Hasford Blacklock is a small fictional town located towards the southern end of the East Coast Main Line, somewhere in Lincolnshire.
The settlement at Hasford (or Haseford in the old tongue), as with many other towns ending in ~ford, was born out of its early origins as a convenient crossing point for trade from one side of the river Hase to the other. This settlement grew slowly and steadily until barge-trade along the river during the Industrial Revolution brought much prosperity to the area. Unfortunately the meandering nature of the river didn’t lend itself to heavy traffic-flow, so a separate navigation spur with a series of locks was constructed to the north of the then-small town to enable easier barge movements to and from the Midlands. As there weren’t really any other sizeable villages to name the locks by they were given a simple “colour-coding” designation identified by the colour the lock gate beam-ends were painted, so the barge pilots and the waterway authorities could relay their position if any difficulty occurred.
As the town grew under its new-found prosperity it spread westwards along the original river route where flat building land was the most plentiful, eventually engulfing the junction between the natural river and it’s now-quiet navigation spur just south of the Black Lock. By this time a small hamlet had sprung up around the old lock-keepers cottage, so rather than just absorb the village into the growing town, the County Council decided to mark its historical importance as a major transport route by suffixing "black lock" to the town name – hence "Hasford Blacklock".
NB: The Red Lock is visible on the layout, this being the next lock downstream from the Black Lock.
There has been a dairy serving the inhabitants of Hasford since its pre-industrial growth, local milk supplies being sufficient for the small town. However, with the post-industrial boom and the resultant growth in population it was becoming more difficult to obtain enough milk from local herds to meet demand, the hilly landscape around Hasford being more suited to sheep grazing than heavy cattle! The railway had already come to Hasford years earlier as a major North-South route, so the natural solution was to bring milk in by rail from further south where the flatter land better suited cattle-farming. A set of sidings was taken off the main lines into a disused quarry-bed where raw milk could be brought in by rail-tanker early in the morning, and processed in a newly-built plant for delivery the same day.
Although most goods transport has since moved from rail to road, Hasford Blacklock - as it was now called - kept its rail deliveries as road links beyond the town were deemed unsuitable for constant heavy-goods traffic. And so it remains the last surviving dairy in the UK to rely on rail transport to keep the inhabitants in and around Hasford Blacklock supplied with fresh milk for their morning cuppa!!!
Branch Line to Great Cosseworth
The single-line branch to Great Cosseworth some 45 miles away was constructed in the early 1900's to bring sheep-livestock and other goods from the farms and surrounding small industries into Hasford where the main rail-link was, and return with fuel supplies such as coal and other foodstuffs as arable farms were almost non-existent in the area. Again the later growth in road transport made the line redundant in freight terms but by then it was also running a small commuter service for the inhabitants of Great Cosseworth and the various villages along the route into Hasford Blacklock. As Great Cosseworth grew as a town in its own right and commuter journeys became longer the peak-time service was extended to include direct services to the major towns to the south, where passengers can connect with the mainline Intercity services, stopping at Hasford Blacklock as a connection instead of terminating there. Although the branch is mainly single track, passing loops are provided at intermediate stations along the line.
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