I came across this gem of a video on YouTube which started me off on a journey down memory lane.
Although I never knowingly saw the steam era as I came into this world on this day, in the year it was phased out and lived in a region where electric commuter trains had long been running the bulk of railway services. The fascination and romance had sown its seed though. Maybe subconsciously but it was there. Now I know the reality as told by my parents and grandparents was a different tale but still I can’t help think that I would have enjoyed being one of those kids who bunked off school to watch the trains rush by, or be standing on platforms as trains strained there weight away to far flung regions. For the record I never really collected numbers as I was more interested in watching trains go by. Even to this day it’s more about the experience than the detail. Not saying collecting numbers is bad, lets face it humans seemed designed to collect things! But for me it’s just the roar of a passing train. The sights and smells of a steam train on a heritage railway. Or the well observed layout at a model railway show.
What about the video then? Well not only is it a snapshot of a time long forgotten. But also a record of a railway near to my childhood. I long dreamed of being able to explore the Settle to Carlisle route which is in that region. With its rugged scenery and remote stations that I had long read about. As a youngster though I had no way of attaining this goal due to the inability to get my self about to these far flung quarters. In fact to date I still haven’t managed to ride the illustrious S&C Railway. Maybe once this global event has passed I will finally manage to put a tick on the list.
But this video also gives little detail at its fringes that a photo could never do. I know I have said previously that I now try to take the periphery as well as the focus. As I know that is what will be interesting to me and hopefully others in the future. There is no excuse with modern tech to now be able to make a reasonable record of the passing of time. Looking at the video though it’s always been an idle thought of mine that had Beeching not slashed his red pen through the map of Britain’s railway lines in the 60s and some forward thinking minds had kept the idea of goods transport links alive. Could we now have had a more goods by rail. Probably not. But doesn’t harm to let the mind wander. In fact if one wants to go really left field, how about a modern day narrow gauge system. Much like the Swiss system that I so admire. But that is really pushing it and very off topic.
I love the fact that there are little trains. Contrary to popular opinion (probably!) I love the little local goods trains. Most of these images were taken at the end of the railway boom and the steam era and were on the whole hanging on for grim life. But they did serve remote communities that survived on goods shipments for their livelihoods in many cases. The internal combustion engine was now in the ascendancy. Road travel and transport was seen to be much quicker, cheaper and just more sexy. Just look at the the Mini adverts from the 60s.
But I love these little finds and the mental journeys it can set me off on. Just not to get sucked too far down the rabbit hole. There’s something quaint about the 16mm footage that makes one realise how spoilt we are now with the technology in our pockets. The fact you knew you had limited resources and that timing really mattered. In this day and age of “all you can eat” it sometimes is all too easy to lose concentration.
I wonder what it will be from this age that is left for prosperity.