Charles Hodkinson, Rothley Stationmaster, d.1948

Revd Richard Sharp from Helmsley, near York, submitted this photograph of Charles Hodkinson. He had obtained a copy of the biographical book Frederick Merttens who bought the Rothley Temple Estate in 1894, and gave the land to the Great Central Railway for Rothley Station to be on estate land. In communication with the Author he commented that the Author had guessed guessed, correctly, that he had a personal interest in the subject. Richard Sharpe continues that:

"My maternal grandfather Charles Hodkinson was the station master at Rothley at the beginning of the last century. I have found his name in my copy of the 1916 Kelly's directory. I have his silver Swiss watch (merrily ticking away as I type), his GCR whistle, a few of his books and his GCR War Service medal which, as you will know, was worn by men in what we would call protected occupations, to defend them from the charge of avoiding military service in WWl.

My memory says that Charles was educated at Preston Grammar School and saw clerical service, before going to Wickenby, south west of Market Raisen in Lincolnshire, on the MS&L., before, I presume, transferring to the GCR London Extension. I have a memory that his surname of Hodgkinson was changed to Hodkinson because of family estrangement from others who had prospered into middle and higher railway management but whose successes had been denied to him. This may be sour grapes and is pure anecdote, but has an altogether familiar ring.

His wife was Mary. They had ten children, which must have been a terrible squash in the station house. They retired to Birstall and lived in Hill Rise. He died in 1948, when I was a baby. He is buried in Birstall churchyard, east of the old chancel. I believe the stone may have been cleared. Mary was a committed Christian, a deacon at the Rothley Baptist Church and, as far as I am concerned, a big influence on me. She predicted, quite accurately, that I would go into the Ministry, begun at Hinckley (I am Leicester born and bred) and, for the last final fifteen years, at Desford, before my late wife and I retired to her native county of Yorkshire. When I was a schoolboy, Mary would talk to me about life at the station. I remember her speaking of Squire Merttens and a visit by Kitchener, as well as seeing many items from what I will call the Sam Fay era which, sadly, vanished when she died, in her nineties, in 1965. One of the daughters, Margery, lived in Babington Court, in Woodgate and I can remember my wife and I, with our baby son, taking her to have tea at what had become the Rothley Court Hotel, for her ninetieth birthday in 1987. Her last surviving daughter died in 1999 when I bundled up many reminiscences and sent them to the GCR at Loughborough. I received no acknowledgement and do not know if any use was made of them. I realise that, as with so many preserved steam railways, they have become a major contributor to the local economy.

Two items. One was I remember being told of sleepers placed on the line during one of the Edwardian strikes. The other is that, apparently, the Hodkinsons were known as the Station House Snobs. I can remember disparaging remarks being made about the Sleaths of Rothley, out of whose number a lady porter was recruited during WWl and whose name I saw on a brass plate on a seat on the island platform. Plus ca change".