Dear Diary – Page 32 (Late 1950’s – Train Spotting)

For anybody not familiar with train spotting, it consisted of getting a book which contained every number of every locomotive operating in a specific area which, in my case, was the Eastern Region.

As you saw a locomotive, you simply underlined it in the book. To a non-train enthusiast, this would all seem rather pointless however, if you were like me, you would spend many happy hours not only hoping to see locomotives not seen before, but would be absorbing all the sights and sounds of steam locomotives!

Kettering and Wellingborough (which were now within my cycling range) were part of the Midland Region, so a whole different range of locomotives would run through there and dictate me getting an appropriate train spotting book.

1958 MR Book1958 01It’s funny to read the “June 14th 1958” and realize that I would have been 11 years old when I wrote that!

Eventually, I had reasons to have all four books (covering the 4 British Railways Regions) and, as a statement of some authority (?) they were all in a dark blue plastic binder especially made for the job!  I was no ordinary train spotter!

7 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 32 (Late 1950’s – Train Spotting)

  1. Yvonne: The popularity of trainspotting in the UK has been the subject of much discussion. The explanation that I like is that while the Industrial Revolution created giant ships, steam locomotives, industrial machinery (fine yarn spinning machines for textile industry) etc.,, and while all those inventions were awe inspiring, you had to live near the coast to see the ships, and you had to work in a factory to see the mechanization there. There was however a very expansive network of railway lines created across the uk and so just about everybody would regularly see those large, noisy, smoke billowing, locomotives as they went on their journey. It makes sense (to me) that young boys would be drawn to the sights, sounds and smells of railway traffic. When you are 4ft 6ins tall, standing along side a railway line, and a locomotive with 6ft 6ins diameter driving wheels goes hurtling by about 8ft away from you …. it is difficult not to be totally amazed. 🙂


  2. It is only a few weeks ago that Ian Allan died. I progressed to the ‘Combined Volume’ edition after my red cover disintegrated. Unfortunately the steam section shrunk dramatically in the mid 1960’s in each subsequent edition.

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    • It was very common in the UK. Other people were bus spotters, and there were always aircraft spotters at airports. Train spotters not only had special books for the job, but train spotters annuals (books) came out every year. One was always in my Christmas gifts for quite a few years (I still have them)! 🙂

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