Graham Ellis has for many years been at the forefront of the campaign for better train and bus services through Melksham. Here he explains how Julie Boston helped motivate the Wiltshire campaign.
On the day of Julie’s funeral, I travelled from home in Melksham to Canford Crematorium in Bristol, connecting to the Severn Beach line at Bristol Temple Meads as far as Sea Mills and walking up from there. A lovely day, and as I travelled I reflected on how busy the line was, how frequent the trains, and how much that has changed over the years thanks to the campaigns that Julie Boston, over many years, was a key (perhaps THE key) in with the Friends of Bristol Suburban Railways. The crowd outside was substantial, and in the chapel all the seats were filled with many standing at the back. Just a handful sombrely dressed; most of us were in maroon and red and pink as requested by Julie. Which did not lessen the very clear love and memories from her family and their grief.
So many people
After the service, I walked back down to the station, took the train to Montpelier – busy even in the middle of the day – and with two ladies doing the same thing and we had a bite to eat on Gloucester Road before going on to the wake nearby.
And that was an even bigger event – half a dozen friends from FoSBR , other friends from the walking group, but we were just a small, small segment of the huge gathering and we heard so many people talking in prose, poetry and song of Julie and her influences and memories. Julie was very much a person of the people – very much on the left of politics, very much a campaigner for the under-considered and unfairly treated, and very much a person who inspired others and drew together a co-operative (team) for her projects. And she did not hold back – she was very brave in campaigning in ways that were effective, but would have been outside the comfort level for many of us to lead, or indeed rather to the discomfort of those she was looking to (and often did!) influence.
Julie and what FoSBR could achieve was one of the influencers that motivated our local campaign here in Wiltshire for an improved train service. She visited Melksham, walked with us in the carnival parade to help raise the cause, and was very much a respected member of our wider group of influencers.
As I looked at the Severn Beach line, with its train every 30 minutes, significant flows of passengers on and off every service at every station even in the middle of the day, I see what can be achieved. Here in Melksham, we have moved up from 2 to 8 trains each way per day – from a useless service to a poor one every 2 hours and we need to follow Julie’s ongoing lead up to an appropriate service level. She may have passed on, but the memories remain, the friendships with so many others linked, and the very concrete achievements which also remain and are being built on.
Thank You, Julie.
This was originally posted on the Great Western Coffeeshop forum