Monthly Archives: June 2015

Going with a bang and salvaging things.

Back in what many refer to as the good old days, but in reality back in the depths of the past where your memory is very selective things were very different.

Take for example paperwork, back in the days before computers were in use all records were done manually and the railways had a network of people who’s sole task was to do manual records of everything and shovel round vast amounts of paperwork for, in some cases little more than a pittance doing basically the same job year in and year out. I sometimes wonder how often this vast mountain of paper was actually looked at after it had been filed somewhere.

Anyway, I think we can almost all agree that the railway was thorough in keeping vast amounts of manual records. Here are a couple of things dealing with explosives. One is a form to fill in and the other is a wall sign. These days I can’t help but think that the form would be filled out on a computer, signed and copies sent to every person in the office that had a pulse.

100_1709  100_1711


These days were are slowly becoming a nation that recycles stuff, but in many cases we are also still a throwaway nation, especially with things like electronics.

Back in the 1940’s when the country was at war the encouragement was to waste nothing that could be used again. Many people for that era still to this day save things and reuse things as much as they can if only from force of habit. But for the vast majority these days the era of darning socks and turning shirt collars have long gone.

Here is a poster from The LNER in 1942 encouraging salvage, and promoting the ethos of not throwing stuff out.

100_1723Now that’s known as doing things properly.

You ask old railwaymen and some will give you tales of the ash from coal fires being sieved to sort out bits that could be put back on the fire. My own grandfather did exactly this at home in the late 1950’s. In offices you would, when your pencil got short be issued with a metal tube that fitted over the end so you could use it for longer. People had been bought up to use things for as long as possible then try where possible after extending the life for as long as possible to perhaps put the item to another use.

So should you be old enough what do you remember about saving stuff and reusing or extending it’s life?




It should be a running day today.

Today should be a running day, after all we have had high winds, heavy showers of rain and hail. Just the weather to run a service!

This past weekend was mixed with rain on the Saturday.

Certainly this year the weather is not doing us any favours, it’s been very mixed and not always warm, this has affected the number of visitors to my station, the locals don’t often come out when it’s dull or damp and cool.

We are half way just gone through our running year and it would be complementing it to say it’s been average. It certainly won’t at the present time go down as an excellent year, but all we can do is make the best of what we have and make sure the visitors we do have go away happy and feel they have had good value for money.

That’s what it’s down to really, giving visitors good value for money, at least when it’s quiet we can spend more time chatting to the visitors we do have, and that can only be looked on as good. As I have written before we don’t sell a tangible product we only sell memories. We need to make sure that those memories are good ones.

Now a closing observation from me… What are some of the rudest people I get in the station members, some lack the ability to say please or thank you, they seem to think because they are a member they own the place. I detest bad manners, they show a lack of consideration for others. Having said that of course the majority of members we get in are great and interesting to talk to, it’s just a shame that a few rude ones seem to overshadow the majority of nice ones. Answers in pencil please on the back of used ten pound notes.

Looking at the past in the future.

As those who follow this blog or who work on the railway are hopefully aware I have been photographing a private collection of railway bits, some of which you can see in previous posts.

Now this activity has actually got me thinking about storing this information and it’s longevity.

We humans are now storing more and more stuff relating to our daily activities, such as pictures and videos. It has been said that in a thousand years or so archaeologists will have more records of this period in history than any that has gone before. But will that actually be true.

Most stuff we store is on hard drives, CD/DVD’s and the like, but we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions.

1. How long will these storage devices hold our files without deteriorating?
2. In say a thousand years will we have anything to read these devices with?

Let’s take the first question, CD/DVD’s for example do not have an infinite life span, the technology is over 40 years old and many of the discs have deteriorated. I had some CD games a few years ago and the silver coating was flaking off the plastic disc it was attached to. I do believe some archives are looking at their electronically stored files and re-copying them.

In answer to the second question, let’s take for example a Phillips N1500 video tape, in it’s day it was popular, it was first available in 1972. Now if you are clutching one of these tapes in your sticky little hand, perhaps you found it when clearing out a relatives loft, how are you going to play it? I am sure there are the odd machines still about, but it would be difficult I expect to find one locally. This being the case I would guess that in another 40 years it will be impossible to find one working. Those that have been preserved will fail either mechanically or electronically at some stage. Electronics wise, will components be available to replace those that have failed, my guess is that the answer will be no.

Without going on and on what I am saying is that basically we are saving stuff on devices that either have a limited (in terms of many years) life span, or they will in years to come be unreadable anyway due to lack of equipment. This means that we could either loose the records through decay or loose them simply because we will have no means of reading the data that is stored.

Now I know what your thinking, you’re thinking I am perhaps being a bit dramatic and perhaps I am but in response I will say that I have here a 5 ¼ inch floppy disk, I wonder what percentage of people have a computer with a drive in it that can read the disk? My guess is less than five percent. I can remember using them less than 20 years ago.

This brings me to the conclusion that the best way to preserve digital images and documents is to actually print them and store the paper copies in a controlled environment. If you do this then I reckon they will be viewable for many more years than their digital counterpart.

What do you think?

You must have a label….

Well the small exhibition at the station of photographs, pictures of tickets etc. has been well received. I have chatted to many visitors especially locals and some have promised me pictures etc. of the area, this is great and exactly what I am looking for.

It will be staying up and I will be expanding it as time goes on, with not just stuff off our line but other lines around Peterborough.

Now many things are collectable such as tickets, postcards and photographs, but how about labels? Here are a couple of labels for produce sent on passenger trains and they came via Peterborough.

Fish Fruit

I do wonder why the fish was sent to Bradford for instance, was there a market there or was it a distribution point?

The same goes for the Fruit to Newcastle, was the city a distribution point?

If you have any theories on this then please leave a comment on the blog.