The last departure

In a hazy evening sunlight, Black 5 No 45407, with the 17.10 Whitby – Pickering service, plods away from Goathland. Everyone knows that this is a modern day photograph, not because the engine is clean and shiny but, because that air of fading neglect is no longer there. In the Britain of the 50s and 60s the worn out, tired and dilapidated, extended beyond the engine, the stations were dirty, unstaffed and unpainted, signal boxes, goods yards and sidings closed, the buildings in them showing signs of vandalism; this was the railway landscape in those first decades after WWII. No heritage railway, in its right mind, would dream of recreating this aspect of 1950s  / 60s BR.

It’s true that recreations go so far as to deliberately ‘weather’ locomotives’, however, they don’t cut the water supply to the station toilets, smash and board up several windows in the waiting room, and strip the paint from the rest.  Just for good measure they could remove all the glazing from the platform canopy and  pull the hoses off the water columns, for that ‘authentic 1960s’ appearance. Behind the scenes things were worse not better, cuts to shed staff left many shed yards and ash pits a risk to life and limb, and nothing was spent on building maintenance, even finding basic equipment became a task. Of course no one wants to bring this aspect of post-war Britain back, why would they?

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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