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go back to the last page you were on The lure was the railway station

Smokey

One of the pleasures of the new school was the journey to get there. Possession of a free bus pass (the circle of life: now I have another one) allowed me to jump on and off any bus within set time periods. Any detention after school meant that I walked four miles home. In today's world I would undoubtedly receive counselling after such a blow to self-esteem.

My personal favourite was bus 3 to Courtaulds, then bus 20 to Coventry railway station, followed by a short walk along Warwick Road to the school. The lure was the railway station. It was a Victorian gem. An external courtyard of cobbles lead to a colonnaded area with wrought iron columns supporting a glass roof -- one could easily imagine the horse-drawn vehicles delivering top-hatted passengers for their journey.

Within the small reception area was a wall-mounted hatch for purchase of tickets, through which could be seen gentlemen in waistcoats and a cheery fire. Two large entrance gates to the platform were closed by an ornate wrought-iron grill, and guarded by a moustachioed and portly ticket inspector. Entrance for small boys could be gained by purchase of a penny platform ticket from an adjacent machine.

Essential station furnishings included machines selling 5-Boys chocolate bars, and a machine which stamped characters onto an aluminium strip. It was Victorian dynotape. After inserting the money a large clock hand was rotated to point to the desired character, and a side-mounted lever pulled to make the impression. A maximum of 25 characters was permitted, and a final character selection comprised an instruction to cut the strip. The destination of each train was shown with a rural signpost, which had a single removable arm. This method of public communication must surely have been introduced with the original railway,

Trains were steam hauled. Dirty, yes; noisy, yes; -- but what character. They were living machines. It is easy to impute glamour where none existed, but I'm sure that generations of boys would not have dreamed of being railway workers if the previous generation had been unhappy with that occupation. Whilst waiting the engine driver would walk about with a John Wayne gait, wiping his hands on a greasy cloth.

Good grief! Is that the time? Late again...

Written by Smokey