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By Sally Sculthorpe on

The dog who was a signalman, and other canine Station Stories

It’s not just humans who’ve got stories to tell—our Station Stories project also gathered lots of tales about man’s best friend.

I’ve heard about lovable pups who were good travelling companions, and naughty scamps who’ve terrorised train drivers. Here’s a few of the canine stories that captured my imagination:

A dachshund at a London railway station, 1940.

My little dog Judy travelled everywhere with me. Once we were travelling from from King’s Cross station. I wanted a meal badly and I didn’t have anybody to leave her with. So I just put her lead into her collar and said “I’ll be back, Judy”. I sat her between my two suitcases, one at each side of her. When I came back she was there just the same as I left her and so were my suitcases. I always felt I could trust my fellow travellers.

Poster produced by various railway companies promoting return tickets at single rates for dogs travelling on their routes.

Once at Grantham Station, on the Great North Eastern King’s Cross bound service, there was a lady with a dog. At one stop the lady put her dog on platform to have a wee. Before the dog had completed his toilet duties the doors closed and the train departed! We put in a call to the GNER Control to say we had a distressed lady on the train and her dog was on the platform at Grantham. I arranged for her to detrain at Peterborough and await the next train from Grantham. The staff at Grantham Station looked for her dog, found him, and gave him to the train conductor at Grantham to take to Peterborough, where he was reunited with his lady owner.

Unlike the Scottie below, these dogs are on the track for a reason. They’re promoting the LMS Coronation Scot’s tour of America, 1939.

We were waiting for a train that was running late. Looking along the track, I could see it in the distance and, after some time as it got closer, I could see the reason for that delay. A wee Scottie dog was running in front of the train as it crawled into the station. I went to the end of the platform to try and get the dog. It growled at me, tried to nip my fingers and raced off down the track. The train crawled along patiently behind it until it got to the junction and the dog went one way and the train, with a toot of its horn, went another.

Dogs also lent station staff a helping hand during the Second World War. Lots of dogs like this one were used for war guard duties.
Dogs also lent station staff a helping hand during the Second World War. Lots of dogs like this one were used for war guard duties.

We had a signalman at the box beside our station. The signalman had a wee Sheltie and when I took the mail up, which was one of my excuses for seeing how the box worked, the signalman would be pulling the levers and his wee dog would be helping him by clamping its teeth on at the base of the lever and pulling back with him.

Poster advertising holidays shooting holidays to Scotland, 1925.

I was travelling on the night sleeper from York to Scotland. The hunting crowd was on the train so there was an extra coach with no seats and straw on the floor for the gun dogs. One family had a spaniel as well as their gun dog. The spaniel stood on the platform and was trained to leap on the train when the sleeping car attendant had his back turned and hide under the seat.

Station Hall has its very own furry friend, Laddie: a railway collecting dog in his working life, and now a firm favourite with our visitors.

You can see Laddie and discover lots more station stories on display in our redeveloped Station Hall. Find out more about what you can expect to see.

You can share your station story with us by emailing or filling in our online form.

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