50s and 60s Railways and Trains.

Is it just here in Britain or are people in other countries fondly nostalgic for the railways and steam trains of days gone by? I think it could be because there are no longer steam engines and also many of our lines closed in the 60s. We still have trains but our memories of earlier train travel are tied up with the smell of coal fires, the sound of the whistles, the style of the engines and the wonderfully warm and welcoming stations with cosy waiting rooms.

Whatever the reason, we do seem to look back on steam trains with a great deal of sentiment so I thought I’d tap into some of that today. If you lived through the era of steam trains you will understand what I’m saying!

Our village station had a full time station master who looked after the station with pride. There was a signal box on one side of the line full of coloured levers and switches and a station building on the other side housing a ticket office and a waiting room – even though this was a rural station serving a tiny village. There was always a coal fire burning in the waiting room in winter and it was a joy to be able to warm our hands and faces in front of it whilst waiting for the train.

The following photographs are a random selection of photographs gleaned from various sources. I do not have one of the village station from my childhood.  (If anyone thinks I have infringed copyright, let me know and I will take the offending photograph out). They are meant to give readers over a certain age a trip back through time to when: trains chugged and whistled, engines emitted clouds of white steam, carriages were divided into compartments with plush covered bench seats in each compartment facing each other (modern train interiors are more like buses), there was an all-pervading smell of coal smoke and there wasn’t a Greggs and a W H Smith at every station.

liverpool(hcc10.1959)central_old11

 

N_Street

 

llanfyrnach(harden_c1950s)old1

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The-W.H.-Smith-bookstall-at-Victoria-Railway-Station-London-January-1924-1280x993

Powys-20150629-05414.jpg Our signal box was like this one.

 

maps

This is partly why we in Britain are sentimental about railways. The two maps show how drastically the number of railway lines was cut in the 1960s.

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Public Transport

First of all, I want to point out that I grew up in a remote part of Wales so my memories will not be the same as many other people’s. I hope there is still plenty for you to identify with and I welcome any contributions.  We had no service buses but the village railway station was a walk of about a mile from our house. Trips to the town (five miles away) when my dad was using the car for work, involved my mum walking up to the station with the three of us to catch the train. We hated the walk because we kids inevitably caused us all to be late leaving the house so it wouldn’t be a walk, more of a route march along the lanes to the station. We loved that station! Although a remote, rural station, it had a full-time station master who was wonderful with kids. The waiting room was always cosy and welcoming and in winter had a coal fire burning. I don’t ever remember waiting on the platform with anybody else or seeing any passengers alight at our stop. Even so,  John the station master kept that station immaculate. The trains were amazing! That smell! Each carriage had several compartments. A sliding door led from the corridor into the compartment.    The only time I went on buses or trams was when we went to stay with friends and relatives in Swansea and Cardiff. I loved the trams with the sparking poles connecting with the overhead wires – apologies for the very un-technical jargon! The buses had conductors, an entrance and exit at the rear and – joy of joys! – a stairway to an upper deck. As children, we thought this was the very best way to travel!