A Top Train

I was a train spotter in the late 1950s and early 1960s – all 50 or more years ago now.

I lived in Sussex and my most local lines had been electrified in the 1930s. They were part of the Southern Electric network.

So electric trains were the ordinary, everyday fare for me when I went train spotting locally.

There’s a saying people have, often about music which goes, ‘I know what I like’. A musician friend of mine tells me, from time to time that what they mean is, ‘I like what I know’.

That was probably true of trains as well. I certainly liked what I knew and I remember our old green Southern Electric trains with enormous affection.

Back at Christmas a book about those electric trains came my way (well people know what I like). One photo in the book really moves me. It represents, so very much, what I loved about those long gone trains.

This photo was taken by John C Morgan. It is far too high a quality to have been taken by me or my dad. And thanks, John, I love it.

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The unit in the foreground is what was called a 6-Pul. That meant it had six carriages and one of them was a Pullman car. The Pullman can easily be spotted because it is in the brown and cream livery of the Pullman Car Company. These units were built in the early 1930s and ran express trains from London to the Sussex coast. On the whole, they didn’t stop at my most local stations which meant they were trains I saw thundering through.

This train is carrying route identifier 52. This means it was a Hastings to London train. It is 12 coaches long and the rear unit would have been a 6-Pan and would have been attached to the front unit at Eastbourne.

These trains were visible from our ‘camp’ which was quite near Lewes.

And what neat, tidy looking trains they are. I still think they represent what a train should look like, both in shape and colour.

By the way, the same book has another picture of a 6-Pul unit in Brighton station. You may have seen this very train before on this blog for it was a train I travelled on – a farewell rail tour for the original 1930s Brighton trains.

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This one was taken by Charles Firminger. My pictures of the train were taken using monochrome film so I am pleased to see this one.

And thanks to Santa for bringing me this gift.

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