Shining a light on the past

Norman Scrimshaw
Norman Scrimshaw

A piece of local history came to light at the town’s museum with the installation of an original gas lamp post from Daventry railway station.

Built in 1888 as an extension from Weedon Bec to Leamington Spa, the station was demolished in December 1963 and the Daventry bypass built in its place.

But in 1969 a small part of that lost past was preserved when Norman Scrimshaw moved to Woodford Halse to work at Ford’s Daventry site as a maintenance manager and acquired one of the station’s lights.

The sprightly 90 year old, who lives in Gable Close, said: “I got it in 1969, I bought it from Sam Dolby for ten quid. He was a manager at the gas station.”

Mr Scrimshaw installed the lamp post at the end of his driveway and later moved it to his garden.

When he moved away, Mr Scrimshaw left the lamp post behind.

He said: “The chap who took over the house didn’t want it anymore. So I asked Brian Nelson if he would give it to the museum.”

Mr Nelson, a friend of Mr Scrimshaw, brought the lamp post to museum curator Roderic Viveash, who decided it should be restored.

Mr Viveash said: “I suspect they made thousands of them, but we don’t want too many!”

He added: “It must have taken me about two months to restore it. I had to remove two layers of flaking paint and rust.”

Mr Viveash repainted the lamp post in cream and red, the historic colours of the Midlands rail line.

The lamp, which still retains its original glass, was then installed free of charge at the museum in New Street by local building firm MJ Parratt and Son.

The gas lamp was originally placed on the footbridge at the station. But because there is no maker’s mark, the identity of the original manufacturers remains a mystery.

Mr Viveash said:“It’s exciting to have this piece of Daventry history for people who come to the museum. You can’t replace that.”

It is hoped the find will encourage more interest in Daventry’s railway: “People like seeing the model of the old station. It is popular with people who come to the museum, and some of the young ones don’t even know we had a station in the town.”

Mr Nelson added: “It is a bit of Daventry history. It would have been tragic if it had been left to rust.”