The Beginning

The Beginning

The first passenger train to depart from the new station at Kettering was a shilling excursion to Leicester on 7 May 1857. Thirty-three coaches set off, pulled by 2 engines.
The official opening was a week later when 3000 trippers from the town travelled in three trains to Bedford, Southill Park and Hitchin. Shops and businesses closed for the day, there were street parties to celebrate the event, and tea for 1400 at Mitton's bowling green.
In those early days, passengers who were stranded for the night could rely on the goodwill of foreman porter Charles Holmes, who would take them home, give them a bed and breakfast, and deliver them back to the station in time for the first train of the morning.
The present station building was begun in 1898, and it has remained largely unaltered until today. The other platforms with their ornamental ironwork supporting the glazed roofs are the same as on that historic day in 1857.

The Effect

Before the station opened, the price of coal in Kettering was almost double what it was in Market Harborough (which had a station). By the end of 1857, the prices were the same.
The navvies who built the railway were big spenders, mainly on alcoholic beverages, but also food. It was estimated that in one year, the 3000 navvies working on the Kettering to Manton branch spent over £100,000 (£4.5m by today's reckoning!), all of which gave a significant boost to the local economy.
The railway was also essential for the boot and shoe trade, bringing in the leather and other materials, and enabling easy distribution of the finished product.

The Railwaymen's MP

Local Kettering MP, Francis Allston Channing, played an important role in trying to improve the dreadful safety record of the country's railways. Between 1875 and 1900, over 12,000 railwaymen lost their lives in accidents, mainly due to a lack of safety devices on trains, and also to tiredness from the scandalously long shifts (17 hours a day was average for drivers). He proposed Bills limiting shifts to 12 hours maximum and making compulsory the installation of improved signalling, brakes and automatic couplings. By 1893 he had managed to get most of these measures passed, and he became known as the 'Railwaymen's MP' for his tireless efforts.

Photo:Kettering Station in 1857

Kettering Station in 1857

This page was added by Chris Leuchars on 14/02/2008.
Comments about this page

Looks very similar to Rushton village station today. Beautiful architecture.

By Raw Hide
On 03/07/2015

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MLA Department for Education and Skills DCMS Learn with museums Kettering Borough Council