Station Master Tate and George the Porter tend to the beds
Photo courtesy of Michael Hammond and family
In 1923 the MR became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), one of the ‘Big Four’ Railway Companies. On 19th April 1937 the LMS renamed the station Chilwell, but Council opposition and a petition by 235 residents resulted in a quick return to Attenborough on 27th September. On nationalisation in 1948 the station became part of the London Midland Region of British Railways and then went back into private hands upon privatisation of British Railways in 1997. Network Rail owns the station and currently (2019), a passenger train operator manages and operates most services through the station. Originally trains stopped at Attenborough Gate, a small halt with level crossing, and in 1864 its larger replacement was built on its present site.
At its height, on Platform 1 there were: Parcels Office; Station Master’s Office; Gents Toilet; Booking Hall and Office; Goods Office dealing with Beeston, Attenborough and Chilwell Depot goods; General Waiting Room; Ladies Waiting Room with Toilet; Porter’s Room with a coke-fired central heating stove and cooker; and finally, a storage shed. Platform 2 had a sturdy brick and timber shelter for passengers and there were attractive gardens on both platforms. An excellent passenger experience!
Until the late 1960s the station staff, who mostly worked shifts, consisted of a stationmaster, 3 porters, 3 signalmen, 2 Booking Clerks and about 8 goods clerks. The Porters opened the station, sold and collected tickets off-peak, cleaned the station and ensured all train doors were closed before departure. During the floods of 1910 one of the staff had time to catch, from the flooded platform, a fine carp which once hung in the church. Where is it now?
During World War I the station was busy with thousands of workers heading for the Shell Filling Factory at Chilwell – platforms were lengthened and a footbridge provided. The shells and mines from the factory were taken direct to the frontline. Trains would leave the works on a branch line west of the station direct to Richborough, Newhaven, or Southampton ports where fifteen laden rail trucks were shunted in two rows onto ferries bound for Dunkirk, Calais, Dieppe or Cherbourg, then straight on via the French railway to the front – Attenborough International!
During World War II the station was busy with service personnel being trained and stationed at Chetwynd Barracks on the old factory site.
By the 1970s the buildings and gardens had been demolished and the signal box closed in the mid-80s. The original footbridge was replaced in 2007 although the supporting blue brick towers were retained and are now used for storage by railway staff and our station adopters, the Attenborough Elderflowers.