Tag Archives: America

First recorded trainspotter was a 14-year old girl

It may come as a shock to most people’s preconceptions – but it seems the very first trainspotter belonged to an age when the anorak hadn’t even been heard of.

In fact the modern stereotype of a true ‘spotter couldn’t be further from the origins of the oft-maligned hobby, according to research by experts at the National Railway Museum.

As the York museum prepares for a special Trainspotting season, its team has come across a reference to a trainspotter that dates back as far as 1861.

 And the person who was recording locomotive numbers as they passed a station in London, was not a man clad in an anorak, but a teenage girl named Fanny Johnson.

The 14-year-old’s notebook about Great Western locos passing Westbourne Park station in 1861, is referenced in a 1935 article in the GWR magazine, and is the earliest evidence found to date of trainspotting, the collecting of locomotive numbers.

Associate curator Bob Gwynne said: “This is exciting because trainspotting is perceived largely to be a 20th century hobby for men, although railway enthusiasm has existed as long as the railways itself.

“This mention of a notebook titled ‘Names of Engines on the Great Western that I have Seen’ turns this stereotype on its head.”

 He added: “The hobby of taking numbers is often thought to originate with the ‘ABC books’ first printed in 1942. However it is clear that ‘spotting certainly started much earlier than that. We would just love it if someone had Fanny Johnson’s journal and was prepared to show it to us.”

The researchers came across the reference in advance of the museum’s Trainspotting season, which will run from September 26 to the beginning of March.

It will explore what was once a very common hobby. Among those involved is Yorkshire-based poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan.

Trains are my second home and my office space, my thinking room and my window on the world, so I’m really happy to be associated with this wonderful project,” he said.

With trainspotting being firmly lodged in the nation’s psyche as an activity for men clutching notebooks on station platforms, the museum plans to challenge people’s perceptions through a full programme of events and activities.

A new art commission by acclaimed artist Andrew Cross will use a blend of personal and archival material, revealing trainspotting histories which “connect time, place and memory” while a major new filmwork will feature footage from the UK, America and mainland Europe.

Source – Northern Echo,  27 Aug 2014


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Almanac – July 20th

356 BC – Alexander the Great, Macedonian king born.
Alexander was tutored by Aristotle until the age of 16. By the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas. He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history’s most successful commanders. And dead by the age of 32.

1893 –  George Llewelyn Davies born.  Said to be the model for Peter Pan in J.M Barrie’s 1904 play  Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.  Unlike his alter ego, he died aged 21 of a gunshot to the head in World War I.

1923 – Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary, assassinated by  a group of seven riflemen who  appeared in the middle of the road and fired over 40 shots into the automobile carrying Villa.  In the fusillade of shots, Villa was hit by 9 Dumdum bullets in his head and upper chest, killing him instantly. He was found in the driver seat of the car, with one hand reaching for his gun.

A strange coincidence (or maybe not) coinsidering the Peter Pan link with this date, but…

1930“Many hundreds of boys are perched in trees throughout the United States,” it was reported.

“…and this mania for endurance sitting is ravaging some towns. At Camden, New Jersey, no fewer than 104 boys are living in tree tops, some declaring their intention not to descend until winter.”

One lad in Kansas had been aloft for 230 hours. Another, in New Orleans, asked a priest to conduct a tree-sitting Mass, but fell before it could be done. A number of boys had been injured in falls. Emergency by-laws had failed to stamp out the unexplained new craze.

1945 – French poet,  essayist, and philosopher  Paul Valery died.  Born Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry, his interests were sufficiently broad that he can be classified as a polymath. In addition to his poetry and fiction (drama and dialogues) and aphorisms on art, history, letters, music, and current events, he also wrote many misanthropic diatribes on human nature.

1960 – Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected the World’s first woman prime minister in Ceylon [now Sri Lanka].

1969 – Men landed on the Moon for the first time…or was it faked in a film studio ?

1973 – Bruce Lee died.  Born Lee Jun-fan;  a Chinese- American Hong Kong actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, founder of Jeet Kune Do, and the son of Cantonese opera actor Lee Hoi-Chuen. He is widely considered by many commentators, critics, media and other martial artists to be the greatest and most influential martial artist of all time, a  pop culture icon of the 20th Century, and often credited with changing the way Asians were presented in American films. Like Alexander the Great at the top of this page, he died aged 32.

1977 – The CIA in America  releases documents under the Freedom of Information Act revealing it had engaged in mind control experiments.

Mr. Frankenstein


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