Tag Archives: railways

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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Teeside Airport – UK’s least used railway station

Just eight people used Teesside Airport railway station in a year – helping it keep its title as the UK’s least used.

The single-figure total for the 12 months to March 2013 has emerged in new Government passenger figures.

And the dismal performance was even worse than the previous year, when only 14 passengers used the airport link.

The station has just two Northern Rail services on each Sunday – the minimum required by law to avoid formal closure.

So remote and underused is the platform that even the Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) website ignores the station less than a mile from the terminal and claims that: “Darlington Train Station is the nearest train station to Durham Tees Valley Airport, located just 7 miles away.”

The Peel Group, which owns the majority of DTVA shares said it would “welcome” improvements to the station.

Peel Group’s strategic planning director, Peter Nears, said: “It has been recognised for a long time that, while the rail line is in close proximity to the airport, the current halt is not suitable and we are aware that there are proposals to include a new station as part of plans to improve local rail services.

“Implementing improvements is, of course, a matter for Network Rail and the local transport bodies and we would very much welcome early progress.”

The low usage, revealed by Office of Rail Regulation, comes after the airport was hit by falling passenger numbers.

Just 161,092 people passed through the terminal in 2013 compared with 900,000 at its peak in 2006. But it since suffered the loss of various flights, including its London link.

A Northern Rail spokeswoman said: “The service which calls at Teesside Airport station is one which is specified in our franchise agreement.

“The line between Darlington and Middlesbrough has attracted a growing number of passengers over recent years. However Teesside Airport station on the route, has not enjoyed the same success.

“We support proposals to relocate the station, as part of the wider Tees Valley Metro development, to better serve the needs of passengers.

“We are already working with partners involved on initial stages of the scheme including the opening of a new station at The James Cook University Hospital and improvements at other stations on the route.”

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette  10 May 2014

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