May 31, 2014

THE AGE OF STEAM

Steam trains have always fascinated me, which is lucky considering the number of Sundays and Bank Holidays we spent visiting steam railways up and down the country as a family.  My dad was very much into steam and in fact has built several his own steam engines in his garden shed.  Models of course!

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So on Bank Holiday Monday, after our trip to the Well Dressings, we headed off through the Derbyshire villages to somewhere where we knew we would be able to get a cup of tea - the buffet car on platform two of the railway station at Wirksworth.

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Unlike in France, dogs are rarely allowed in restaurants and caf├ęs in the UK, so we took our steaming mugs of tea and sheltered from the drizzly rain on the platform.

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The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is one of the many railway societies up and down the country run by volunteers and donations.  It operates a mainly tourist service along a few miles of line between Wirksworth and Duffield which is very popular.  You can read all about it here.

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When I was a little girl in the 1950’s we often travelled by steam train, regularly getting the bus to Cromford station and then the train to Derby for a day out shopping.  When my dad was in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm the steam train from Cromford would be the first stage in very long journeys by rail to Scotland or Northern Ireland to the Naval base.  We lived in the “married quarters” near to the base.

The railway station at Cromford was also a favourite destination for me and my male cousins to go on our bicycles in the school holidays, messing about on the platform and standing on the footbridge as the trains came and went, tolerated by the station manager, so long as we didn’t get in the way.

In my twenties I was a member of the Middleton Railway Society near Leeds and actually got to ride the footplate and assist in driving shunting engines – as close as I would ever get to driving a steam engine by myself!

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So it was on platform one at Wirksworth that I had to go and “spend a penny”.  Otherwise known as “going to the ladies”.  The original ladies loo would often be engaged and a queue would form at busy times hence the following little notice fixed to the old post box.

day out in Derbyshire

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