Posts Tagged ‘1970’

A Co-op Pass Book

September 18, 2016

When I was a child my mum shopped, when possible, at the Co-op. She was a member, with a number, which meant every purchase earned a small dividend. It is more than 50 years since my mum died but I still remember her co-op number and would reveal it to nobody as it can be a useful password or number.

When I became an independent adult it was natural for me to become a Co-op member and I joined up in 1970 and was given a pass book. Here it is.


I have blanked out parts of this – I’m a tad wary of identity theft.

Looking back I have no idea, really, why I became a member and what benefits might have accrued to me from it. For by this time the Co-op had abandoned member’s dividends in favour of Co-op saving stamps. It’s clear from the inside of my book that no transactions were ever entered.


Again, sections have been blanked out.

I have no real reason for keeping the book – except nostalgia for an old system.

The Permanent Way gang on Rannoch Moor

August 21, 2016

Having left Maid of the Loch at Tarbet (yesterday’s post) back in August 1970, we stayed in a beautiful youth hostel on the banks of Loch Long and the following morning caught the train to Fort William from Arrochar and Tarbet station.

This was to be one of the best railway journeys ever. It was after the steam era and our train was diesel hauled. For the nerds we had an English Electric type one (class 20) in charge of the train. It was underpowered and went slowly affording time to see the surrounding bleak, wild and wonderful scenery.

I looked forward to crossing the remote wilderness of Rannoch Moor. The tales of railway prospectors trying to pick a route almost beggar belief. Elderly men dressed in Sunday best set out to walk across the moor. The weather closed in and they got lost and separated. One of them banged his head on a rock and became unconscious. The brolly one of them carried proved no use at all in the wild weather. Almost amazingly, all survived and the line was built over the moor – still as remote a spot as you could wish for.

But railways need maintaining and during our journey across Rannoch Moor, a permanent way gang were at work. I could, of course, lean out of the window in those days to take a photo of them. The train was travelling at little more than walking pace.


The men have stepped aside to allow the train to pass. It’s interesting to note the lack of hi-vis jackets. In terms of settlement or habitation, there is nothing.

Life has not taken me back to Rannoch since that day, but on a recent visit to Scotland we looked at Arrochar and Tarbet station, for old time’s sake.


It would not have had any Gaelic back in 1970.

Tarbet, Loch Lomond – then and now

August 20, 2016

Our first visit to Tarbet on Loch Lomond in Scotland was in 1970 which, as I write, was 46 years ago. We had caught the boat up to Tarbet from Balloch and had a wonderful, bright clear journey. Our vessel for this trip was the wonderful paddle steamer, Maid of the Loch. It didn’t really prove possible to photograph it until we had alighted at Tarbet at the end of that stage of our journey. As the old Maid departed she did her best to blacken the skies above those bonny banks.


By heck – that was a lot of evil black smoke but Maid of the Loch quickly got under way as she headed further up Lomond.


She is of course a fascinating ship still extant but now a static tourist attraction. She was built in 1953 on the Clyde and then disassembled and transported by train to Balloch where she was rebuilt and launched in 1953 so she was but 17 years old when we travelled on her – the last paddle steamer built in Britain.

We’ll now fast forward to 2016. We had been to Tarbet in between times but always got bad weather, but in July 2016 the sun shone again for us.


That little peak hasn’t changed but there is no Maid of the Loch to occupy the foreground.


The boats on the loch do not have the same appeal that Maid of the Loch had but Loch Lomond looked good.


Loch Seaforth sets forth

July 10, 2016

Back in 1970 we visited Scotland, mostly travelling by train but using bus and ferry when appropriate. One ferry trip was from Mallaig to Kyle of Lochalsh which enabled us to arrive on the west coast via the West Highland line and return east again on the Kyle line. Planning our itinerary in those pre-internet days involved a lot of library work where timetables were available. We just had time to fit in a crossing to Kyleakin on Skye from where we saw Loch Seaforth departing on the next leg of her journey.


It is clearly dramatic scenery as we look back to the mainland with the ferry setting out.

These days, of course, the Skye Bridge takes you over the sea to that island. Not everybody likes it, but I’m a fan.

Across the Forth Bridge

May 12, 2016

My first sight of the Forth Bridge was from a train crossing it in 1970. It ought to have been perfection. 1970 was the era of diesel trains which gave passengers a view past the driver and out of the front of the train. My wife (then fiancée) and I had the very front seats. We were set for a grandstand view.

But it was not meant to be. The Firth of Forth was swirling in really quite thick fog. The bridge itself was barely visible even though I was on it. My good old little Canon Demi did its best and this is what I got.


The train made good progress for AWS (which could stand for audio warning signalling) was in place. At regular intervals we could see the AWS ramp as the train ran over it and here the all clear bell for the driver. Even so it was quite disconcerting heading into the fog filled void at speed.

And that has remained, so far, my only train trip over the bridge. Of course, I have been up there by car and used the Forth Road Bridge which gives a chance to stop and enjoy both eras in bridge technology.


The 19th century bridge by Fowler and Baker is certainly magnificent. This photo dates from 2005.

The road bridge, of course, has had much publicised problems but is presumably OK now.

