Friday, 6 February 2009

Another Shovelful of Steam

I went back to the Railway Museum last weekend, and invited my mother along. She's 86, and leaps at the chance to go out and about. It's one of those things she misses greatly since my father died, the way he'd say "Let's go somewhere", and take her on a meandering journey interspersed with lunch at some quiet market-town, a stop at an ancient castle, or a stately garden.
So yes, carpe diem is her motto. And she carpe'd with both hands, pausing only to grab her trusty walking stick, scarf, and handbag.

"Do they have any trains from the Great Western Railway?"she asked.
"Of course", was the reply. I directed her toward a great green locomotive, Lode Star, by name.
This loco was built in the Great Western works at Swindon in 1907. At the time when her father, after coming home from the sea, and marrying his sweetheart, was an engineer for the GWR at the Swindon Works.
Near the loco, two museum staff members were working, and she asked them questions about Lode Star.

This locomotive did two million, five thousand eight hundred and ninety-five miles in service before being retired in 1951.


  1. My Mum who is 89 always enjoyed a trip as you describe. Sadly she is not that mobile now. She loves York but more for the minster than the railway museum, thats my domain!

    I enjoyed the photographs too.

  2. My mother loves the Minster too, and York generally. I might post a few pics of other bits of York soon.
    But the Railway Museum, whilst superficially a place for us boys who like mechanical things is much more besides, it's a repository of history, of things which once were commonplace, things which spark reminiscences, my mother kept me fascinated and entertained with stories of other times that she remembers so well.
    I just visited your blog, loved the pictures, made me wish for another visit to Thailand. Greetings from a frozen, snowy Britain!

  3. I love steam locomotives. Very young when phased out in our little town, but good memories of hiding in the ditch at twilight while they rumbled and hissed by just feet away. And putting pennies on the rails for them to squash as they passed. 8 or 9 years old.

  4. Good grief, Relax Max! I thought you'd gone into witness protection, or jail, or perhaps run away to sea....
    Yes, pennies on tracks... I used to do it too. In fact, um, I confess to having done it within the last ten years. A friend was living at a farm that had a rail crossing on its access road, so.. You had to pick up the phone and ask the signalman half a mile up the line for clearance to cross, so whilst waiting for two trains to pass, I put out some pennies in memory of old times. One of them buzzed angrily past my ear. Now I know why my mother always told me it was dangerous and a stupid thing to do. Still, neither dangerous nor stupid has ever stopped me before.
    the other two I retrieved, burningly hot and squished to several diameters larger.
    A pointless activity, but hey, it only costs a penny.
    A year or so ago, the feed truck got stuck on the crossing. Big bang.

  5. Interesting. But not as fascinating, I imagine, as the old steamers crushing it with their awesome drive wheels. New blog is all that is listed on my profile now. We all miss you. Or at least I do. I will resurrect BritishSpeak after I finish some projects. I can handle posting to one blog only right now, and I wanted to not be restricted to subject matter, so I started Clarity2009. It isn't. :)


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