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Lamp Huts & Lock-Ups

A post about unsung heroes.

The small sheds featured below bring back vivid memories, from 35 years ago, of cross-country running along the Cromford Canal and up the steep Sheep Pasture incline of the Cromford & High Peak Railway.

At my school if you weren’t a rugby player (and I really wasn’t!) you were banished to endless cross-country runs to free up the PE teachers to focus on the rugby squad. As a result I spent many a Wintry afternoon sheltering from horizontal freezing rain and whiling away the hours in abandoned corrugated iron huts like these!

Corrugated iron was much favoured by railway companies, it was strong, relatively light, easily transportable and, in ‘kit’ form, could be pretty much delivered anywhere the rails went, and erected on site with the minimum of tools.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that many railway companies, in a drive for cost-cutting and a strong corporate identity, tended to mass produce standard-sized sheds eg. 6’x9′, 9’x12′ etc. They were manufactured in their thousands; without doubt if you live close to a railway track you’ll know of a lamp hut, gangers hut, permanent way hut, lock-up etc. close by?

In some ways these small huts were a victim of there success, (like BCN day boats such as our Eileen) their ubiquity meant that for a long while hardly anyone gave them a second thought and they were left to rot where they stood, once their original function ended.

Luckily a number were sold on, as garden or agricultural sheds or, as in the examples below, on preserved railway lines across the country.

The fact such humble buildings have survived is down to individual generosity, selfless volunteers and endless enthusiasm which sees these battered, basic buildings transformed and retained for another generation…

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A standard GWR design lamp hut 9′ x 6′ hut manufactured by Samuel Taylor and Co.
The frame of this hut was recovered from Frome Station Goods Yard on 21st January 1979 and the reconditioned hut can now be found at Didcot Railway Centre, where enthusiasts are recreating a GWR station and environment in all its glory.
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This building is an example of the once common GWR Standard Lock-Up hut. This 21′ x 9′ example was originally in use as the Parcels Store at Winscombe Station on the Cheddar Valley Line which ran from Witham to Yatton. Originally it was fitted with central double doors at the front (opening onto the platform) and at the rear (opening into the goods yard). The former pair have been replaced, by the GWS, with a window.
The goods yard closed on 10th June 1963 and the line closed to passengers from 7th September that year. The line closed to all traffic on 1st October 1964 and the main station building was demolished around 1973.
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Small and perhaps not very pretty – nevertheless, lamp huts were a vital feature of the steam-age railway’s lineside furniture. Many thousands of similar huts were built, this one became surplus at Ascott-under-Wychwood station on the North Cotswold line, when the line was re-doubled, and was then saved for preservation (Photos: Bill Britton)
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At here it is, preserved at the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway at Broadway Station.
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A naked hut! The red oxide frame is undergoing restoration and provides a fascinating glimpse of the simple, rugged construction of the basic hut, a framework of bolt-together angle iron.
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On the Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway another lamp hut measuring 8 x 6 feet built in Birmingham for the Midland Railway this time. The hut by a ganger based at Ashchurch, who moved it to his railway cottage in Newtown, Tewkesbury. The hut has been placed close to the ex- Midland Railway California Crossing box and will once again be used as a workshop, already having a workbench and electric power points.
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The hut in position. Luckily there was space for a location close to the signalbox but without effecting the line of site of the signalman. The signalbox was originally at Gloucester just south of the former Midland railway station and was situated at the near the junction of the branch line into the docks.
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In this series of photos volunteers from the Gloucestershire & Worcestershire Railway are out-and-about rescuing another fine specimen of a GWR Lamp Hut from an orchard in Bredon.
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Away it goes on the back of a lorry,heading for Broadway Station on the G&WR.
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Making space for the new Lamp Hut
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The Lamp Hut is eased into position between its twin from Long Marston, and a portaloo!
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And there it is, ready for some TLC. Snap!
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The twin gets a facelift too…
6 comments
  1. Rich moore

    Hi Nick,
    Very nice article about lamp huts – I’m thinking of building one – do you have any contacts who have done this before?
    Cheers,
    Rich.

    1. Nick Holt

      I wish I did, it’d be great to point you in the right direction, but I’m afraid I don’t know of any… still, happy hunting!

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