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.
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.
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?