All train journeys can be shaped by the people you meet. It might be a conversation with a stranger that ends when you alight the train, or a chance meeting leading to a new friendship that outlasts the journey.
This week we asked visitors to tell us (via our in-museum ticket board) about the most interesting person they’ve met on a train.
The responses varied from sentimental to humorous, with a touch of celebrity. I’ve picked out a few to share with you:
‘John Peel, who was of course, very courteous.’
‘A lady who told me my daughter was psychic!’
‘Arthur Scargill. He was eating a cheese sandwich.’
‘I met a 99 year old lady. She had spent Christmas with her niece and was travelling back to London. She told me all about the First World War and the Second World War. She worked as a nurse and a missionary.’
‘An old gentleman travelling from Scotland to London to visit an ‘elderly relative’. He was old school charming and entertaining. His cravat was fabulous!’
Visitor responses like these will be used to help us populate Station Hall with real people’s stories about working in stations and travelling by train.
These anecdotes brought to mind a set of film stills in our image collection. They are taken from a 1950s British Transport Film about a party of boot factory workers from Leicester travelling to London for a day trip.
They show a slice of life on one particular journey. I’ve selected some that really captured my imagination. What do you think is happening in them?
These ladies appear to be catching up on their gossip. The lady in the background is looking out of the window, but is she listening in?
Just visible on the right-hand side of the picture is a ‘reserved’ sign stuck to the window. It was common for employers to organise trips for their workers and special trains were often put on for such excursions.
I wonder what tune this man is playing on his accordion?
I like to imagine that the two sisters in this family are wearing a home made dress and skirt made out of the same pair of old floral curtains.
This group are passing the time with assorted reading materials. The gentleman in the middle seems more interested in the boy’s comic than reading his newspaper.
This couple are concentrating hard on their game of cards. The half-smoked cigarette in the gentleman’s mouth was a common sight aboard trains in this period.
Did any of these people remind you of the most interesting person you’ve met on a train?