Banbury plaque commemorates birth of railway preservation

Bill Trinder’s daughter, Cynthia Turner, reads the plaque she had just unveiled on the site of her father’s radio shop in the High Street, Banbury.

Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society and Banbury Civic Society have teamed up to commemorate the birth of railway preservation, which had its roots in a small radio and gramophone shop at 84, High Street, Banbury, owned by local businessman Bill Trinder.


It was here that well-known author, Tom Rolt and Bill Trinder met regularly for discussions. Rolt was then involved in the establishment of the Inland Waterways Association, which became responsible in many ways for the regeneration of Britain’s canal system.


However, their discussions included the fate of a small narrow gauge railway in Wales, the Talyllyn. Rolt had discovered this line during the war and when, in 1948, he noted it was not going to be part of the upcoming nationalisation of Britain’s railways, he became concerned about its future.


As a result of these discussions Trinder, Rolt and another friend, Jim Russell, travelled to Wale to visit the railway at the end of March, 1948 and resolved to try to save the line. After more discussions and correspondence a meeting was held at the Imperial Hotel in Birmingham in October, 1950, which led to the establishment of Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society.


Trinder was appointed the society’s first chairman and Rolt became manager of the railway during its first two seasons as the world’s first preserved railway in 1951 and 1952. Rolt recorded his experiences in his book Railway Adventure.


Following the success of Talyllyn, there are now countless heritage railways around the world. Many of these are wholly or substantially staffed and run by volunteers, following the model pioneered by Trinder and Rolt.


To commemorate the partnership between Trinder and Rolt, The Banbury Civic Society and Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society jointly commissioned a commemorative plaque to be mounted on the site of the old shop. It was unveiled at 84, High Street, now occupied by The Men’s Room hairdressers, on Saturday by Trinder’s daughter, Mrs Cynthia Turner.


Also present was Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society’s president, David Mitchell, who spoke about Trinder’s involvement with the Liberal Party and the Methodist church, which formed a key link in discussions with the railway’s owner, Sir Henry Haydn Jones and helped pave the way for the railway to be saved.


Rob Kinchin-Smith, Banbury Civic Society’s chairman, talked of the importance of marking an event that has benefited thousands of people across the globe who have been able to ride on a preserved railway.


A spokesperson for the railway said: ‘”As we celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Talyllyn Railway in 1865, it is appropriate to remember those events that led to it becoming the world’s first preserved railway. From the conversations held at Bill Trinder’s shop sprung a movement that now can be said to be truly global.


“Without the efforts of Bill Trinder, Tom Rolt and Jim Russell, the Talyllyn would not have been saved for thousands of people to enjoy. Of course, heritage railways also generate hundreds of millions of pounds for local economies and attract tourists from across the world. We are very grateful to Banbury Civic Society that they have chosen to honour this significant event.”