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Rail history- a bit of help required

Doing a bit of research for a book and could do with a bit of help with the context. As you’re all trainspotters, I thought CL would be a perfect source of information:-)

Does anyone know what train services would have been like between London and Stranraer in about 1956?

Any first hand memories, or second hand from rail enthusiasts would be greatly appreciated. The sort of information that would help:

cost compared to other things at that time
duration
route - changes, connections
class of travel options (particularly cheaper)
facilities
furnishings
noises/smells/sights

Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • From 1952-1966 The Northern Irishman ran nightly from Euston, leaving at 19.10 and arriving at Stranraer to connect with the 07:00 ferry.

    In 1960 the supplement for a compartment was about £2.   Which contained a small wash basin as well as 2 single bunk beds, probably a toilet at each end of each coach.  

    I would imagine that in 1956 luxury would be in short supply. 
  • This may be useful, as additional background at least-

    https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/last-stranraer-sleeper.120521/
  • Thanks both. Good start points.
  • Brilliant @CatfordCat Just what I was looking for. Thanks.
  • Cloudworm said:
    Brilliant @CatfordCat Just what I was looking for. Thanks.
    Why? Started a thread on HOF yet?
  • Addickted said:
    Cloudworm said:
    Brilliant @CatfordCat Just what I was looking for. Thanks.
    Why? Started a thread on HOF yet?
    Er....no. I’m not a member, but do you think they’d be able to help?
  • Sponsored links:


  • @FiveGoalSummers

    That’s brilliant FGS. Copy coming your way if I ever finish it! Thank you.
  • Not the overnight journey you are interested in, but I still remember aspects of my first long distance train journey, Paddington to Torquay, in 1956.

    Before that, and for some years after, I only have memories of travelling on the 3rd rail electrified trains from St Mary Cray to London, where the carriages were either a series of completely separate compartments, each with an outside door, or the corridor design illustrated earlier in this thread, but no route from one carriage to the next.  (And no loo either!) 

    Back then the (probably entirely pre-war) rolling stock was often in a very run down state. Sagging lumpy seats, dirty or torn upholstery, dangling emergency cords, broken overhead luggage nets were all common sights, and carriage windows were often either fully open or tight shut, because the thick broad leather straps designed to secure them in intermediate positions had been nicked - apparently they made excellent strops for cut-throat razors, which were then still quite popular.  During the holiday season, when additional trains were run to holiday destinations, reserve rolling stock was used which was generally even older and tattier than normal (shades of the old "football specials"!)

    This journey to Devon was my first experience of walking the length of a train inside - and a frightening experience it was for a young child! But a silver service meal had been booked in the dining car, so there was no turning back.

    The flexible connection between coaches was a bellows design, and in that era of post-war austerity there were rips in the (leather? canvas?) bellows through which I could glimpse the countryside rushing past.  On straight stretches, as the train picked up speed, it would start "hunting" - bouncing from side to side between the rails.  This had been uncomfortable when in the corridor of the carriage as it threw me from left to right, but the apparent flimsiness of the bellows gave me visions of being bounced through them and out of the train!

    Even worse was under foot, where a rusty plate projecting from each carriage overlapped,  clattering and squeaking as they ground over eachother when the train went round bends or over uneven track at points.  Some of these plates actually had slzable holes rusted through them, through which the ballast and sleepers were visible below.  My father had recently undergone a spinal operation, so there was no way he could lift me across these scarey obstacles!  

    A visit to the less-than-pristine loo did nothing to settle my nerves - the hinged metal plate in the bottom of the pan was stuck half open, and a full gale assaulted my bum as I sat down.  As someone described earlier, the "effluent" emptied straight onto the track.

    The family got its first car within months, so that was my last long distance train journey for many years - until as a 14 year old I travelled alone from London to Munich to stay with my German penfriend.   That, however, is another story.
  • As a very young child we used to get the boat train to Fishguard from Paddington to go home for a holiday.
    Anyway bored at the station we used to get a penny or ha’penny to use a huge elaborate machine to create a metal strip with writing on. I seem to remember you clicked round a large dial with letters on until they were adjacent with an arrow, then pressed a lever or something. You got so many letters for your penny.
    Did I dream this?
  • seth plum said:
    As a very young child we used to get the boat train to Fishguard from Paddington to go home for a holiday.
    Anyway bored at the station we used to get a penny or ha’penny to use a huge elaborate machine to create a metal strip with writing on. I seem to remember you clicked round a large dial with letters on until they were adjacent with an arrow, then pressed a lever or something. You got so many letters for your penny.
    Did I dream this?
    Every amusement arcade had these machines. One old penny to print out your name i recall.
  • No you didn't dream it. It was a real thing.



    (Sorry, couldn't resist. I know it makes me a bad mod.)
  • Found a picture!


  • Before 1965 there were trains direct from Dumfries to Stranraer along a now-closed line, which is also the route the sleepers will have taken, rather than going up to Glasgow and back down via Ayr as the trains do now. Dr Beeching did for that one.
  • edited November 16
    Always willing to assist a fellow author. Here's a bit of background information to set the scene. As a youngster I was a frequent traveller by rail in the 1950s. The London mainline termini I knew best were Victoria, Waterloo and Paddington. These 'cathedrals of steam' were fascinating places. In the middle of the decade before mass car ownership and motorways nearly everyone heading out of London for the provinces took the train.

    Most of the passengers were well dressed by today's standards! As for the ladies, just about every female you knew wore a skirt, so no trousers, tattoos, bangle earrings or extravagant make up. The blokes kept to a very conservative style. Tweed or sporting jackets were popular. Only when the weather was very warm did you see people tieless with an open neck shirt. As for the boys, short trousers were de rigueur, even in winter. School caps were commonly worn; they came in different colours with the badge of the educational establishment you attended. Girls favoured a school beret or a straw boater in summer. So, when you went on a journey you dressed for the occasion.

    If you had luggage you let a porter take the strain. I can't recall any suitcases on wheels in those days. You usually tipped the porter a shilling (5p).

    After buying your ticket and before entering the platform, many folk purchased a magazine or newspaper from the W.H.Smith kiosk. The layout of the train carriages you probably know by riding on the many heritage lines in the UK. Smoking compartments were usually well patronised. My mum used to smoke Churchman's A (advertised as 'good for your throat!!), while my grandad kept to his trusty pipe, filled as I recall with a tobacco mixture marketed as Dover Shag!! 

    Unaccompanied children were usually put in the care of the guard. On one trip from Paddington to Wolverhampton my dad tipped the guard half a crown (two shillings and sixpence...just over 12p) to make sure I was OK on the journey and that I alighted at the correct station. In his compartment at the rear of train, sometimes relief locomotive crews would hold court. Drivers and firemen would take some rest before their next shift. These conversations with the guard should go down in working class history, because the job of driving and firing especially was bloody hard work!

    One more thing, if you counted the number rail beats in 45 seconds you could tell what speed you were going (before welded track became standard).

    Good luck with the book.
     
    Fascinating stuff FGS.  A year or so ago I met somebody who had driven the Flying Scotsman and he told us that each loco has it's own distinct sound as the wheels rattled over the tracks so much so that there were those drivers who could identify the engine by the sound it made on the tracks.


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