Monday 25 August 2014

" Chasing after Dad"

Blog follower Geoff Parr emailed me with this account of a labour of love in retaining a small piece of railway history and  as a personal tribute to his Dad. I'm sure many of us can relate to holding treasured memories of our own fathers and the pride they took in their work.

Hello Bill,

I have been following your blog on the Broadway rebuild for quite some time, I am ‘riveted’  , to the regular updates posted and I am always seeing something new.
I am Southern Region, and my late father was a signalman/porter at his country station in Kent.  So, it must be said, that my ‘key’ interest in all of the rebuild is the Signal box!

I have happy memories of visiting my Dad, up at the station, from the early morning fry-up in the back office behind the booking office, with the plate layers’ walking up the platform in search of the heavenly smell of freshly fried bacon, that wafted down the station’s platforms.  To the winter afternoons’ visiting him in the signal box when he was on duty, tea-mug clutching and hearing the bell codes coming through.

As a lasting tribute to his memory, I have started a little project of my own.  I have sourced a very long oak shelf and has begun to build a replica ‘block-shelf’ and have dedicated it to him. 38 years he worked on the railway always the same stretch of line, our home track.  I have sourced many of the instruments needed for ‘his’ block-shelf.  Though recently, two final pieces came up at auction, that were needed to virtually complete the project.

But, I could not go for them as they were prohibitley expensive, which was a little bit painful as one instrument was from a box he had once worked and was the same type  which I needed to help complete the task.

I  will carry on though, until a more reasonably priced one comes up or I have to resort to ‘modifying’ a similar one to just get it to  ‘look’ the part, (as I am having to do at the moment). That is not something I take lightly as it is bordering on cultural vandalism, hacking something about, that might be over one hundred year’s old.  

The aim is to have something that my dads’ grandchildren and great grandchildren can see, touch and relate to………………and when I am too old to enjoy it safe guarding its future would be in the interest of the whole family.
It might go to a local museum where all can enjoy it, (but, that is for the future).

Right now, your efforts at Broadway are truly remarkable, outstanding and I would be down there everyday, if I was retired and lived locally.   Quite excited about the frame going in next week.

Well done the lot of you.


P.S. pictures enclosed are of my Dads’ last box.  
PPS My wife refers to my efforts as "Chasing after Dad"


Jo said...

The new Broadway station signal box has a faint link to the Ashford - Maidstone line. The guy making the mortar used to live at Westwell Leacon, and once crept up to Hothfield box in the dead of night to see what it was like.... it was a lonely place, and felt rather spooky !

Anonymous said...

Quite a number of railway signal boxes were in isolated locations, this was especially emphasized in winter when your relief couldn't get through snow drifts.
Charles Dicken's uses isolation, amongst other literary vehicles, to create suspense in the 'The Signalman'.