Those were the days when you heard the whistle sound by the Station Master and there was the familiar smell of the train engines and you saw the ticket collector at the platform gate,wearing his smart railway uniform, who winked at the small children calling out, “Tickets please!” and who having clipped it gave it back to be kept as a momento of the trip.
There too was the station cafe, the newspaper stand, and people rushing to catch the next train and journey on. A seat by the window to watch the countryside rush by in a blur.It’s all very modern these days and no smell of engines or recognisable landmarks from days gone by. The shop are quite posh and favour a more prosperous clientele. People, however, are still in a hurry, all rushing along. But I stop to remember, when back in those days, how exciting it was to be travelling by train.
Arriving at Liverpool Street station and being met by my grandfather, who was a very important person and who like his father before him he has been a Station Master, and very special to me as a very small child. There he would be standing, waiting, glimpsing us and waving, as we arrived from the country into the city of London. He was i think quite tall and with a moustache, pipe hanging from the corner of his mouth and wearing, as he always did, a tweedy jacket that had seen better days I suspect, and a big grin on his face, as we ran to greet him.
Scurrying along to follow him, we marched up steep steps across the platform bridge, peering down from on high at the trains on the tracks far below, and further along to the long flight of steps up and outside and into the streets of London. He would hail a lovely shiny black hackney carriage, and I (being the smallest) sat on the little pull-down seat, as off to grandfathers house we went.
Those memories are infinitely precious to me, the years have flown by and he is long gone now. I still have his Station Masters whistle, given to me on one of those iconic visits. I had especially asked to keep it to remember him by.
The Acme Thunderer