They have been looking at the way the development of the railways changed life in Britain. It has been a super series - just one programme left on Thursday (but you can always catch up on i-player) Ruth, who has a somewhat bizarre wardrobe, remains her enthusiastic self. The two blokes banter away happily and work hard as ever, shovelling coal, sorting mail and learning old crafts. The Open University is giving away an informative double-sided map to accompany the show. Mine arrived last week.
The thing I am sad about is that the closure of so many of our branch lines in the 60s was such a short-sighted decision. When we moved to Dereham in 1965, the trains ran regularly to Swaffham, carrying goods and passengers (and all the Grammar School boys - and the Swaffham girls came to Dereham to the Girls' High) Mr Cocker, from our church operated the signal box. I went with Dad to visit him there and he showed me all the levers.
It has taken all this time for the volunteer enthusiasts to restore the track and rolling stock. I know there's much fuss at the minute about the inefficiency of passenger trains - but railways are safer than roads and better for the environment. Dr Beeching has a lot to answer for. But many forget that the real culprit was minister of transport, Ernest Marples, who went further than Dr B recommended and destroyed track beds as well as closing stations.
Still, we did get a gentle song from Flanders and Swann out of it, mentioning my beloved Kirby Muxloe!
UPDATE - Sorry, I forgot to post the link to the OU page where you can order the free map - click here