Harston was a busy station with lots of passenger traffic. In the main, trains were the sole means of travel and first class passengers were especially catered for. Some remember when the Sir Charles Walston of Newton Hall went to London with all his staff for the London season. Mrs Navit would go to the booking hall and collect and pay for all his tickets, after his butler had previously been and given the number of first and third class tickets he would require.
The station was not only used by Harston parishioners as people came from Newton, Thriplow and Haslingfield to travel to Cambridge and elsewhere. On Saturdays there was a lot of passenger traffic. On this day a market ticket was issued at a cost of 6d return. Ordinary day fare was 10 pence return with a single for 6d. On one Saturday, Mr Seaman remarked that 92 market tickets were issued.On Sunday evenings the 8.10pm train took with it the Harston maids who were in domestic service in Cambridge.
On bank holidays and boxing days the theatre train left Harston at 8.10am for King’s Cross conveying parties to the Theatre in London to D’Oyly Carte operas Gilbert & Sullivan etc. 4s 11d return and the return was at midnight from Kings Cross arriving home around 2am. On May 30 1868 there was a railway advert for a cheap day trip to Crystal Palace, London on Whit Tuesday, 9s6d first class; 5s2d second (’cov’) class from Harston.The WI also had an annual outing, once by special from Harston to Skegness.
1879 Oct 3 Royston Crow (see attachment below) and 1881 6 Aug Cambridge Independent Press adverts included the information: Trains stop at Harston ‘when necessary to set down Hunting Gentlemen’.
Goods traffic going out
In the fruit season much fruit was sent from Harston and surrounding villages especially from Haslingfield. Most of it went to Covent Garden, the Manchester area or the Leeds area. Frank Swan’s daughter Peggy Clarke (& husband Vic) used to take lots of boxes of greengages to Harston Station to go on the Sunday Special – either to Dundee or to London.
Milk was brought in from the surrounding villages in churns for transportation to London.
The Hays grew sugar beet and Bill Hays remembered it being loaded onto goods trains at Harston station in the 1950s to be taken to Ely.
Wagons of grain, straw and hay were transported from the farms for transport mainly to London. During the week two wagons were carting flour from the mill owned by T H Smith & Son from early morning until late afternoon. The station also supplied, on hire, sacks to farmers for their grain crops. This was very big business during the threshing periods and much appreciated by the farmers. When full these sacks weighed : Wheat 18 stone; beans 19 stone; barley 16 stone; oats 12 stone. This sort of weight was manhandled onto wagons without any lifting appliances. At this time hay and straw was commandeered by the military for transport to France for mules and horses at the war zones. Horses were also carried in special horse boxes. Sheep were loaded at various times of the year in special cattle wagons to London. The cattle ramp was on the opposite side of the rails from the Goods shed and can be seen in the back of the photo.
Goods coming in
Practically all the coal that was used in the village was carted from the station. Thompsons in Station Road became coal merchants who delivered to the whole village, buying in coal in summer when it was cheap. Coal was stored at the Station but Thompsons had a coal yard opposite the Pemberton Arms with their Trigg farm complex. This is no longer there.
In the 1920-30s, Len Cambridge (from Hauxton?), the fish-monger would go with his horse-drawn dray, to collect fish daily from Harston Station to which it had been brought from the overnight train from the coast. By 8.15 it was on sale.