Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A ticket for Penrith.

Even in the 1950's many of the buildings along the Stainmore Line lacked any electricity supply. Bowes station was one example - I'm not sure if the domestic side of the property was ever wired up but there was certainly none in the booking office.

My grandfather told me that some time in the late 1950's he was on duty covering early turn as 'signalman-porter ' at Bowes one cold and wet winter morning.  It was still pitch dark, half an hour before dawn. The first train of the day was the 7:14 AM DMU from Darlington to Penrith and it was already 'on line' from Tees Valley Junction when he noticed a passenger on the platform. With the exception of the local track walker hardly anyone ever caught this train, and certainly in the middle of winter.

He took a paraffin lamp down from the signal box and hurried to unlock the booking office and groped around in the dark for a day return to Penrith which was what the passenger wanted to buy. Then he had to rush back to the signal box to offer the train 'on line' to Stainmore.

Just over an hour later as he was eating his breakfast 'bait' by the signal box stove and enjoying a pint tin mug of strong tea (made as always with condensed milk I guess) he received a call relayed across the telephone circuits from the ticket inspector on the barrier at Penrith. Might be have issued a dog ticket to the young man who had boarded the 7:14 AM train? Yes, groping around in the dark with only a flickering oil lamp to illuminate the scene he had found the Penrith tickets OK but not noticed the words 'Dog Ticket' there across the face of the ticket in the dim light. I guess it wasn't the first time it was done.

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