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By John McGoldrick on

A warning to trainspotters

Curator John McGoldrick shares a recent acquisition which he hopes will spark trainspotting memories.

While looking through one of the railway auction house catalogues, I was intrigued when I came across this sign from the old Nine Elms locomotive depot in South London. We had to have it.

For a museum devoted to railways, we have surprisingly few objects which directly refer to trainspotting and trainspotters. Trainspotting was a mass participation activity, especially among teenage boys, reaching its height in the 1950s with the publication of the popular Ian Allan ABC Locospotters guides.  By and large, British Railways did try to accommodate trainspotters visiting loco sheds and depots, by prior arrangement.  But, as the sign flags up, railway managers and police took a dim view of youths sneaking onto railway property unannounced.  The sign has already provoked a rash of reminiscences amongst the National Railway Museum staff and volunteers. I’m hoping that I can use the sign to get more discussion going.

4 comments on “A warning to trainspotters

  1. Stewarts Lane had a similar sign in the early 90’s by the entrance, which also said no tresspassers etc. Made it quite clear they didn’t wont any unexpected visitors.
    Have to say I was a good lad and just got what I could through the gates.

    1. Hi Timothy,

      Thanks for your comment. I think most locomotive sheds did produce this kind of signage. It’s nice to collect an object like this which illustrates the huge popularity of trainspotting in the 1950s & 1960s. Good to hear that you stayed rail safe!

  2. Nine Elms was an easy yard to enter , as were most of the London MPDs .The problem at Stewart’s Lane was having to pick your way over the live 3rd rail.

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