Gainsborough can benefit hugely when restored rail service starts running

Last week, the Gainsborough Standard published a photograph on the letter page of Central station in all its Edwardian magnificence, complete with WH Smith bookstall, roof and footbridge, writes Barry Coward.

It was a golden age for railways in the town.

Gainsborough Central Station in March 1977. Photo: Philip Hewson

Gainsborough Central Station in March 1977. Photo: Philip Hewson

Upstairs, the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company board met, due to Gainsborough Central was an important station on the main line connecting Manchester with Grimsby.

Only after World War One were the railways to face serious competition from road haulage and bus operators, who set up business with war surplus vehicles.

Slow decline was inevitable. By March 1977 the station buildings were in a poor state and the demolition contractors moved in, just after Philip Hewson had taken the photo accompanying this column.

The footbridge, minus corrugated iron roof, survived until 2016 when it was replaced by the present bridge.

Passenger trains were reduced to a limited Saturday only service in 1993.

The line survived because of coal trains, but they too have now almost disappeared.

However in 2017 signals and point motors were replaced in anticipation of more trains using the station.

Sadly,the proposed new service became a casualty of the May 2018 timetable debacle.

When dealing with railways patience is most certainly a virtue.

Finally, from May 20, a regular passenger train service will be restored.

Trains will operate hourly between Gainsborough Central and Sheffield, Monday to Saturday, calling at all stations including Retford and Worksop.

Not even in the days when the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway board met in Central Station was there such a frequent service of passenger trains.

Of course, since those times Gainsborough has expanded and continues to grow.

The new service will undoubtedly add to the attractiveness of Gainsborough as a place to live, work and visit.

Gainsborough residents will have an opportunity to ask me questions about railways next week at the annual Gainsborough Town Meeting.

Hosted by Gainsborough Town Council in the Uphill Community Centre on Riseholme Road, the meeting will take place next Wednesday, March 20, starting at 6pm.

Other speakers will cover local policing, Mayflower 400 and Gainsborough Trinity Foundation.

Do come and join us.