Some of the figures in this photo appear to be engrossed in thought, ‘trains of thought’. Strangely, even now, in the 21st century, our everyday language is littered with railway references, from the steam age of the 19th and mid 20th century. There’s the approbation of the, ‘wrong side of the tracks’, the expectation of, ‘building up a head of steam’, the threat of being, railroaded, the connotations of greed and corruption inherent in ‘the gravy train’, and ‘hitting the buffers’ when caught out riding the gravy train, or letting off steam, and I’m sure you can add more of your own tales to that one!
Trains of thought has an almost philosophical turn, metaphysical musings on the everyday nature of consensual reality, you might say. Of course they could also be as mundane as, ‘what will we have for dinner’, or ‘did I turn the gas off’! I thought it was an interesting mix of figures, both railwaymen and travelers; a wet morning with puddles still on the edge of the platform and the damp air causing the steam to cling to the side of the engine, which had been slipping, badly, as it tried to pull its train clear of the siding at Oakworth.
Oakworth, the Railway Children’s station, an icon of British cinema and railway movies. Gas lit and with a waiting room which boasts a coal fire in the winter months, Oakworth is still in the last decade of the 19th century / 1st decade of the 20th, a Star Trek time-warp to another life-style.
Everyone on the station, apart from the young boy in the foreground, is watching the approaching train. I thought how different a picture this was from my own boyhood when the boy would have been watching the train and the adults looking elsewhere. The train end of the platform is lit by the late evening sun – a rose tinted view, whilst the crossing end of the platform, where the young boy stands, is already falling into shadow. The younger generation, who will emerge from our shadows, have their eyes on other things – the steam locomotives of our boyhood are low on the list of their enjoyable pastimes.