The "Gateway to the North".
An hour of a day in July 1959.
by Denis R. Muir
The great glass canopy resounds, echoing to a station's sounds;
the slam of doors and sudden jet of steam
which for a second hides the engine's gleam.
The buzz of last goodbyes and promises to write,
a longing kiss or two with hands clasped tight
till a whistle shrills response to an unseen wave
and "RUTLAND" starts impressively away.
A quiet, peaceful calm descends on platforms; kiosks; railwaymen.
Pigeons settle from their scattered flight
and broken panes of glass bathe chinks of light
as a simmering Jubilee "SASKATCHEWAN"
relieved her charge, slips by a parcels van,
and, increasing speed as green replaces red,
smokeless, canters off to Kingmoor shed.
"THE TRAIN APPROACHING PLATFORM NUMBER ..."
"Was that Four?" - the announcer's voice distorting more and more.
Newcastle's mentioned and "SPRINGBOK" noiselessly arrives,
whilst from the north and unannounced steal two "BLACK FIVES"
Importantly they bustle in their train
having conquered Beattock Summit yet again.
They're followed by a "V2" tender first,
leaking like a sieve and fit to burst.
Schoolboys find a sunny spot to underline in red the ones they've got;
their "Combined Ian Allans" black with grime;
dog-eared pages turned ten thousand time.
A lovely book of quickly fading dreams,
just years away from Beeching's evil schemes,
meanwhile a ticket clerk with head and shoulders bent
tries to find a place called Manston, Kent.
Families scurry on their way intent on this year's holiday
as rows of coloured hoardings set the scene,
of Rhyll, Torquay, Skegness and Aberdeen,
while unnoticed off the "Waverley"
a reminder of the old N.B.
A "Scott" - "MEG DODS", hand-painted name,
totters in like some old dame.
She's ambled down from Riccarton; Penton; Steele Road and Newcastleton
with passengers from "The Muckle Toon"
to connect expresses due at noon.
From somewhere comes a vibrant ring,
unseen, a "tapper's hammer" sings;
the station pilot shunts some empty stock
as platform 3 Inspector eyes the clock.
Steaming giants wait their turn while firemen coax the fires to burn,
all straining at an unseen lead,
pure thorough-breds just built for speed.
resplendent in their liveries;
"AULD REEKIE", prouder than the rest,
Haymarket at its very best.
A sailor absent-minded stares at posters advertising fares,
his mind on ships - or girls - who knows?
at Portsmouth; Chatham or Plymouth Hoe.
Crown Street scammels drone like bees;
the announcer blares "Inspector Please"
He hurries off to platform 1
wondering where his day has gone.
And Harry Keilor clips away, Second-Child-Return-Cheap Day,
as Ivatt "43139"
whistles for the Silloth line.
Her crew are from Canal and Yard
with Jackie Simpson as the guard
as a messenger with a piece of chalk
marks up times then stops to talk.
"The Clydes 2 up, the Middays 3, but theres a hot box south of Lockerbie"
The inquisitor shrugs and turns away
as a bell sounds in the box 4a.
Spotters watch a train approach
and envy driver Harry Broatch
as West Walls shimmers in the haze.
Carlisle starts its busiest phase.
Stopping trains for Cockermouth; Ravenglass and all points south.
Symington; Hexham; Hawick; Ayr,
Carnforth; Preston; Crewe; Carstairs.
Trains for the Midlands Eden Vale and the N.B.'s constant curving rail.
Shap Summit; Whitrope and Ais Gill; the Roman Wall and Lakeland hills.
The Eildons; Criffel; Arnton; Dent,
Ribblehead and Pen-y-Ghent.
In storms a Glasgow bound express, "SIR WILLIAM A.STANIER F.R.S."
four minutes down but the minutes lost
should be regained by Mossband troughs.
The young lad with the piece of chalk
leaves the board and takes a walk.
One aim in mind, one special aim,
to see a very special train.
Across the bridge from platform 3 he dodges frantic families
but without a care he makes his way
to the now vacated Silloth bay.
He haunches at the platform's end
with his eyes fixed on the West Wall's bend.
The Viaduct bridge is jammed with queues
as a "ROYAL SCOT" comes into view.
Polmadie shedded, 66A and bound for sunny Morecambe Bay,
while in the background - the "Caley Yard"
a rake of vanfits jerk back hard.
The Dumfries "CRAB" takes up the strain
covering everything with a sooty rain;
belching smoke and leaking steam
for the "Sou West" road through Gretna Green.
The clock ticks on and time slips by. The lad breathes out a little sigh.
"Telegraph and Telephones"
will think he's disappeared off home.
He dare not stay and take that chance
- and turns away with one last glance
then stands transfixed - a strange A3 ....
he forgets where he's supposed to be.
A headboard that he knows the best, the N.B.s "WAVERLEY EXPRESS"
For a moment he is lost in time,
each name and number stored to mind.
