master on Monday November 10th. You will travel to Upton by the 8-11 a.m. train from Carlton on the above named date and I enclose you a single journey pass for this purpose."

George moved on with the HBR to duties in Hull, became a signalman and was allocated to the Ouse Bridge signalbox. His good friend, Stan Barnard, was signalman at Drax Abbey signalbox which was the next box along the HBR towards Drax village. Stan and George's families remain friends.

The second world war loomed and George moved to Cumberland (now Cumbria) with his wife Lilian in 1941. He was a signalman predominantly at Brampton Fell signalbox until 1954. He was dedicated railwayman, being an NUM member for over 30 years with a button hole badge to prove it. During his time at the Fell he was a keen first aider earning a St Johns Ambulance Association medal for 3 successful examinations in 1943 and 11(1944 to 1954) bars for annual successful re-examinations. He, Lilian and son William (Bill) lived at Brampton Junction in the end (No.4) of a terrace of Station Cottages close to Brampton Junction Station. Next door (No. 3 Station Cottages) lived Mr & Mrs Kirkpatrick who were extremely good friends to George & Lilian.

2M72 the Newcastle to Carlisle, with tail van, departing from Brampton Junction on 17th June 1967 - Station Cottages on extreme right. These had been demolished by 1969

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D8594 passing Brampton Junction with 4Z70 1325 Durran Hill to Low Fell Driver Training Special on 28th September 1967. Station Cottages viewed from the east.

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At the time of nationalisation in 1948 the Carlisle to Newcastle line of the LNER became part of British Railways Eastern Region and new liveries and associated badges were issued. These shiny new badges were very desirable to small boys and Mr Kirkpatrick managed to obtain one for Georges small son which the family still has to this day.

The Junction was quite a little railway community in itself as Mr Kirkpatrick was a porter on the station and his daughter Freda was an announcer on Carlisle Station. The Station Master at this time was Mr J Rowe who lived in the Station Master's House at the side of the platform.

During the war a German POW was billeted in the area. Tony Neumeier was taken prisoner by the Americans, when questioned about what he did in Germany before he was called up, he said that he worked on his father’s farm so he was sent to work at Brampton Fell farm. Tony worked for the farmer, Jack Foster, and lived in the farmhouse with the family. After a few years he got work as platelayer on the railway working on the LNER Carlisle to Newcastle line and eventually became a “ganger” with the British Railways. Whilst working on the railway he met Mr Kirkpatrick (known to everyone as Pat) daughter Freda. Tony married Freda and they lived together in a cottage locally.

The Junction only had a Station Master's House and four railway cottages, there were no shops or other facilities. George's cycle journey from the Junction to Brampton Fell cabin took him past Brampton Fell farm from where the family obtained their fresh milk in a tin milk can. All the cottages had gardens, No.4 adjoining the railway sidings, which were used for growing vegetables and George also kept poultry on a small piece of land (loaned by Jack Foster) next to a nearby beck.

No.4 Station Cottages garden adjacent to sidings in 1948 - small boy is George's son Bill

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Along the line from the sidings towards Newcastle was Brampton Junction Signalbox (circa 1945)

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D181 passing Brampton Junction with 7M53 0655 Tyne Yard to Carlisle Kingmoor on 17 June 1967 pictured from No.4 cottage garden. Brampton Junction Signalbox closed many years earlier.

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Dominoes were a popular pastime played by George, Pat, Tony and others in the Station buildings in off duty periods. The disused branch line from the Junction (the Dandy) to Brampton Town was a popular walk for adults, children and dogs as was the nearby Talkin Tarn. The sidings often had wagons of coal for distribution to local coal merchants but there were often spillages and these were "rescued" by the cottages for their fires.

Brampton town centre 1950

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Brampton Fell cabin is on the B6143 Brampton to Castle Carrock road. It is but a short distance along the road to the beautiful Talkin Tarn and to Brampton golf course which has greens adjacent to the railway line. George's son, Bill, would often spend time at weekends at the cabin collecting stray golf balls, hand winding the crossing gates (no electric motors then) and helping to polish frame levers for which there was always a handy cotton waste oily rag to hand.

George (in cabin window) circa 1950

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27th May 1967 Brampton Fell Signalbox mimic, telegraph and lever frame. Levers still nicely polished.

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92110 passing Brampton Fell with 6Z55 the 1430 Longtown to Felixstowe Ammunition Train on 25th September 1967 - Brampton Golf Course on left

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George & Lilian moved back to Selby in 1954 where they bought a house with some land, here they had fruit trees, grew vegetables and raised poultry. He never owned a car and always cycled to work continuing as a signalman on the Transpennine route at initially Barlby cabin (located in the BOCM complex) and then at Thorpe Gates until his retirement in 1968.

George (holding clock in left hand) at his 45 year's service presentation in 1964

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