Posts Tagged ‘1969’


May 30, 2016

I’m afraid this refers to a train – one of the old Southern Electrics. I was raised in Sussex and the main lines had been electrified in the 1930s. By the time I was a train spotter in the late 1950s the electrified lines and trains were well established. We ‘experts’ knew, more or less, what we could expect to see when and where. We all had our favourite types. For me it was the style known as 6 PUL – a 6 coach unit with one of the six being a Pullman car. They had been built for the Brighton line electrification which fully opened in 1933. My best mate, always known as Boz, had a preference for the Portsmouth line electrics which were a little newer. By the time they were built the greater flexibility of four coach units had been realised and also they were gangwayed right through the train – they had a corridor right through and they were classed as 4 COR.

I grabbed a not very good photo of one of these units at my local Three Bridges station.


I think this was in 1969 and I used Kodachrome film which I never found as good as Agfachrome.

This is the back of the train – the red square in the destination indicator tells us this but the front would look otherwise identical. Some people referred to these units as Nelsons which may have been because they were built for Portsmouth services or it may have been in reference to only having one window for the driver – the other being replaced by the route indicator and being akin to the blind eye of the Admiral.

A lousy photos, but happy memories.


May 24, 2016

I used to love train spotting at Lewes. It was a busy station and there was always something happening. In any ordinary hour you’d see:

  • The fast train from London to Eastbourne and Hastings
  • Two stopping trains from Brighton to Eastbourne and Hastings
  • A stopping train from Brighton to Seaford
  • A stopping train from Horsted Keynes to Seaford
  • A train from Brighton to Tonbridge

Of course, there were the trains in the opposite direction to match so there were certain to be 12 trains an hour. Most of them were electric, but the Tonbridge trains were steam hauled and on top of the routine there’d be a few freight trains, holiday specials and the unlikely train heading off to Birkenhead which all could be steam hauled. Newhaven boat trains usually had one of the electric locos on the front. There was plenty of variety.

My photo is not the best and dates from after my train spotting days.


The train we see is one of the stoppers to Eastbourne. The rear unit, nearest us, is a 2Hal. It has been painted in the awful BR plain blue with an all over yellow end. It made a neat little train look hideous. The leading unit had escaped the blue paint and is in green.

Clearly some kind of work is going on at the platform ends. Perhaps it was to be the end of the lovely array of semaphore signals which, I presume, were operated from the box just beyond the platform.

We can see the now closed Tonbridge line curving off to the left by the train and beyond the train is the Caburn range of the South Downs with the infamous Lewes cliff.

Happy memories for me!

Dick Freeman

November 8, 2015

A part of my heart will always be at Furlongs Farm, on the South owns near Lewes. Childhood holidays there were a truly formative experience for me. It is still an area where I feel utterly at one with the world.

Back in 1969 I was introducing my girlfriend (now wife) to the delights of the place and had driven her down there at lambing time. We went to the farm and there was Dick Freeman, the tenant farmer, tending his charges just at the back of the cottage.


Dick was a true countryman. On the face of it he led a rough sort of life, occupying one room of this lonely cottage and sometimes heading off to a sister’s house a mile or so away. The cottage had limited amenities. Water was available but electricity and sewerage were not. I’m afraid I wouldn’t know the extent of Dick’s travels. Many a blog these days seems to imply you are incomplete if you don’t travel. Dick proved otherwise. Here was a wise and knowledgeable man on all sorts of issues. This was not just local knowledge. It truly was worldwide. Looking at the scruffy old man in the photo, you’d be amazed to know how many friends Dick had, but if you joined him, sitting on a log around his roaring fire, you’d have seen his wall of postcards which people he knew sent him. Amongst his friends were top rated artists for the bulk of his cottage was let out to such people. They kept in touch afterwards. My dad may not have been in that league, but from the time we got a car and sometimes went elsewhere for a few days, Dick always got a card from him.

I really couldn’t tell you where Dick picked up information, but I can tell you he was woefully lacking in knowledge of local bird life. Small birds in hedgerows had a generic name. Dick called them all linnets.

Time moves on. Dick and his wider family are no more. The cottage is let to I know not who and there is not the same incentive to visit. I find it hard to be a stranger in a place I once saw, almost, as home. However, the nearby field, where we camped is in a right to roam area and that retains all its old magic for me.

The Dakota

September 4, 2015

As a child I lived most of my life in the village of Ifield. It got subsumed into Crawley new Town as that was built, but was still on the edge of town.

Then another big building project began to the north of Ifield. This was the building of the new Gatwick Airport which opened in 1958.

The end of the runway was little more than a mile from my house. I became, for a while, an aircraft spotter. But do you know what? It was tedious. You could hang around for hours and see no aircraft take off or land. Those you did see were the little De Havilland Doves and Herons, the ‘big’ turboprop Vickers Viscounts but mostly they were American built Douglas Dakotas or the similar looking British built Vickers Viking.

Just occasionally a Bristol Britannia might appear or a Lockheed Constellation.

Eleven years later the Dakota was still in evidence, but becoming more of a rarity. In 1969, on a visit to the British United Airways depot, we saw this one.


For once in those days of the late 60s I have captioned this well.


This was quite an old girl even back in 1969 for she came off the production line in mid-1944, making her just about 25 when I took that photo. She still had a dozen years of front line service in front of her, though, and still survives. She is now in the care of a charity called ‘Classic Air Force’ and you can read a full history of this plane on their web site at .

