While we were looking after Generation +2 [Gdau.I & Gdau.II] in Bath last week, I escaped to visit Generation -1 [m'Mother] for lunch. It turns out that there is a direct pootle-pootle train from Gloucester to Weymouth via Bristol and Bath and a clatter of towns and villages along the way. Several of the stops, including Chetnole Halt (my mother's gaff), are Request Only. That means you have to tell the train conductor if on the train or wave your hat, shooting-stick or handkerchief at the train driver if on the platform. It would all be more internally consistent if the engine ran on steam <choot choot> and the kids on the train looked like Alice O'Wonderland or The Railway Children. Because England is not, quite yet, a Fascist state, the trains don't run on time, so I had a long time on the platform at Chetnole Halt and read all the information posters twice. Including this wholly unnecessary advice " In adverse weather conditions please take extra care ". Not Dreadnought Me: when the stairs are really icy, I can get to the platform faster by sliding past the competition.
In 1961 The Transport Minister appointed Dr Richard Beeching as chairman of the British Railways Board. Beeching commissioned and published a report The Reshaping of British Railways that recommended the closure of 6,000km of rail track and more than 2,000 stations that couldn't pay their way even with a hefty government subsidy. There were train services running in 1960 where there were often more railway staff aboard than fare paying passengers. This was 20 years before 'everybody' owned a car and a far greater proportion of people were reliant on public transport to get to work or get to the shops. I was the only person who a) got off the down train at that station and a few hours later boarded the up train. Given that Chetnole Halt survived the Beeching holocaust of steel, the closed stations must have been very dusty indeed.
far from the madding crowd [Thos. Hardy, local author, reference] of cars and buses. Like this adult roe deer Capreolus capreolus [R] picking its way delicately across the rails from one nirvana of browsable bushes to the greener one on the other side of the tracks. Eventually, the train arrived. Just after Bruton the conductor came round handing out 'free' 330ml bottles of GWR water to the passengers; some of whom were wilting in the heat. The train was 22 minutes behind schedule when I got off in Bath. One announcement claimed that the the train was delayed because the heat was melting the tracks. I tell ya, lads, 'tis The End of Days.