Les King was a well-known figure in the village for many years. His father was the stationmaster at Dinton railway station and after service in the Middle East during WW II, he partly owned the Garage whilst it was known as Lever & King. He sold up to become an independent engineer, with a workshop in Dinton Road. After his retirement, it was demolished and the property replacing it was named “The Old Workshop”.
In 1981, we were fortunate enough for Les to record his reminiscences, some of which are summarised below:
In 1921 Les King’s father, Dennis Raymond King, was the stationmaster at Dinton Station when it was part of the London and South-Western Railway. He supervised a Booking Clerk, two Signalmen and three Porters.
In those days, apart from a substantial station house there was a large corrugated iron goods shed, a cattle dock and a crane. The adjacent signal box manually controlled the signals using a system operating from Salisbury to Yeovil, linking booking offices, signal boxes and crossing gates. Signalling was by telegraph with a repeater bell on the station platform.
Les remembered being comfortable in the Station house undisturbed by the platform bell, but often awoken by old six-wheeled stock on the 3am milk train. He also remembered a near-accident when a signalman’s error allowed some wagons that were being shunted to overlap on to the main line. Fortunately the shunting engine driver managed to pull them clear in time.
In the FHIG photograph albums we not only have photographs of Les as a Territorial Army soldier but also a copy of an “airgraph” sent by him as a Christmas greeting. Airgraphs were the predecessors to microfilms and were used by military post offices to save weight and space for airmail letters. You can find more details about airgraphs on this link and the copy that we hold was one sent by Les to his family when we was a Staff Sergeant at an Ordnance Workshop in the Middle East. Click on the camel to enlarge the image.
A Fovant engineer
Upon his return from the Army, Les joined Sid Lever, at the garage, but eventually left to run his own establishment as a general engineer. Amongst many of his activities he raced motor bikes and we have several photographs of his various vehicles with friends aboard.