With safety valves lifting and cylinder cocks open ‘Twizell’ makes a very steamy exit from Andrews House Station, on the Tanfield Railway, with the first train of the day, last Sunday. For me, ‘steamy exit’ is, forever, linked with the now defunct newspaper, the News of the World, and the phrase, ‘our reporter made a hurried excuse and left’.
In the 1960s, when the ‘Profumo ‘call girl’ scandal’ was at its height, I was a fireman at 70A Nine Elms where one of the turns I enjoyed was the 02.45a.m. ‘paper train’ – the return working for which was an ‘up fast’ passenger working. To cut to the chase, as they say; on one memorable occasion, amongst the passengers on our train, were the naughty girls themselves, Mandy Rice Davis, and Christine Keeler, and not a News of the Screws reporter in sight.
Like the News of the World, the paper trains have long since disappeared, which is a shame, though there was little shame to be found amongst the journalists who so ‘hastily left’. Probably, the first ‘paper train’ was run by George Hudson, the Railway King, in 1845. The specially chartered train brought copies of The Times, which carried the news of his election victory, from London to Sunderland, where he’d just been elected MP. The famous station book stall company, WH Smith, began ‘paper train’ trials a couple of years later, sending newspapers, by rail, from London to Scotland in 1847 and again 1849, their success may be judged from the fact that the newspaper trains went on to became a staple of railway income for many years thereafter.
If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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