Sunday, 7 February 2010

More memories

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.



Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

The railroads hold so much history. Glad that they hold some fond memories for you. That info about the coffin is fascinating.

Sybil said...

Sorry you coudn't sleep Andy, butyour sleeplesness means we can learn a little more of the railway history. I can just remember the Beeching era but had forgotten the coffin episodes...
Please try not to worry about next know the saying...tomorrow never comes !! don't even think about it,I'm sure if I am waiting for somthing to happen whether I look forward to it or otherwise it always seems to take a long time whilst if I am not, the weeks and days fly past !!
love Sybil

Linda George said...

That was really interesting, loved the bit about the ritual coffin, I had never heard of that.

Hope all goes well with your scan.

Peter Crouch......doesn't he play for England sometimes? LOL


Jeanie said...

The ritual coffin was 'news' to me too Andy.
I'm glad they never closed the line passing through Shap. That's the beautiful route I take by car or train when I go home to Scotland. YOu will remember the derailment at Grayrigg a couple of years ago?
I can understand your sleeplessness. I hope you have a positive outcome when you get your results.
My BIL has begun his chemo.
God bless you.

Angie said...

I can understand your sleeplessness too Andy. I would be the same. I can get a bit nasty too, when something's worrying me. Not to everybody, just to Keith. Poor bloke, he never bites back!

On a positive note, your 3am perambulations got us a very interesting blog to read.

Thinking of you - What day is the scan? love, Angie, xx