Herbert Washington France – Stationmaster, Quorn and Woodhouse Great Central Railway Station, 1899 to 1917
Herbert France was born in 1866. He became stationmaster at the Great Central Quorn and Woodhouse railway station, shortly after it opened in 1899, until his death aged 51 in 1917. He and his family lived in the Stationmaster’s house in Quorn. The picture on the left appeared in the Great Central Railway Journal, Vol II No 1, July 1906. It accompanied an article about the station and the picturesque walk through to Woodhouse and Swithland. Herbert died, aged just 51 in July 1917. The following obituary, together with the photograph on the right, appeared in the Great Central Railway Journal in August 1917:
Obituary – H W France, Station Master, Quorn
With deep regret we record the death of Herbert Washington France, who died 6th July. Mr France had been ailing some years, the result of shock after receiving bad news; how true it is that
............ “it is never good
To bring bad news: give to a gracious message
An host of tongues, but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.”
It was hoped that the brave fight he put up against disease would be successful, assisted by an unwearied wife, and that most devoted medical man, Dr Tuckett. It was not to be. How bravely he fought, is shown by the fact that the day before he died he was carried out into the garden that he loved, and to which he had given much of his spare time for nearly eighteen years, and where he spent a few quiet and restful hours, really enjoying the breezes that came fragrantly laden from Charnwood Forest.
Mr France joined the service at Stalybridge, October 1883, removed to Staveley Works, June 1892; to Ashburys, November 1894. Made Station Master at Checker House July 1898, and promoted to Quorn, August 1899.
The funeral was on 10th July, and in accordance with a comforting and friendly custom of the place, a bier on wheels, moved by the bearers (members of the staff) and preceded by the Loughborough GC Division St John’s Ambulance Corps (of which the deceased was a member) and followed by relatives and friends left the Station House for the Church, where a large number of people were gathered to show their respect for the man who had been a devoted servant of the Company, and no less a devoted servant of the public.
The service was conducted by the Rev H H Rumsey, in an impressive manner, and before the mourners left the Church for the grave side, “Peace perfect peace” was sung.
The members of the family present were, Mrs and Miss France (wife and daughter) Mrs France (mother), Mr J H France (brother), Mrs Newton (sister-in-law), Mr and Mrs Royle (cousins). With the many friends were Mr and Mrs Thornton, Mr and Mrs Holmes, Mr Bust (Station Master, Wadsley Bridge), Mr Bust junior (Acting Station Master, Quorn). Mr Mrs and Miss Gamble, Mr and Mrs Tate (Loughborough), Mrs Gledhill, Inspector Almey, and Messrs Hart, Hutchinson and Johnson.
There were a large number of beautiful wreaths from relatives and friends.
In respect of Mr Bust, Wadsley Bridge, it is of interest to state that he was the first Station Master at Quorn, being sent there from Checker House, at which Station he was succeeded by Mr France. To complete the singular coincidence, the son of Mr Bust, who a few months ago left the Army, and as a Relief Clark has been Acting Station Master during the last illness of our departed friend, of whom we have left only pleasant memories. To his widow, mother and daughter, memories will not do at all, but as Bernard Barton wrote a hundred years ago:
“Vain, Memory! Vain thy partial spell:
Thou canst not to the eye repair
The painful void; but thou mayest dwell
Within our hearts, and lighten there.”
The piece below appeared in the November 1917 edition of the magazine
Quorn – The late H W France
In the Journal for August appeared an obituary notice of Mr H W France. A general desire was expressed by those who had known Mr France, that their appreciation of his character should take tangible shape. Mr William Harding generously undertook the work, with the result that £86 12/6 was quickly subscribed and the total amount, free of expense, has been invested in War Loan in the name and for the benefit of Mrs France, to whom the certificate will be handed when it is received.
Herbert left £466 10/8 when he died and he was buried in Quorn Churchyard. It must have been a very hard year for his wife Alice. Just four months later in November 1917, their only child, Ester Isobel France died aged 17. Alice died 16 years later on the 10th Jan 1933; she was buried in Quorn with her husband and daughter.