A couple of weeks ago, after all that snow, I turned up at the station and was told that the number of trains had been halved and that I would, unusually, have to change trains at about the halfway point
Irritating, I thought. However, I told myself, at least it wasn’t at all as cold as it had been, and I really did need to get into London to sort out a new office for a media company who wanted something special and different. Not an easy brief, but still possible, provided I could get into the West End, of course.
Idly, I asked a member of staff on the platform why the trains had been altered, and was told “Iced up points”. I didn’t press any further, but it crossed my mind that it really wasn’t cold enough for the points to freeze!
I related the explanation this this to an older friend, who had turned up on the platform next to me , and he remarked: “It was never like that in the old days! In fact, everyone seemed to like the challenge and feel a sense of duty to make things work – triumph in the face of adversity, and all that!”
He then told me about the big freeze in 1963, when the the snow was so deep it was – to use a modern term – awesome! He told me that British Rail (as it was then) connected two trains with a carriage in between and a snow plough on the front and just charged up the line. Snow was shot off the line and the lines were open. That old fashioned British spirit! So why doesn’t that happen now?
Funnily enough, he said that fairly recently he’d seen a film of that train in action during the 1963 winter. “I would really like to see that, I thought” Once I made it into the office, I googled it, and sure enough, there is British Rail footage of the Winter of 1963 on You Tube. Here it is: