For our first meeting of the season, Jeremy Nicholls gave us a talk about Audlem's railway station which was on the Nantwich – Market Drayton – Wellington line. The arrival of the first train in Market Drayton was followed by a parade through the town led by a military band, followed by a dinner for over 1500 townspeople. This was the sort of celebration normally held to mark a coronation or a successful military campaign.
Although there's no evidence of such a grand event being held in Audlem, the railway was transformational for villagers' lives, which was very much the theme of the talk.
Illustrating his talk with original documents dating from the 1860s and 1870s, Jeremy showed the impact of the railway, particularly on the farming community, which now had easy access to feedstuffs, limestone and fertiliser and could buy from and sell animals to distant markets. A creamery was established next to the station which forwarded its milk daily to Birmingham Dairies.
Thanks to the new railway telegraph, businesses, solicitors and others could send and receive messages in hours, not the days of the former stagecoach mail. The railway brought skilled, well-paid and permanent employment to the village. People could also now travel to places like Crewe, Manchester and Liverpool for work and day trips to the seaside and holidays became possible. Daily newspapers arrived by the early train and could be delivered before breakfast. In short, Audlem was connected to the wider world.
A most informative talk, thoroughly enjoyed by a large audience.