Friday, July 31, 2009

Waving at trains

As a train enthusiast, I rather enjoy living where I do. Although Wamphray no longer has a station (really it DID, a long time ago), the West Coast Main Line passes close to Skip. It's close enough for me to see what's going up and down, but just far away that any noise is minimal. If you are on the train, and if you know where to look, you can see Skip flash by for a second or so on your journey.

I have friends who also like trains. One of these, who should probably remain anonymous, takes great delight in phoning when he is about to pass... and we wave to each other! I'm not sure what my neighbours think, not to consider what the other passengers on the train make of it all. Anyway, I was outside on the road waving away yesterday and two memories jumped into the forefront of my mind.

The brain is indeed a wonderful organ. These two memories have been hidden away on the hard drive for many, many years, and it is a wonder indeed that they should suddenly pop up on the screen, when triggered.

Anyway, the first was a story that I was told in the 70s by my Aunt Jenny and Uncle John who lived in Dumbarton. Their home sat alongside the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Junction Railway. My sister stayed with them during World War 2 as a little girl, round about the time of the Clydebank Blitz, it being thought safer than home in Glasgow. Apparently she used to enjoy standing in the back garden waving to the trains as they passed. The drivers got used to seeing her, and would give a blast on the whistle. It seems too that some coal would mysteriously appear beside the line near the house after certain trains passed. Coincidence? Or a kindly fireman making sure that a little girl and her family stayed warm during a difficult time? I wonder.

(This railway line closed when the parallel Helensburgh line was electrified. Remember the 'Blue trains'? There a marvellous collection of photographs of the Glasgow Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway here.)

The second memory was of an embarrassing incident that happened to me when I was a teenager in the early 1960s. The Bungalow Cafe sat on the bridge over the Paisley Canal line. I used to frequent this establishment often, it being on the road home from school. The nearby Pollok Estate park was the local adventure playground!

Anyway, a young lady of my acquaintance and I made an escape from the larger group of friends late one afternoon and had found our way round the back of the cafe, on to the railway embankment, for what can best be described as a 'kiss and a cuddle', which was pretty much all than happened in 1961-2! It was quiet and secluded, and we were unlikely to be disturbed.

That is, until the 5.10 pm out of St Enoch for Paisley Canal passed by on the line! I don't know how many of my neighbours who had been on the train told my mother what her son had been doing in full public gaze that afternoon. Ah well, it could have been worse! Needless to say, courting was not carried out in the open air on railway embankments in the years that followed.

(The Paisley Canal line was run down after Beeching and closed completely in 1983, but part of the line was re-opened in 1990. There is even a new station at Dumbreck! Lots of pics here, including some of the old sheds at Corkerhill where my interest in trains was first ignited.)

Can you see Copey waving, as he passed last night?


  1. What's worrying is that as a 20 year old, even i know of the Beeching Report.

    It may just be because I like trains though!


  2. I'll "Virgin" you, Mr Law!

    Aye young Hibby - but did not the Beeching report do for trains to your neck of the woods? I seem to remember a story about the older Jamieson brothers taking a local train that connected to another train, that connected to another train that took them to Crossmyloof?

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