Reginald Arkinstall

Bridge 238 across Aberford Road showing the entrance to Bentley’s brewery.

Reginald Arkinstall was appointed station master at Woodlesford after the Midland Railway was absorbed into the London Midland and Scottish, one of the so-called “Big Four” railway companies created in 1923 after legislation in parliament.

He was born in 1888 at Chorlton near Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire where both his father and grandfather were tailors.

Reginald Arkinstall on the platform at Woodlesford.

Railway employment records indicate he started his career in about 1906 as a junior parcels porter at Whitmore in Staffordshire on the London and North Western Railway. From there he moved to Stafford where he had become a ticket inspector by 1910. Within a year he was working at the busy station at Crewe, still as a ticket inspector, and lodging in the house of a cab proprietor close to the station with another ticket collector and a printing compositor.

In October 1911 he was promoted to be station master at Dunham Massey near Altrincham, moving from there to Sutton Weaver near Runcorn in 1914. A couple of years later he was appointed to Broxton on the line between Crewe and Chester. 

In 1912 Reg Arkinstall married Sarah Mabel Hodson in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Their first daughter, Vera Elizabeth, was born at Dunham Massey in 1913. Constance Mary came along at Sutton Weaver in 1914, followed by Winifred in 1917 and Doris Joan in 1919, both at Broxton. By the time of the census in June 9121 Reginald had moved to run the station at Queensferry on the North Wales coast line and he and his family were living at 72 Station Road. The family relocated to Woodlesford in December 1924, staying for about five years. A fifth daughter, Barbara, was born in the Woodlesford station house in 1925. 

In about 1930 Reg went back to L. N. W. R. territory on the other side of the Pennines and was station master at Longsight in central Manchester, then Llandudno, from where he went finally to Stockport (Edgeley) in July 1940. 

So far little has come to light about Reginald Arkinstall’s time at Woodlesford apart from the fact that Winifred won a scholarship to a secondary school in Leeds in 1929. Reg died in 1980 at the age of 92 in Stockport.

Woodlesford station house in about 1925. Sarah Arkinstall looks down in to the goods yard with three of her daughters.
This Midland Railway locomotive and type of train would have been very common passing through Woodlesford in the 1920s. The photo was taken just along the line at Rothwell Haigh where there were four tracks. The headlight position above the right buffer shows that it is a through goods, mineral or ballast train stopping at intermediate stations. The second to fifth wagons are Engineering Department stock with their characteristic axlebox guards. 2998 was built in 1876 and originally numbered 1230. It was given a G6 boiler, which it is carrying, in February 1920. This engine was based at Carlisle for many years before moving to Staveley near Chesterfield in December 1921. It was more likely to be at the latter shed when the photo was taken. It was renumbered 58171 after nationalisation in 1948 and withdrawn in 1959. (Details courtesy Peter Witts, Midland Railway Society.)