Cherished memories

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Tom and Brenda Crabbe (right) are joined by station chairman Jon Jenkins and family and friends as they cut the ribbon on their new bench.
Tom and Brenda Crabbe (right) are joined by station chairman Jon Jenkins and family and friends as they cut the ribbon on their new bench.

Tom and Brenda Crabbe from Motcombe were joined by family and friends as they unveiled a special family seat at Shillingstone Station.
The seat takes pride of place under the large green Shillingstone sign on the Down platform, with a dedication plaque that reads: “Memories of Shillingstone Station from the ’40s and ’50s, from The Crabbe Family”.
An official ribbon cutting took place, along with some celebratory tea and cake – with the seat presented to the station’s chairman, Jon Jenkins, who said it was a great pleasure to have such a long-running family connection with the station. It’s the perfect spot to sit and look across to the station and its cafe and shop – the comings and goings along the opposite platform, the signal box, and if you’re lucky, an engine moving up and down the line.

Tom’s parents, Lily and William Crabbe, whose lives were entwined with Shillingstone station.
Tom’s parents, Lily and William Crabbe, whose lives were entwined with Shillingstone station.

The Crabbe family have a long connection with the station, as Tom’s mother, Lily Reading, when she was 18, travelled from Southam near Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, to work for the Ismay family at Iwerne House, which is now part of Clayesmore School.
Lily, who was in service, arrived by train to Shillingstone from Lord Willoughby de Broke’s Warwickshire estate, where she was a parlour maid and was met from the station by a horse and trap. She continued as a parlour maid with the Ismays, but with a passion for cooking, worked her way up to become Head Cook. “She was a great pastry cook too and made wonderful scones and steak and mushroom pies,” says Tom.
“In those days, they were allowed out three times a week, and the Housekeeper, Mrs Fanshaw, used to wait at the door at 10pm with a cane, and you’d get it on the behind if you were late!”
During her time with the Ismays, Lily often travelled with the family when they holidayed – whether it be to St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, to Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, or up to Scotland. This continued when Lily met milk-delivery boy William Crabbe, who worked on Mr Holloway’s Iwerne farm. The couple married in 1935 and when Tom arrived in 1938, they too went on holidays from the station.
“We have a lot of memories of Mum and her working life and her family, through the station,” says Tom. “We’d always travel to and from, going on holidays from Shillingstone, always, so we are delighted to give a seat to the station in memory of those happy times.”

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