Thursday, 4 February 2016

Standing at the end of the platform waiting for the express to thunder past

Ask me what I remember about growing up in the 1950s, and somewhere there will be train spotting which was a cheap hobby and could be indulged in on your own or in the company of friends.

It also had the added attraction that by swapping the information you made you new friends and a shed load of new knowledge.

That said it was never a passion of mine which I suppose was because of the competing interest of the Tower of London and my own train set which grew every birthday and every Christmas.

Still lots of people did and it and it is still popular today although I guess it will always have been the magic of steam which made the difference.

Standing on the platform at Queens Road station watching the green Southern Region trains rumble in on the way to London Bridge hardly compared with the smell of warm steam and oil and the chunk and chudder of a steam loco pulling out of a mainline terminus.

All of which explains the swarm of lads in matching raincoats and caps standing at the end of a platform with note pad and pencil at the ready.

Later some of them will have progressed to taking a camera and even later a tape recorder capturing some of the last pictures of steam locos before they vanished from the tracks.

And I am glad they did, after all steam powered trains have been with us since the beginning of the 19th century and there is a romance to them, although mother never saw the magic.

To her they just pushed out smoke and cinders which got you clean washing dirty.

But I still love the smell of steam and oil and whenever I am in the Science and Industry Museum the Locomotive Hall is one of the first places that I visit.

Thinking about it perhaps I should have made the effort but I am not sure how many I would have seen on the South East Region and I was too young to take off to the big London termini.

So, a lost opportunity but as these two pictures of my old friend David Harrop testify, train spotting was part of the 1950s and early 60s for many kids.

He tells me he the first was taken around 1961 and the second a few years later by Edgeley goods shed in Stockport.

And of course along with the school blazer it is the bike which pretty much went wit train spotting.

And that is about it.

Pictures; courtesy of David Harrop

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