Monday, 22 August 2016

Keeping On The Rails

We have had lots of fun watching the latest BBC2 series from Ruth,  Alex  and Peter,  entitled Full Steam Ahead
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


  1. My husband loves this series too. Could you tell me how you got the map please?

  2. Our local railway to Fleetwood was closed, to passengers, in the late 60's but still seviced ICI until around the mid 70's (maybe a bit later)
    Now a volunteer group has tided up the tracks and made the stations look pretty whilst they're raising money to eventually reopen the tracks. A few more years to go and a lot of hard work before it happens though.

  3. Only this morning we went on the Llangollen Railway - full-size steam engine with original carriages! a wonderful reminder of travelling to our summer holiday destination - sending on a truck full of our clothes a few days before and it arriving home a few days after we got back.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing information regarding the BBC2 series Full Steam Ahead. I just got thru watching episode 1 on Youtube and plan to watch the remaining episodes.

    Growing up we had coal fires but I didn't remember them being particularly dirty like Ruth spoke of in the program. Perhaps the type of fireplace made a difference.

    The program certainly made me appreciate how slate is mined.

    Thanks again.


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