Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Victorian railway - travel back in time. . . . .

I came across this very important, to me, greeting card many years ago.
I have never sent it to anyone because I cannot part with it!  From the first glance I thought this was me!  It isn't, but it could have been!  Clark's sandals, Peter Pan collared dress, straight bobbed hair.
Growing up at the seaside in Devon actually didn't require taking a holiday there, it was an everyday place. It was home. In summer we often ended days at the beach at Torquay station, just a short walk from the beach, to take the short run to the next station along the line. There, we'd hop on the local bus to our village, riding up a lengthy slow rising hill with views of blue Tor Bay beyond the rolling fields. It was a beautiful place to spend a childhood in the 1940's-50's.

An online newspaper article a couple of weeks back featured 
the same station, the headline read. . . . . . .


Apparently the station fails to comply with the law on equality. Major changes are being planned to modernize and install elevators in the two towers so all passengers can use the footbridge to cross between the two platforms. Makes sense, should have been done long ago to assist disabled people as there is no step-free route between the platforms. 
The building is listed because of its historic importance and a surviving example of Victorian railway architecture. It was opened in August 1859, later being rebuilt in 1878 as Torquay grew in popularity as a major holiday resort.

My station photos were taken in May 2019, actually the last trip home as we've been unable to get back since the pandemic hit. Sadly, last year's trip was canceled, and although we are lined up to go this spring, it's looking doubtful with quarantine issues etc.  
That lovely sunny day in May we traveled by train to Cornwall to meet up with longtime blog friend Barbara (also known as Elizabethd at Small Moments). We had the most fun time with her, she is a special lady in many ways.

"A little girl curls up on the train seat at the end of a seaside holiday, 
clutching her bucket and spade, her comics and a rag doll."  
PICTURE POST cover - 1946 (Haywood Magee)

It took a lot of research to find the original photo used on the card. 
Note there are railway workers outside the window, 
and the caption is 'The End of the Holiday.'
I recall the plush velvet upholstery. Overhead there would have 
been a netting 'shelf' to put baggage, and the ticket taker would
 come round with a friendly smile. Those were the days of
the wonderful steam trains.

Sitting here this morning I had a wonderful surprise outside the window.
One of those 'being in the right place at the right time' moments.
A true gift!  
I will share with you later in the week. . . . . . and yes, it's all about 
'the birds' again, of course!

Stay safe - well - and warm.


  1. Dear Mary - I really loved and enjoyed your reminisces - in someways they parallel my own. However, as a child I never travelled by train as my father drove a Morris Ten which carried us off for our holidays. I can still recall the excitement as all of our suitcases were securely strapped onto the rack at the back of it.
    The first time that I ever went on a steam train was when J and I visited his parents in Surrey. For me, this also included the excitement of going across London and catching the Tube for the first time.

  2. What a wonderful memory. I have fond memories of Victorian train stations. My son loves to watch Great British Railway Journeys which features many Victoria train stations and I think they are so lovely. They really take you back to a different era.

  3. A lovely blog post. We occasionally catch the train to Torquay and have a wander and maybe lunch.
    It’s a ten minute trip down the line for us.
    I’m trying had to get back to blogging and I remember your old blog from a few years ago!
    Hope you are keeping safe and well.
    Sal 😁

  4. Dearest Mary,
    That is a historic post card, as it was from the very FIRST FREE end of holiday, after WWII!
    Precious and it sure tells a story to those that know about that era!
    Can't believe that there was no elevator yet... how did people with handicaps or God forbid, in wheelchairs, ever manage?!
    Good that finally this is being corrected.

  5. The place you grew up sounds lovely. I hope you are able to go back soon.

  6. What a lovely nostalgic post! The station looks well kept, such a contrast to my hometown‘s one which is one of the least attractive parts of town - and unfortunately it is also the first and last place a visitor will see when they travel here by train.

  7. Mary, apart from the hair (mine was in blonde plaits) we could have been the same little girl right down to the shoes! We travelled on trains to go on little holidays to Wales, and I so rememebr the netting shelf, I was worried that things would slip through!
    It was such a nice day we spent together in that funny little town...with taxi adventures too!

  8. You didn't mention the ankle socks and the spade. Wooden handle and red (Always red) metal blade, usually viciously sharp. Proper childhood attire from the 1930s to 1960s! I never travelled on trains much in my childhood. Way too expensive.
    ElizabethD is one of the loveliest ladies I know. It is always a joy to spend time with her.
    How I long for the time when we can all have the opportunity to visit friends and hug and enjoy a cup of tea and a chat together...

    1. Reading this I feel overwhelmed to know such kind and generous friends.

  9. You were very cute, evidently! Those pictorial magazine covers really made it hard to resist buying them, and I can see why the photos went on to have a life of their own. Such a better idea than the same old celeb-faces with too much text over the graphics.

    I'm hardly a train-spotter yet I love our little old railway stations. They're not quite so grandly embellished as Torquay, but Victorian-era confections can still be found. There aren't many left without some form of sensible access and architects are getting better at marrying the old with the new in quite pleasing ways. Hopefully Torquay will surprise and delight!

  10. Dear Mary,
    I thoroughly enjoyed this look back at travel via train. The station itself is beautiful with the columns and decorative ironwork. I'm glad it will be made more accessible while still preserving the history. Yesterday, I perused the Avalon river cruise site, dreaming and longing of the day when we can once again travel. How wonderful that will be.

    The card with the little girl is such a sweet one. I hope one day soon you will be able to return to your homeland.

  11. Dear Mary, it gave me quite a shock when I read that they will modernise the Torquay railway station -- then I read that it is "listed" so I grew calm again..

    Why I was so agitated? Well, I gave my friend Anne - shortly before Covid-time - a present: a voucher inviting her to go with me to Torquay (I had that splendid idea after re-viewing a Miss Marple movie with Joan Hickson) - and two month later, on my birthday in December, I got her voucher promise, an invitation for us two for High Tea in the Ritz in London.
    So: we have something to look for!!! But hopefully we don't arrive on a building site!

    British Railway stations often are so beautiful - as the postcard is, and yes, I see you in it: sitting there (is the correct English word maybe 'lolling'?) - exhausted but deeply satisfied at the "end of her holiday".

  12. Such a wonderful post!! I have probably told you in years past ~~ of all my wanderings about the UK, Devon and Cornwall were my favorites!

  13. When I saw the opening picture I gasped - what a fantastic image of its time. Clarks sandals - I remember those too - and daisy sandals in summer. I lived at the seaside as child, though in the north of England and I remember the holiday hordes that would arrive by train from Scotland each summer - Glasgow fortnight we used to call it. Happy day.

  14. That is certainly a sweet picture. I can see you in her.
    What lovely memories of this beautiful train station.

  15. Mary, I do hope the 'modernisation' preserves the Victorian beauty of Torquay railway station. It is a beauty! The brightly painted pillars are so appealing, especially the striped one. I can see why you identify with the little girl in the photo - it is so nostalgic. I had a pair of shoes exactly like those too :) I am sure you are longing to go back, and I do hope it becomes possible one day soon. xxx

  16. Dear Mary,
    I remember those wonderful days when a little girl could travel by train alone. I took the train to school every morning. To this day I still love trains and look for opportunities, especially when in Europe.
    Thank you for bringing back happy memories. I hope you get to go on your trip very soon.


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