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Locations - Oxfordshire



Arbery, Wantage

Didcot Railway Centre


BANBURY. Cash Drapery Stores, 8-9 Parsons Street. "Many of our readers will doubtless be puzzled as to the meaning of the announcement made .. by the Cash Drapery Stores... An American firm, the Lamson Store Service Company, has just fitted the Stores a railway for the purpose of conveying cash to and from the office of the cashier. There are three 'stations', in convenient places over the counters, and the cash is placed in the cavity of a wooden ball opening in the centre, the interior being fitted with a spring which retains the money firmly in position. The ball is placed in a receptacle provided for the purpose, an elevator raises it from the station to the level of the line, and it travels alng the rails to its destination, light wires running along the sides... Twelve balls, each bearing a distinguishing mark, are provided for each station... Provision has been made for an extension of the railway, if desired, to the show-room. Banbury Advertiser, 19 May, 1892, p.4

BANBURY. Co-op., Broad Street/Fish Street. "A Lamson's rapid wire cash railway has been fixed in both departments." Banbury Guardian, 3 Sep. 1908, p. 8
• "The Banbury Co-operative Society has formed a War Savings Association for its members... At the Central shops it is intended to work a sixpenny coupon system by the cash 'carriers' in connection with the cash desks and offices." Banbury Advertiser, 8 Feb. 1917, p. 5
• "These distinctive premises .. were opened in August 1908... They provided space for the firm's grocery and tailoring departments, and featured a cash railway in both shops... Sadly, the shop .. is currently empty." Malcolm Graham and Laurence Waters. Banbury: then and now. (Stroud: History Press, 2011) p.87

CHIPPING NORTON. Co-op. Rapid wire system still being used in late 1960s. Posting by John Mann to uk.telecom newsgroup 29/11/96

FARINGDON. Goddards, 1 Bromsgrove. "There was a cash desk near the foot of the stairs. The money and sale ticket was put in a container at the sales counter and transported along wires to the cash desk, where the cashier would receipt the sale ticket, and put it and the change into the container and pull a lever to transport it back to the sales counter." Now Rats Castle bistro. Faringdon Online website

KIDLINGTON. Co-op. "Margaret Gordon came to Kidlington from London in 1948. Early days at Kidlington where she and her husband lived in an old house in the Moors from 1953, a quiet village, no pavements, beautiful Georgian houses, shopping at the Co-op where her liked the overhead cash 'railway'". Picture Oxon website

OXFORD. F. Cape & Co., 7, 8,11...32 St Ebbes Street. Wire system later replaced by pneumatic tube. "Another hallmark of the department store was the cash railway which, though disused, was not scrapped until the late 1960s... On busy days the railway became overloaded and younger members of staff were brought in to take cash to and from the desk. The cash railway was eventually replaced by a pneumatic tube system." Richard Foster: F.Cape & Co of St Ebbes St Oxford. (Oxford: Oxford City & Co Museum, 1973)
• "Our club cards, perhaps more money and the bill would be put into a little round container, screwed to an overhead railway, the handle pulled, and away it went across the shop, round corners, until it reached the office. A few minutes later it would zoom back with a clang and our change and a receipt would be given... As a girl I'd simply loved to have pulled the handle of that little overhead cash railway". Mrs Lillian Garrett in Oxford Mail, 16 March 1976, p.4
• Photographs of exterior and Rapid Wire proplusions (counter and cash office) on Westgate Oxford website.
• Photograph in Oxford Library (OCL 74/2648) 7 Dec. 1971, shows a Pneu-Art terminal in furniture department.
• "Until the 1960s the shop had a cash railway which propelled your money across the ceiling to a central cash desk and shot your change back" Malcolm Graham. A century of Oxford. (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999)

OXFORD. City Drapery Stores / Webbers, 10-12 High Street. "In consequence of the rapid and continued increase of business, this enterprising firm has also adopted the use of the Lamson Cash Railway, which is one of the most useful and clever inventions of our 'cute cousins' across the 'silver stream'. " Oxford Journal, 15 Oct. 1887, p. 7.
• At that time a novelty in Oxford... The shop was taken over by Webbers in 1905. (M.L.Turner and D.Vaisey. Oxford shops and shopping. Oxford: Oxford Illustrated Press, 1972. p.38.
• "The older generation will remember the little cash-holders speeding along their overhead wires to the cashier's cubby hole" Audrey M.Taylor. Gillets, bankers at Banbury and Oxford. Oxford: Clarendon, 1964, p.150.
• Photograph of November 1948 in Oxford Library (OCL 15626-N) shows tubes in the ceiling of the houseware department and another (OCL 15630-N) shows tubes and carriers in the millinery department.
• "Whereas Cape's had its famous money containers which sped along overhead wires, Webber's method was less visible. The money was put in a tube which went on a cash railway down to the basement. Here the cashiers would put in the change and send the tube back." Oxford Times Online
• External photograph at English Heritage website

OXFORD. Co-op, George Street. Pneumatic tube system in 1950s. (Andrew Kay)

OXFORD. Co-op, London Road, Headington. [In 1930s] "The whole corner of London Road and Windmill Road was occupied by the Co-op drapery department... The shop continued into Windmill Road with a grocery, and later perhaps a chemist's department. The attraction here for me was in the method used to deal with customers' money. The money and slip was sent to a cashier in a raised cubicle at the rear of the shop by enclosing it in a container which was then attached to a carrier above the assistant. He pulled a handle which released a spring which shot the carrier along an overhead wire to the cashier." Headington History website

OXFORD. Elliston & Cavell (dept store), Magdalen Street. Pneumatic tube system in 1940s (Ian Walker) and early 1960s (Andrew Kay). It was the largest department store in Oxford. It was taken over by Debenhams in 1953 but the name was not changed until 1973.
• "There was a very dignified shop called Elliston and Cavell, where money and receipts whizzed in lead containers along wires from the counter to the cashier and back again... Elliston and Cavell had all the hauteur and stuffiness that I would soon associate with Marshall and Snellgrove, Dickens and Jones, Debenham and Freebody, emporia where all the ladies seemed to look vaguely like Virginia Woolf." Penelope Mortimer. About time: an aspect of autobiography. (London: Allen Lane, 1979), p.65

OXFORD. Sainsburys, High Street. Wire system in 1940s. (Ian Walker)

OXFORD. Smart & Faulkner (grocers), Magdalen Road. "In complete contrast was .. Smart Faulkner's grocery shop... Goods were paid for over the counter, the money with the bill was put into a small container which was then slotted into an overhead wire and by the pull of a handle, sent spinning along the wire to a central, raised cash desk... The cash railway held great fascination for me and I used to envy the cashier perched high in her eyrie and admire the efficient way in which she effected the exchange and the assurance with which she sent that little container twanging on its way." Phyl Surman. Pride of the morning: an Oxford childhood. (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1992), p. 72

OXFORD. Webbers, High Street. Store closed in October 1971. Cash carrier. Anne Elisabeth Pill on Facebook.

starWANTAGE. Arbery & Son (drapers), 11-12 Market Place. Now Arbery Bar & Bistro. Foot-operated Lamson pneumatic tube system connecting terminal on the ground floor with one in the first-floor office. (I visited in May 2007.)


star DIDCOT. Railway Centre. Display of wire system carriers and pneumatic tube equipment, some from collection of the late Robin Adcroft. There is a working basket carrier from Kansas City. Photographs

star indicates systems which are still there (as far as I know) though they may not be working.