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By Ellen Tait on

Railway Romance

Railways have always been linked to romance, either in the world of fiction or the real world of meeting loved ones under station clocks.

Our recent Station Stories project collected people’s memories of the railways and it’s no surprise that a large number revolved around love. From first dates to meeting the love of your life, I’ve selected some of these heart-warming stories to share this Valentine’s Day.

Countless people have met their partners whilst travelling on the railways. One of our own staff met their wife at York station, opposite our museum.

My first visit to York Station I stumbled and a lady asked if I was ok, I said yes and asked for the nearest pub which she accompanied me to. I married her and I now work here at the museum. 

National Railway Museum
York Station seen from the museum.

Though it was the railways that could bring loved ones together it was the station that acted as the meeting place.

Every three weeks I’d go and see if my beloved was on the train from Crewe. Eventually the station staff knew me and would let me onto the platform to see if he was there for no charge. We’ve now been married for 29 years. 

Meeting under the station clock is a classic of film and literature, below Tom Adams shares his own experiences.

Waterloo Station has many special memories for me. I had been on a first date with Lillian Henley. We had been for a drink and then just walked along the South Bank. You know when someone is right for you when you can just walk around talking about anything. Lilly had to catch her train from Waterloo and it was the last train of the evening. As we had first met ballroom dancing, we decided to have a little dance on the platform. Her train was about to leave and that is where we had our first kiss. The love of my life. It was brilliant. Then she had to go off to New York for a month. I hoped that we would still be alright and that a month away would not change what we had. It did not. On our second date, we kissed again at Waterloo Station, on our third date we met under the big clock and now we live together, 20 minutes walk away from our favourite station.

The clock at Waterloo Station, where Tom and Lillian met before dates.
The clock at Waterloo Station, where Tom and Lillian met before dates.

Sometimes the most powerful encounters weren’t planned at all.

My husband and I had a terrific argument early in our married life. He left to return to his parents at Dunnington near Sheffield. I missed him so much I went to York station to get a train to Sheffield, as I was about to get on, he alighted from the train, what a reunion! 

Stations can be the start as well as the end of a journey, sometimes the act of separating is more powerful then coming together. 

My own love story very much involves the railways – the first time I met the love of my life, my journey home was from Barnsley to Castleton by train. She waited with me at Barnsley station at the end of one of the most perfect days of my life, we held each other, we watched, waited, knowing the familiar flange squeal would eventually come and the train would appear from around the corner. We hugged, we kissed, we cried, we didn’t want to part, and as I walked away from her I fought back the urge to sob my heart out. I sat on the train and looked out of the window at her, she looked back at me. The guard’s buzzer sounded and the train’s engine roared into life. I pressed my hand against the window and smiled emotionally at her, and she waved and smiled back at me, and off I went. I kept looking at her until I could no longer, and then tried to compose myself.

So happy Valentine’s Day from everyone here at the National Railway Museum. Here’s hoping that the railways can continue bringing people together – after all a train can go much further than the fastest arrow from Cupid’s bow!

National Railway Museum
Here’s a pic of Gavin who actually proposed to Jodie on the footplate of Mallard at our museum.

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