A postcard from me

November 13, 2015

By 1970 I had finished my training and was about to commence work. I had become engaged to be married and we, my fiancée and I, headed off to tour Scotland by train, bus and ship. We had planned an itinerary that would get us to most places accessible by rail and had included a ferry ride up Loch Lomond and also from Mallaig to Kyle of Lochalsh. We also got to the station most distant from London, at Wick and used a bus to get from there to John o’ Groats. I clearly felt I should send my Dad a postcard from this far flung location and here it is.


And here’s the very short message.


So, this was written on 21st August 1970 and postmarked John o’ Groats the next day. I have hidden the address for members of the family still inhabit that area although not the same house.

I see it cost 4d to send a stamp then, just a few months before February 1971 when the UK adopted a decimal currency. The stamp is a Scottish issue one.

Dad had recently remarried, after the death of my mother in 1967 so obviously, his new wife was included in the recipients.

If anybody thinks I was niggardly with the information sent home to Dad be assured that other cards sent have so much small writing crammed on to them that I can barely read them.

A bus at Swindon

September 20, 2015

This is another photo where I am no longer certain of the date but I believe it is 1970.

I know I was in Swindon that year.

Swindon, of course, is a renowned railway centre. So what have I got? A photo of an old bus.


I don’t have much knowledge about buses but somebody out there will tell me more, I daresay.

The bus is clearly in use for driver training for it carries an L plate. This is what I think it is.

I reckon it was built by Bristol Omnibus Company and has an Eastern Coachworks body. By the way, it always seemed daft to me to make the chassis in Bristol and then transport it to Lowestoft to be bodied. My guess is that this bus dates from around 1949.

As is often the case, I would like somebody to tell me if I am right.

On Maid of the Loch

May 24, 2015

I feel incredibly lucky to have travelled on Loch Lomond on the paddle steamer, ‘Maid of the Loch’. This old paddle steamer still exists. It was 1970 and my (then fiancée) and I were youth hostelling in Scotland. I can tell you this was a grand holiday for me as we did much of our travelling by train, covering the West Highland line, The Kyle Line and the far north line. We also used ferries and one of them was from Balloch Pier to Tarbet and this was our trip on Maid of the Loch.

Actually, back then she was still a comparative youngster for she had been built in 1953 – the last paddle steamer built in Britain. Interestingly (to me at any rate) was that she was made as a construction kit and delivered to Tarbet by rail for assembly,

The memory of sound shifts in the Glasgow area stick with me. As we awaited the arrival of the Maid at Balloch Pier an excited Glasgow youngster saw her coming and called, ’Mammy, It’s a beg shap’. Or, as we Sassenachs might say, ‘Mummy, it’s a big ship’.

I surely have a photo of The Maid somewhere. This was the era of half frame colour slides on my little Canon Demi camera.

What I have here is a bit of the sharp end and a view of Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond.


I have driven up past Loch Lomond several times since and I have to say I find it hard to actually get to the banks to find out if they are ‘bonny’. But on Maid of the Loch it was a glorious experience and I am delighted to have made that trip. Yet I do have one regret for it means there is a part of the West Highland railway – the bit alongside Loch Long – that I have still never travelled.

An AA Key

March 14, 2015

Finding my leather key fob from Knaresborough, yesterday, found me another item which I thought was worthy of remembering on the good old blog. It was my AA key, still attached to that leather fob. I just took it off so that it would lie flat for a photo.


Back in days past, members of the Automobile Association all had such a key. Scattered around the country the AA and the rival RAC had special phone boxes for members. They were more spacious than the standard box and had little extras like notepaper and pencil inside.

I took a look at an AA box on this blog and you can see it here.

This key has no great age. I became a car owner in 1970 so it probably dates from then. It has the ‘modern’ font for AA. Earlier keys had a font that was rather more antique looking.

Of course, I don’t own this key. As a member of the motoring organisation – who would thus come to help you in the event of a breakdown – I was entitled to hold a key. The reverse of the key makes this ownership clear.


I could have used the in about 1000 boxes. Now there are but 19 preserved and maintained. Well, we all use mobile phones now! So I have another useless souvenir of a past time.


Brockley – Then and Now

May 28, 2014

When I was a student, back in the late 60s, I lived at Brockley in South East London. It was then that I bought my much loved Canon Demi camera off a destitute fellow student. I didn’t take many pictures for I couldn’t afford film or processing. Here’s one I did take. It shows Brockley Station.


This was actually taken in early 1970, just before I left to start my life in the world of work. I’m not much good at identifying the cars now, but clearly they are no longer what people would call modern. I notice that both of the nearest cars have proper wing mirrors, mounted on the front of the car.

The station building itself looks homely and friendly in a Southern Railway style. The station was on the original London to Brighton line, but main line trains didn’t stop there. Brockley was very much a suburban station with just New Cross Gate between it and the terminus at London Bridge.

Of course, these days you can do a now view without actually going there. This comes from Google’s street view.


The friendly old building has been swept away and replaced with a bus shelter type entrance. In fact it is hard to find anything which has remained the same. The old building may have been life expired but I’m not sure the present one looks enticing for potential travellers.