In the late 50s/early 60s, when I was a boy, car ownership was much less prevalent than now. We were in the majority: we didn’t have a car. This meant that holidays and days out were usually taken by train. Of course, this was part of every little boy’s dream in those days: when we grew up we wanted to be Casey Jones. I am old enough to remember the noise and mess of steam trains, before diesel and electric power came along. It was fabulous!
Since I retired I have been rearranging my flat and have got to the stage where I want to put something on the walls to brighten them up: it’s a rented flat with plain painted walls which need something. At present, I don’t have a car, so have been using trains to get around. As nostalgia started to take hold I remembered the posters that decorated stations and platforms back then, and have decided to get a few of those. If you’re too young to have seen them in the flesh, as it were, you have missed out! So I’m filling the gap for you!
I just had to start with that one of Dover, as it is my home town and the first place from which I ever rode a train. I can’t honestly say I remember that actual poster, but no doubt it would have been on display back then. London has been a major part of my adult life, both for work and entertainment, so I thought I’d show you one from there. But there are so many! This one took my fancy, not because it is especially attractive but because it really is a period piece. My experience of the Central Line is nowhere near as positive – ‘Invigorating’ is not the word I’d use to describe the daily commute!
It’s interesting to me to find this poster advertising Epping Forest as a destination for your day out by train, as there are more Underground than rail stations within range of the Forest. Still, what’s wrong with a little artistic licence! And it is a lovely poster, so typical of the time.
When I first started working in London, in 1975, I used Liverpool Street station. In those days, before its major redevelopment, it was in two parts connected by a covered walkway. This poster reminds me of those days, as there was a large sign on the wall of that walkway which proclaimed ‘Harwich for the Continent’ and pointed the way to the trains. The wall underneath was regularly inscribed ‘And Frinton for the incontinent,’ until it was cleaned off the wall for the next joker to have a go. (For those who don’t know, Frinton is a rather genteel town on the Essex coast, with a high concentration of retired residents.)
My final choice for you is a place to which I’ve only ever been once before. It may therefore seem a strange choice, but Skegness is a typical old style English resort, known particularly for the strength of the wind blowing in off the North Sea. This makes it a good example of the range of posters displayed in those days, and I’m going there again in a couple of weeks – by train! But more of that nearer the time.
I’ve enjoyed this little jaunt down memory lane – I hope you have too.