Dear Diary – Page 51 (Early 1960’s – Wellingborough)

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 β€œgreen” 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!

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15 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 51 (Early 1960’s – Wellingborough)

  1. Out here, there is a little town of Union, Illinois, where the Illinois Railway Museum resides. All kinds of antique and some current engines live there, as well as omnibuses and streetcars! My young human loves to go there and spend the day (it is quite far from us) riding the rails. Often they have a brass band playing. It’s really a nice day out, especially with the Big Boy steam engine running. I think you would love it. Woof!

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  2. I used to love hanging my head over the bridge in Poole High Street as the train passed underneath. Nothing like the smell from a steam engine.
    Although I enjoyed a train ride, I was always nervous getting out as I could never manage to open the window in order to put my hand out to unlock the door!

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      • Ah, from what I remember it was a metal bar like in the fire escapes that you had to hit just right for it to operate. I honestly don’t remember a leather strap. Oh blimey, I knew I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the box, but it would appear I was blunter than a spoon as well! Oh Colin, I hang my head in shame and embarassment! 😦

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        • Certainly through 50’s and into the 60’s there was a leather strap which was attached to the bottom of the window somehow. The strap had holes in it at regular intervals and the inside of the door (facing you) had a little “pin” kind of thing which went through one of the holes in the strap (same principle a waist belt and buckle). One could pull the strap off its pin; lower the window a little by putting another strap hole over the pin. Alternatively, you could lower the window completely, and then reach out and around to the handle to unlock the door! Just remember all this because you may one day ride a preserved railway line running 50’s and 60’s carriages! πŸ™‚

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