And now a memory from the late 50s. Dakotas were used to deliver newspapers to the Channel Islands. I guess early editions were rushed from the presses down to Gatwick and trundled on to a waiting Dakota. If the wind was in the east the planes taxied up to the runway end nearest my home where they carried out a high rev engine test before taking off. Sometimes the noise of that test woke me and I can still recall the sound of those engines now. Although it was at something like 3 in the morning, I quite liked this noise which broke the silence of the night.


Attempting to be arty

September 3, 2015

Attempting to be arty

I really am not a particularly artistic person. When it comes to pencils, brushes pens, etc, my brain might have ideas but my hands just don’t go where I want them to. Even in photography I’m inclined to think of myself as a recorder rather than as an artistic interpreter. I tend to decide what my subject is and plonk it slap in the middle of the frame. Yes, I know the rule of thirds, but it isn’t, in my view, a rule. It is just an idea and some people like it.

Forty six years ago, though, I was young and probably had aspirations. I certainly thought then that this photo was arty.


The subject was my girlfriend – who has been my wife for 44 years now. The location is Hampstead Heath in North London. I can recall that my main aim was to get the sunlight shining on or rather through her hair. The fact that she is about a third of the way across and maybe a bit less in the vertical direction is thus fluke. I was working with black and white film and certainly saw this as being a silhouette.

I still like the image which, I am afraid, has faded and yellowed with age but that has been somewhat sorted digitally.

Freshwater Bay

July 17, 2015

I seem to have been going to Freshwater Bay for years. It’s very much West Wight and it’s a place where the chalk downs reach the sea to form cliffs, stacks, and, once upon a time, an arch.

image002 That’s a 1969 photo taken on the good old Canon Demi and it shows the arch in place.

And now a similar 2015 view.


Do you know what? I think it is more attractive now and of course in this view we can see round to the sand cliffs near Compton Bay.


Now that’s what I call scenery to drool over.


A brass works plate

April 3, 2015

That I’d have a brass works plate off a British steam loco may be expected. Regular readers who have looked at this page will know I do have such an item.

However, this plate is clearly German and has nothing whatever to do with railways.


M. Lehmann founded their engineering works in Dresden in 1834. Their speciality was equipment needed in the manufacture of chocolate. The company survived until 1945 and was then destroyed when Dresden was bombed although it was restarted as a nationalised company. Under different names it was privatised in 1992.

This plate came off some kind of chocolate making machine at a sweet factory in Crawley. I worked there when I was a student during one summer holiday. This machine was out of use and a supervisor was happy for me to take this plate. The machine was a large circular vat in which chocolate mixture was stirred and mixed. I’m working from long ago memory but would guess the vat was about 3 metres across. The plate is curved to fit this, so I’m sure if I was clever I’d be able to work out the size of the vat from the plate!

Presumably this machine was sold by the agents, Bramigk & Co. of London.

I have a feeling that the machine was pre-war in origin, albeit it was about 1969 when I worked for the company.

An unidentified rail vehicle at Wimbledon

November 19, 2014

It’s 1969. I’m a student and had just bought (second hand) my Canon Demi camera. Why I was at Wimbledon, I don’t know. It had been a trainspotting haunt for me seven or eight years earlier. I had almost certainly travelled along the West Croydon to Wimbledon line, probably just to see it. Anyway, whilst waiting at Wimbledon, this train came through.


The leading vehicle was outside my experience – probably an engineer’s saloon. I can see it is attached to a standard electric train of the era. This lets us see its flat rather than curved sides which gave it the potential to be a go anywhere vehicle. I have to say it looked very smart in its fresh, bright, British Rail livery.

45 years on I still wonder about its origins and purpose. Maybe some other nerd will be able to tell me more.

Here’s hoping!

The VC10

October 26, 2014

Jet airliners are of my age or a bit younger. I remember the early Comets and the disasters they had due to sudden decompression when window frames fractured.  The Comet went on to be quite successful but it was American companies which came to dominate the jet airliner market for many a year.

Then the British fought back with planes with rear mounted jet engines and in terms of size the daddy of them all was the Vickers VC10. Perhaps we could say the VC10 was typically British – essentially high class engineering but something of a flop commercially. The first one flew in 1962 and in the end many had long lives, but mostly as refuelling planes in the RAF.

From my time living in Ifield, little more than a mile from the country end of the runway at Gatwick, I knew them well and always thought they were handsome aircraft. In about 1969 I visited the British United Airways hangar at the airport and was able to get close up to a VC10.


The public actually liked these planes, perhaps spurred on by the adverts we used to see on huge posters. One had the slogan, ‘slip across the Atlantic on the quiet’. For those of us on the ground that seemed like a total untruth. The VC10 was not quiet but apparently those rear mounted engines made it quieter in the cabin. The other ad simply said ‘try a little VC Tenderness’.  It seems the ads gave the planes appeal.


A view along the fuselage.

And the warning to one and all is to get your old slides copied. These have mould growth on them and so may have been saved just in time.

A bus at Three Bridges

March 10, 2014

I’ve said before, I was never really a bus nerd but even so, some old vehicles caught my eye. I’d go so far as to say I liked the old London Transport RT double deckers. I preferred them to the more modern Routemasters. Ideally I liked them in the green livery of the country services rather than the red of the London buses. But when I saw a red RT out at Three Bridges (a part of Crawley), I had to snap a photo of it.


This isn’t any old RT bus. It is an RTW or widened version. It may have meant that buses of the size of Routemasters were coming to Crawley for this old bus was equipped with L plates and was being used for driver training.

The photo dates from 1969. The buses date from around 1949.