My life in tickets
Last year, when we visited the Isle of Wight Steam railway it was a wonderful day and a grand experience. But I did comment on one thing that I regrette3d and that was that the railway issued modern tickets. I commented that it probably made book keeping easier since the computer, somewhere, kept all records. But I fell, that for me, one part of the heritage experience was missed.
At the Bluebell Railway, last month, that little snip of memory was rekindled properly as the Bluebell issue good old fashioned Edmonson tickets.
Yes that looks the part. It’s a proper railway ticket with serial number. A clerk should record the first and last serial number of the day and then compare it with takings in the till. He should be able to tally his results and show he hasn’t been fiddling the books.
When Thomas Edmonson evolved this system, back in the 1840s, it was a huge step forward in the accounting process. Before that, all tickets had been individually written. But we can sympathise with the Isle of Wight Line for it still involves much adding up and checking.
The thing that I remember most about the issuing of these tickets was a double clunk noise as the ticket was pushed both ways into the date stamping machine. That noise is just so evocative of the start of a train journey and what a pleasure it was to hear it at Sheffield Park Station. The date appears on the reverse of the ticket.
This date allows any ticket inspector to see that the ticket is valid for the journey you are making.
The Edmonson ticket had other advantages. The card was robust enough for the clipping process.
A triangular notch was removed from this card as I left the booking hall and went on to the platform. In a sense, this doesn’t matter on the Bluebell, for the ticket, which looks like a standard return from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead, is in fact a day rover. You can travel back and forth as many times as you like. But again, the clipping was a part of the experience. If the ticket had been a ‘real’ return ticket that triangular notch could tell a ticket inspector I had already made the journey and was riding a train fraudulently.
And again, the clipping had a sound – one I associate with railway travel.
It’s good to bring back those memories.
Because we took the absolutely magical brake van ride at Horsted Keynes, we got another ticket. This one is not an Edmonson – it was more like a bus ticket.
The date has not been entered but it was the same date – 23rd March 2014.
Of course, both tickets have been added to my collection. Both help to keep memories alive for me.