Wellingborough railway station was one of my favorite places to cycle to.
It was just over 60 miles for the round trip so I would have quite a few hours to spend on the station. The attraction was not only the different locomotives running through there, but also the design of the station.
Wellingborough was not a particularly large town and so few trains stopped. It was however on a main line and on a quite sharp curve so the track through the station was banked to allow for high speed trains. The banking was significant to the extent that if one was boarding a train, one had to climb up into the coach. If one was leaving, then an involuntary ejection was quite possible. It was quite steep!
I would be standing on the platform, listening to some birds twittering away up in the roof, and suddenly see a semaphore signal go into a “green” position. A train was coming!
A few moments later, I would hear the distant sound of a 12 cylinder Sulzer diesel (they had their own unique sound*) clearly approaching at speed. It would then come into view, leaning into the curved track, and getting louder by the second. The ground would start reverberating and, within a very short time, the train would come hurtling into the station with exhaust and heat “shimmers” clearly seen above its roof.
Sounding like an army of muffled jack hammers against a background of high speed electric motors, it would pass by me with a deafening roar and follow the curved track through the station until out of sight. Once again it would be possible to hear the birds up in the roof! I loved it!
Occasionally (when I had some money), I would ride a local train from Wellingborough to Kettering and back. The two towns were quite close but it was a nice little train ride! What better way could there possibly have been to spend a Saturday on a nice summer day, or a weekday during a school holiday.
*The diesel engine of the “Peak” Class locomotives was rated at 2500bhp, at a relatively slow speed of 750rpm. This powered a generator which, in turn, provided the electricity for the traction motors. The sound was therefore a combination of that created by the large diesel engine, together with the whine from the electric motors. The combined sound at speed was impressive!