As part of the Station Hall redevelopment, I have been working on the Station Stories project, collating the railway memories that the public have submitted. People sent us emails, letters, and lots of story forms and we have also been gathering stories out and about. As the project comes to a close, we have had contact with almost 500 individuals, run outreach sessions with over 400 adults, and generated over 700 stories.
It’s been lovely reading everyone’s anecdotes and recollections and I’ve chosen just a few to share with you here. I thought I’d pick stories about Spring breaks and daytrips. Lots of people have shared with us their memories about going on holiday by rail and taking trips to the beach, including trying to be the first to spot the sea from the train!
I used to come to Scarborough as a child, just for the day at Easter. It was always Easter that we went, when you’d got your new clothes, your new sandals and your new dress. You got on at York, and everybody got on the Scarborough specials. Then, around 5 or 6 o’clock, everybody was going back. There was a long seat at the station and everybody would crowd onto that seat to wait for the train. It was packed on the train, everybody wanted to look out of the window and you got soot in your eyes from the smoke.
We frequently caught the train from Camborne to Hayle and walked a good mile and a half to the ‘three miles of golden sand’, which we would share with a few other intrepid families. The trains we caught in each direction for this very short journey of about 15 minutes were mostly long distance trains. I am afraid some of the travellers who joined the train later in its journey must have found considerable quantities of sand and occasional shells dropped from plastic buckets on the floor of their compartments!
I’ve enjoyed reading tales about the community and social life on the railways, including stories about workers’ outings. In this story, the son of a railwayman recollects a trip to the East Coast.
Engine men tended to be members of St Clements working men’s club. Each year the club organised a children’s trip to Scarborough, always by train. I distinctly remember one year when the club treasurer, himself a driver, organised the kids to queue up alongside the cab of the Class B16 on Scarborough station while he distributed the 2/- piece spending money to each of us from the footplate. Happy days!
As well as travelling on holiday by train, some of you also remember staying in old station buildings or railway carriages.
When I was 11 we took a holiday to Akeld Station in Northumberland, which had been turned into a holiday cottage. One goods train a day still passed through. The Station Master was very friendly and allowed us to operate the signals. Oh the thrill! I can still remember it.
My loveliest memory of a railway station is of Ravenscar in 1964. We stayed in a railway carriage at the end of the platform. We went on the train every day to Scarborough, Whitby, or Bridlington. The children thought it was wonderful. The downside was that the same week we were there the papers had the news that Dr Beeching was putting an end to this beautiful line that ran all the way down the East Coast but we all have wonderful memories of a lovely holiday.
All these stories and the many others that we have collected are soon going to be available for the public to read at Search Engine.