A historical curiosity – Fog Cottages

The original Lichfield Trent Valley station

Next to the original Lichfield Trent Valley station (north if the current one – see my blog post at https://profchrisbaker.com/…/lichfield-trent-valley…/ ) the OS map of 1900 shows a row of cottages that the census return names as Fog Cottages as shown in figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Lichfield Trent Valley 1900 OS map

I noticed recently whilst out walking that there is another similarly named row of cottages just beyond Rugeley Trent Valley station. This is not shown on the 1900 map, but is there on the 1920 map, again shown on Figure 2.

Figure 2. Rugeley Trent Valley 1920 OS Map

The Staffordshire Past Track website has a picture of these cottages at https://www.search.staffspasttrack.org.uk/Details.aspx… with the following explanation for the name.

“A postcard view of Fog Cottages, on the Colton Road near Trent Valley Station, Rugeley. They acquired the name Fog Cottages because the end cottage had an alarm bell installed and this was used in foggy conditions to call out the railway men who lived in the cottages to go and place fog detonator alarms on the nearby rails to assist the train drivers.”.

A modern view of the Rugeley Cottages (from Google Street View) is shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3. Fog Cottages, Rugeley

The question then arises as to whether the name of Fog Cottages has more widespread use. And the answer is that it does. Mathams and Keshall (2014) present an old photograph of a now demolished set of Fog cottages at Amington, next to the LNWR line north of Tamworth (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Fog Cottages Amington (Mathams and Keshall, 2014)

Rightmove (perhaps one of the more unusual historical sources!)  reveals that there are Fog Cottages at Watford, Collingtree and Althorp Parkin Northamptonshire and at Tring in Hertfordshire (see the Google Street View shots of these in figure 5). There are almost certainly more that I have not identified. All are next to the LNWR line, but only some are near stations or the sites of former stations. On the Amington Cottages Mathams and Keshall write

The LNWR standard cottages were built after 1883 when the design was introduced by Francis Webb, Chief Engineer of the LNWR and later examples – built after 1883/4 – are recognisable by the courses of stepped-out brickwork on the gable ends and under the eaves, and the four red-brick bands which run round the building in line with window sills and lintels, all of which can be seen in the picture below.  Nearly everything (except the slates) came from the LNWR works at Crewe;  bricks, woodwork and metal fittings.  

I can find no mentions of Fog Cottages other than in LNWR territory so it looks as if we have here a specifically LNWR naming policy. But if there are any occurrences away from the LNWR I would be pleased to be told.

2 thoughts on “A historical curiosity – Fog Cottages

  1. Hi, we live in a set of 5 Cottages known as Fog Cottages, Wrinehill 1 to 5 located by the West Coast Main Line. Found your history of Fog Cottage properties very interesting, all our cottages originally had bells on the living room walls. So the ‘Foggers’ were alerted when they were needed to go out on the track to set their detonators. All the cottages were originally painted inside with a brown and green paint. Outside toilets as was the norm in those days. Each garden was located further up the road and each had pig pens and allotment gardens. The cottages were sold by the railway in 1965 for £300 to some of the workers, as modern innovation reduced the need for detonators to be placed on the tracks. Modern bathrooms were introduced in the late 60’s and of course as time has passed by the ‘Foggers’ have passed into history.


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