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 ARCHIVES: Desford Railway 

How the Railway Changed Desford

Desford gained another public house
The Lancaster Arms Hotel was originally built as a private residence by Joseph Dymock in the 19th century.  Many of his ex-yeomanry friends from Market Bosworth, Peckleton and Kirkby Mallory used to catch the train at Desford station to do business in Leicester and Burton-on-Trent. Mr. Dymock offered to stable their horses at his house and on their return offered drinks and meals.  His generosity became rather expensive so he eventually applied for a licence and the house became the rather exclusive Lancaster Arms Hotel.

In the 1841 census Desford had just two railway labourers working on the railway.

After the Station Master’s house had been built in 1848, according to the 1851 census Desford had the Station Master, a porter and two labourers living in the village.

Gradually over the years the railway provided more and more work for the men living in Desford.  In 1861 we had 8 men and in 1871 we had 23 men. Their occupations were listed as station master, labourer, porter, plate layer, clerk, pointsman, gate keeper and foot messenger.

The railway made it possible for the residents of Desford to get an ice cream from Mr. Moss at the post office before the day of freezers. Walter Starbuck who was the landlord of The Blue Bell collected from Desford Station huge packs of ice sent by rail from the cold storage depot near Leicester station. The Moss family made their creamy home-made ice cream and the villagers rushed to enjoy it while supplies lasted.

Moving food produce around the country became faster and easier. Diets improved in terms of the variety and quality of the food available. Fish and chips became a popular meal when fresh fish was delivered from the coastal towns within a day.

The Railway Act 1844 required each company to run one passenger train a day along the length of their line at the cheap rate of one penny a mile. The carriages on this train had to be provided with seats and protected from the weather. Previously passengers rode in open freight cars.

Rail travel was quicker, cheaper and more comfortable than travelling by stagecoach and this encouraged people to travel further. This also meant that they could move to different areas to find work.

Eventually Thomas Cook’s travel business started to offer special charter trains to popular seaside resorts.

With the introduction of railways, travel became faster and with every station keeping its own time, synchronized times were needed. By 1847, most railways were using “London Time”, the time set at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.


Further information:



Caroline Wessel.  The Early Railway in Desford, article
DDLHS archives
Kathleen Taylor & Caroline Wessel.  A Desford Childhood, booklet

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