I am writing this at 3 in the morning as I can not sleep for various reasons.
As I said in my previous entry my interest in railways was sparked by the major rebuilding works in Kent and this led on to undertaking many trips by train with a very good friend of mine. We ventured far and wide, the longest trip being to Edinburgh and back for the day. Of course by the time I was a teenager the country was in the midst of the Beeching cuts which were the first attempt to run railways profitably and we travelled many miles on soon to be closed lines and on one occasion we were actually on the last train and saw the ritual coffin being loaded on to the train. This was common practice to indicate that the line was being laid to rest.
One other thing that came out of these 'last' journeys was an understanding of the history of the lines and the reason that they were built. The most common reason was for freight traffic especially perrishable food stuffs, until the advent of the railways it was impossible to buy fresh fish in Manchester for example. They also enabled local populations to travel to major towns to visit markets. In a lot of places there was a duplication of lines by competing companies.
A good example of this is the routes to Scotland, the two main routes to Scotland were the East and West Coast routes but ther was another competitor in the form of the Midland railway who fed up with the delays to ther traffic on other companies lines built the Settle and Carlisle railway which became known as The Long Drag due to the fearsome gradients. It was also the last main line railway to be built purely by manual labour. Despite numerous attempts to close this line it is still going strong today. Sadly it was on this line that the accident at Hawes Junction occured on Christmas Eve 1910, the story of which should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in human nature and frailties.
Over the years I have built up a collection of railway history books, the first one I purchased was History of The Southern Railway all 3500 pages as well as lots of historical timetables which give a fascinating insite into live in previous years. I also read accident reports from the RAIB where incidents on the railway are thoroughly investigated and it can take over a year to be published.
I think that now brings us up to 7th september 1968 the day I joined the South Eastern division of British Rails Southern Region.
Sorry if this has been a rather long (and probably boring) entry but I can not sleep probably because I have a nuclear scan and consultants visit next week and its rather playing on my mind.
Sadly over the years I have lost contact with my friend but if by any chance anybody knows Peter Crouch who was last heard of living in the York area, I would love to make contact again.