For me there is something romantic about places at the far distant end of a journey. Penzance was such a destination and one I only dreamed of in my childhood. I was aware from an early age that if you caught a train heading west from London the furthest point you could reach was Penzance in Cornwall. The place was special in my mind. I may never have been there and I may never have imagined that I ever would go there, but to be the distant terminus of a train journey imbued the place with a specialness that I still feel, even though I have been there many times now.

It is about 305 miles from London to Penzance but back in those pre-car days of the 1950s, Penzance might as well have been in another galaxy for all the chance I had of getting there.

I first got there in the early 1970s but my pictures today date from 1989 when I visited with my children. Yes, they had to put up with a railway nerd father!


There’s the station and it doesn’t look all that special or romantic really. The loco we see is a diesel shunter. But there was interest for back then there were still travelling letter sorting offices and one left Penzance each day. I am so pleased we got our children to post cards directly onto the ‘TPO’ or travelling post office.

And here they are, with my wife, doing the posting.


Times change. 24 years ago we did these quaint things like sending post cards and letters. Who does it now? Not many people for sure. The text, the email or the tweet have rather taken away from the snail mail. It’s sad in a way. On this blog I have shown a number of postcards sent by my Edwardian relatives. The electronic messages of today can be so fast and furious that they are also bound to be so transient. Family historians of the future won’t have the wonderful resources I have.

And train enthusiasts have lost out too. The TPO trains no longer run. In fact mail is barelycarried by rail at all in this country. What a shame.

The station probably doesn’t show Penzance at its best. It is a busy little town with shops and plenty to see.

The Post Office trains don’t run, but Penzance is served well by trains still. It takes about five and a half hours from London. Trains also run to destinations in Scotland.



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