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The Railway & The Fitzwilliams Arms

Although there is a railway station listed in the 1851 Census for Chelveston,
it was locally called Irthlingborough Railway Station.

These two fine photographs are courtesy of the Irthlingborough Historical Society.
Irthlingborough Railway Station The Fitzwilliam Arms
Irthlingborough Railway Station in Chelveston Parish
The Fitzwilliam Arms

Irthlingborough Railway Station and the neighbouring public house and hotel, the Fitzwilliam Arms stood close to the river Nene and near to the village, but the parish boundary with Chelveston was in front of the buildings so they actually stand in Chelveston parish. An Act of Parliament had decreed that wherever the railway line crossed a turnpike road, then a station should be built at that place. This was the point where the line crossed the main road from London to the North of England.
[Note: After the Fitzwilliam Arms closed it became a transport cafe run by Jo Ball. It was also a hostel for truckers, but this declined rapidly after the M1 opened and it was eventually closed and sold. The next owner was Les Jupp who ran a scrap yard there. (Les died in September 2009 in Spain) It is now a private house.]

The railway was at first referred to as Higham Ferrers Station. It was built in 'an isolated position' between the three parishes of Chelveston, Irthlingborough and Higham Ferrers, but Higham being a borough, and also the place where the Hundred Court was held in earlier times, was the main parish of the area. When Higham Ferrers got its own station this one became known as Irthlingborough Station.

Station View
Station View - Irthlingborough
Station and crossing
Station and Crossing
The old station
The old station that served Higham Ferrers - built in Chelveston parish - later called Irthlingborough Station, where Arthur George's father was master from 1908

The station and sidings
The station and sidings near the old river bridge

Arthur George was born on December 25th 1906 at Earls Barton & Castle Ashby railway station house. When he was 18 months old the George family moved to Irthlingborough station where his father Frederick became the stationmaster. He always spoke of a happy childhood, and attended the infant and junior schools at Irthlingborough. Arthur became widely respected in the area as a photographer and opened a studio in Washbrook Road, Rushden in 1925.

The railway station is on the Northampton to Peterborough line and was much used for holidays to the east coast, often to Great Yarmouth, for families from all around the area. This included townsfolk from Rushden as they only had a branch line for connection to Wellingborough and London, to aid transport of the vast amount of shoes they were exporting by end of the 1880's, and that was not built until 1893.

Another isolated railway station is at Ditchford some two miles west on the same line, but not all trains would stop there.

Wellingborough News, 23rd September 1882, transcribed by Kay Collins

QUOIT MATCH—On Saturday last the members of the Higham Ferrers Station Club played a social game near the mill, after which the players and friends adjourned to the Fitzwilliam's Arms where a capital supper was well served by Mrs. Withers. Among those who sat down, were Mr. C. Parker, Mr. Goodman, Mr. Taylor. Mr. Felce, Mr. Browning, Mr. Woodward, Mr. Wright, Mr. W. Groome, and Mr. R. Chown. Mr. Withers presided, and after the cloth was drawn a pleasant evening was spent with songs and social intercourse.

Wellingborough News, 11th November 1882, transcribed by Kay Collins

Wellingborough Police Court. Friday, Nov. 10th.
Before Mr. Spencer Pratt, Mr. C. J. K. Woolston, and Lieut.-Col. Rawlins.

ASSAULT AT CHELVESTON—William Jeyes, of Higham, was summoned for assaulting Mr. Withers, landlord of "Fitzwilliam Arms," Chelveston, in February last. After the assault defendant left the neighbourhood, and has only recently returned. The evidence showed that defendant challenged a man named Spicer to fight, and on the landlord interfering struck him. Fined £1 and £1 7s. 6d. costs, or a month's imprisonment.


Rushden Echo, 15th August 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins

Holiday Crowds returning home reached Rushden in large numbers last Friday, and by Saturday most of those who went to the seaside were back again. A train from Yarmouth on Saturday came right through to Irthlingborough L. and N.W. Station without the trippers having to change. Not a few people decided where they were given the chance, to remain at the seaside until Monday in view of the splendid weather. We understand that at Yarmouth the tradespeople and others prepared to cater for 100,000 visitors, and that of that number 70,000 were estimated to be in the town during Bank Holiday week.

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