Recognition for town’s role in saving railways

Bill Trinder opens Talyllyn Railway NNL-150324-164142001
Bill Trinder opens Talyllyn Railway NNL-150324-164142001

A small shop in Banbury High Street is to finally get the recognition it deserves as the birthplace of railway 

That fairly big claim to fame about what has grown into a worldwide phenomenon can be traced back to local businessman Bill Trinder, who once ran his radio and gramophone record shop from 84 High Street .

And on Saturday, his daughter, Cynthia Turner, will help the Banbury Civic Society and Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to mark the spot where it all began.

The defining moment in the bid to save the narrow-gauge Talyllyn Railway was when Bill’s friend Tom Rolt walked into 84 High Street and showed him a copy of the bill to nationalise the UK’s railways in the winter of 1947/8.

The two men were gripped by the news and the fact that the Talyllyn Railway in Wales was to fall outside the net of state control.

Civic society chairman Rob Kinchin-Smith said: “During discussions in Bill’s flat above the shop, Trinder and Rolt resolved not only save the Talyllyn Railway, but to run it using volunteers.

“Following the inaugural meeting of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society in 1950, Bill Trinder was appointed its first chairman.

“Following the success of Talyllyn – the Talyllyn Railway turns 150 years old this year and remains a leading example of its kind – there are now countless heritage railways around the world, most of them wholly or substantially staffed and run by volunteers, following the model pioneered by Trinder and Rolt.

“Every one of them can trace its origin to Trinder and Rolt’s decision to save the Talyllyn, and thus to 84 High Street, Banbury.”

The civic society and the preservation society have jointly commissioned the plaque and with the full support of the building’s owner it will be situated just above the shop – now occupied by The Men’s Room hairdressers.

This weekend was chosen for the ceremony because the two pioneers made their first visit to the Talyllyn in the last weekend in March, 1948.

l Another early supporter of the railway was Rev W Awdry who introduced a rather similar line to his famous Thomas the Tank Engine series of books, featuring Skarloey, Rheneas and other little engines which all had twins on the Talyllyn.