Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Newspapers, Stamps and Postal Orders

Firstly I must record my sadness about the decision of the BBC to close 6Music. It is about the only national radio station that I can listen to. Otherwise I restrict myself to either BBC Kent or BBC Sussex, I certainly can not listen to the comercial network which has morphed in to Heart. I have added my name to the on line petition to save 6Music however as it only broadcasts on DAB its listnership is always going to be lower than an FM station.

Anyway after a year at Beckenham Junction I was on the move again, this time to Sole Street. The only reason that there was a station at Sole Street and the subsequent establishment of a village there was that when the London Chatham and Dover Railway built ther London extension Lord Darnley of Cobham Hall refused to have the railway any where near Cobham Hall his residence. As a result the line was built to the south even though this involved a steep climb out of the Medway Valley on which in past times many a steam train has come to grief. As a result of this the station was one of only three on South Eastern to run its own post office. The station staff at that time was quite large-two signalmen, two railmen and myself. (Now its just one part timer). We also sold papers on behalf of a newsagent from a neighbouring village- to this day I do not know how he ever made any money as everytime we tried to give him the paper money we were always fobbed off with comments like 'can't take it now' or 'give it to charity'!

The Post Office also did a roaring trade as in those days pensions and benefits were paid in cash and cheques were comparatively rare so there was always a demand for postal orders. As a result of this we got to know every one in the village and it was a lovely atmosphere to work in, you knew all your customers by name and they knew yours. It was a result of this that I met my first serious girl friend a relationship that lasted about 4 years long after I left Sole Street.

One strange thing about Sole Street was that the telephone box outside the station shared the same number as the ticket office so you had to be cautious about using the phone. As Cobham Hall had now become a girls boarding school we also had the joy of the girls arriving at start of term and departing at the end. You have never seen so much luggage, we used to have to get the 12.14 train from Victoria strengthened on the first day with a motor luggage van and the same on a return trip. Road transport was provided for the journey from station to school.

Even though I was happy there I thought that it was time to move on and in British Rail days a national vacancy list was issued every week and when I saw an advert for a job on the divisional relief I applied but will tell you about that next time.

As a matter of interest the other South Eastern stations with post offices were Pluckley and Martin Mill. It has also been suggested that I amplify my memories and write a book but you are probably completely bored by now.



Jeanie said...

You haven't lost my interest Andy. I am enjoying your memoirs of the railway.
It is very interesting and, without photos, I like to imagine what these stations look like.
The newsagent was unique. Wasn't he? Those were the days when people and neighbours mattered to each other.
Carry on the good work. Don't stop. There will always be a little 'imp of doubt' sitting on your shoulders. Learn to tell him to get lost and do what you are good at.
I am enjoying your stories.

Linda George said...

Lovely to read about your memories Andy.

My husband is another casualty of the BBC cuts. For the last 18 months he has been doing specialist music programmes in the evenings. His contract isn't to be renewed this month.

Shared programmes with other local stations seems to be the way forward, so it looks as if the BBC will be following the already established path of Commercial radio.

How sad when you think of all those people who fought for local independent radio stations and just 30 short years later we are losing them.

Sybil said...

don't stop telling us about all your exploits Andy..We are all so interested in reading about your railway experiences and any other come to that matter...I agree with you about the radio though. It is the same down her ein the west country one of the very fav. programmes on a Sat evening from 8.10 has just been axed. It was mainly targeted to the older generation who have flooded the BBC local station with complaints...does it matter, do they hang they do. They say it is to do with audience numbers...the new 8.10 slot being taken over with what I call "bash bash music" what time do youngsters go out on a Sat evening 8 till late !! I ask you..
Love sybil xx

Ally Lifewithally said...

Sorry the BBC are closing the one programme you enjoy listening to ~
I throughly enjoy reading your memories and yes you really should write that book ~ Ally x

Jan said...

So sorry to hear about your music programme ,loving your storys keep it up ,can remember shared phone lines(party lines!) and real money in wage packets lol Jan xx

Liz said...

You have the contents of a fascinating book held in your memories and also the ability to write it so that the story breathes within the pages and lives again in the mind of the reader.

Do not hesitate to write down your thoughts, as they will surely stand tall beside you when the book is published.

Angie said...

If you feel happy about writing the book, do it, but if not .....well..... there are a lot of us out here who know not the first thing about railways but seek out your blog simply because it's a blinking good read. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I'm not very good on geography but I've imagined your station to be like the rural ones with a flower-bed beneath its name. It would be nice to dig up pictures of things as they were. do have a book in the making :)