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My daughter Kiera recently ‘swam up’ from Beavers to join the Cubs. Her bright, badge-swathed aqua- marine polo-shirt traded for the more traditional dark green of the Scout movement. Nervous times. I’d seen her go from newcomer to lodge leader over the couple of years she’d been attending. Now she was having to start again. But her fellow Cubs were friendly and welcoming, and she was soon mix- ing in, in that delightful way that most children have. I noticed then that their uniform had a badge on the neck scarf. A picture of a steam train. And I wondered why.


Now, there’s a lot of history woven around Coulsdon and trains. The future too. I’ve no doubt that the fast connection between Coulsdon South and the centre of London will prove a significant attraction for the new residents of the Barratts Cane Hill development. A hundred years ago there was a covered walkway directly linking the hospital to the station which was once named ‘Coulsdon and Cane Hill’. There’s not one on the current plans, but who knows, history might yet re- peat itself. And the station name. Could that change again? Well, in its time it’s been Coulsdon (When it first opened in 1889), Coulsdon and Cane Hill (1896), Coulsdon East (1923) and finally Coulsdon South from 1929. And we’ve not been short of sta- tions locally either. The first one opened back in 1841 was called Stoat’s Nest and was mainly there


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to help get people to Epsom Race- course. It didn’t last very long and closed again in 1856 because a new, more direct route to Epsom opened up. Watching the horses played a sig- nificant role in the building of what we know as the Tattenham Corner line too. Local MP and Chairman of South Eastern Railway, the wonder- fully named Sir Cosmo Bonsor, pushed through, despite much opposition, a railway line called the Chipstead Valley Railway to King- swood and Burgh Heath that opened in 1897. By Epsom’s Derby Day in 1901, it went all the way to Tattenham Corner. Smitham station opened on the line in 1904, and changed to Coulsdon Town (which still sounds like an unsuccessful 2nd Division football team to me) in 2011. 1899 saw the opening of the Stoat’s Nest and Cane Hill station. The road opposite Waitrose in Coulsdon called Station Approach led to it. Over the years, it too changed names several times. When it final- ly closed in 1983 it was called Coulsdon North. But in 1910 it was still called Stoat’s Nest and Cane Hill. And at 4.30pm on 29 January a London-bound express train from Brighton made up of an engine, a tender and ten carriages approached the station at about 45mph. As it passed St Anne’s School in Redhill, the pas- sengers began to hear a grating noise. The carriages began to shake. Passing through the tunnel, sparks coming from underneath the train illuminated the tunnel walls. Thirty seconds or so after the train had passed under the walkway to Cane Hill, the rear six carriages completely derailed. The lead car- riage of these swung sideways and crashed into the platform killing two men who had been standing there. The carriage was completely wrecked. Five passengers were killed instantly and a further sixty


Coulsdon North Station just before closure in 1983


five injured. You can imagine the devastation and confusion. Luckily, a group of children from the Purley, Coulsdon and District Scout Troop, one of the world’s earliest Scout Troops, were playing football nearby. They immediately ran to help. From First Aid to carry- ing stretchers and taking messages for the police and railway officials, they did anything that would aid the unfortunate victims of the crash. And they were all aged be- tween just 11 and 14. The Troop was subsequently awarded the Scout Movement’s Medal of Merit by its founder Lord Baden-Powell, and the troop became so popular with children it had to split into three different groups to cope. That’s why my daughter, and many other children, now carry that little railway train on their scarves. It’s a badge of honour. It shows that children are capable of great things, when shown the way. The Scout Movement has been doing it for over a century, and my thanks go out to all the selfless individuals who give up their time and put in incredible effort to give children new and different experiences, and teach them things not covered by school. It’s not the only way, but it’s a good one. P


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l M Fod wrts fr Gay oi he Wi ng B e


r rti wwwgay ran o .r doi .cm Log intowww.cr5.co.uk your local community website !


ie o r Dran urau


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