And here it comes - heart skips a beat,
its smoke-box hazy with the heat
while slipping by the well-known sign
"Seed Merchants - Little and Ballantyne"
It focuses before his eyes "60077 - THE WHITE KNIGHT" he cries,
the train purrs by - a majestic sight,
a glorious apple-green "WHITE KNIGHT".
Sheer beauty gives his mind a jolt
as "The Waverley" draws to a halt.
The "tapper's" sound comes to his ears;
his ecstatic mind eventually clears,
from something, somewhere, a distant bell,
- the announcer blares
"THIS IS CARLISLE; CARLISLE CITADEL STATION.
THE TRAIN NOW STANDING AT PLATFORM 4 IS THE 12.52
WAVERLEY EXPRESS TO LONDON SAINT PANCRAS, CALLING AT
THIS TRAIN IS THE 10.15 FROM EDINBURGH WAVERLEY AND CONTAINS A DINING CAR.
THIS IS CARLISLE; CARLISLE CITADEL STATION ..."
this was Carlisle Citadel Station as seen through the eyes of a boy during the long hot summers of his youth.
© Denis R.Muir,
26 Jul '86,
4 Jul '90.
Written after a visit to the Railway Exhibition at Tullie House, Carlisle, this is an attempt, all-be-it not very good, to recreate in words the atmosphere of the station. It's not meant to be historically accurate as such although it does portray an hour of a day of a week during a late 1950's summer. To decide just when is the prerogative of the reader because Citadel was like that. You never really knew what would turn up at any time. It gave me great pleasure to write and there are four existing versions with different engines and crews but basically the same. This though is my version because it includes "Auld Reekie". I hope it revives a few memories for those who remember the "Gateway to the North" as it was during the heady days when "Steam reigned Supreme" as Alfie would say. I would like to dedicate it to the memory of Alan Hill who died in 1989. He loved it and kept a copy in his locker which he read now and then - even more during his last few weeks at work when he alone realised how serious things were. Took him back to all sorts of memories because it reminded him of his young days. "You're wasted Muir"
I'm one of the passengers promising to write.
"Princess Coronation" Class 46228, DUCHESS OF RUTLAND departs with the train brought by "Jubilee" 45561 SASKATCHEWAN.
SPRINGBOK has arrived from Newcastle and is LNER "B1" 61000.
Both "Black Fives" are Carlisle Kingmoor based and head a Glasgow to Birmingham passenger train. Their relief engine - a "Patriot" 45525 SIR HERBERT WALKER KCB will be amongst the thorough-breds waiting patiently in the "middle road".
The LNER "V2" appeared because I like V2's. This one was 60818 and just what it was doing that particular day is anyone's guess. I don't even know and I wrote it !!
"Combined Ian Allan's" were the trainspotters bible.
Mr John Sherwell of Manston, Kent, en-route from RAF Lossiemouth to home for summer leave. Someone I've talked to many a time but never had the pleasure of meeting.
The "Sir Walter Scott" class "MEG DODS" is a Reid D30/2, 62419 shedded at 64G Hawick, driven by Jock Scott with Sandy Reid the guard - or it could have been Arthur Newton or Tam o Shanter.
Theres only one Muckle Toon - and thats Langholm. Passengers have joined the ex-Hawick train at Riddings Junction.
Station pilot is an Upperby 0-6-0 tank - too small and grimy to take any particular interest in.
I was the sailor going on draft from HMS Lochinvar to join HMS Tiger at Devonport.
Crown Street was to the south of the station and was the main parcels depot. I started work there in 1961 as messenger for Mr Shackley, the Yard Master.
AULD REEKIE- my favourite engine. LNER "A1" class - 60160.
Harry Keilor's name is wrong but I know who I mean.
"Ivatt" class 43139 shedded at Carlisle Canal with my pal Jackie Simpson as guard.
"J36" class 65321 would have got a mention but was on the CAD Longtown goods again.
I'm the messenger/train reporting boy on loan from Crown Street to the Telegraph Office as holiday relief.
Harry Broatch - ex-Copshaw Holme, Canal Driver.
The "Thames-Clyde" and "Midday Scot" were both expresses. Bill Percival of Longtown was the regular driver of the "Thames-Clyde"
Box 4A was within the station itself.
SIR WILLIAM A.STANIER F.R.S. is "Coronation Class" 46256.
Mossband Troughs were just North of the A74 bridge. 65321 would be in CAD shunting when 46256 went by.
The "ROYAL SCOT" class was 46113 Cameronian on a Glasgow Fair Special.
60077 was one of the A3s I'd often dreampt about seeing but never actually did
I met Cliff Tobin by chance in Hazeldene's bar. From Sunderland, he travelled the North of England repairing/re-filling extinguishers and his area was a large one but he started to call in whenever he could and we used to sit and talk "engines".
I suspect the breathalyser caught up with him because he vanished without trace in July '87. A dedicated train spotter, this is part of his list of a visit to Carlisle on the 10th and 11th of August, 1959.
What a place for a boy !!