First memories of a London terminus?

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R Martin

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A School Trip to the "Festival of Britain" in 1951 and waiting at Victoria and watching an electric loco pulling out with a boat train. (Probably a Newhaven boat train with a SR "Booster" Loco on he front) The blue flashes from the 3rd rail shoes lit up half of south London! I still remember the sight, almost 70 years ago.
 

rogercov

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A School Trip to the "Festival of Britain" in 1951 and waiting at Victoria and watching an electric loco pulling out with a boat train. (Probably a Newhaven boat train with a SR "Booster" Loco on he front) The blue flashes from the 3rd rail shoes lit up half of south London! I still remember the sight, almost 70 years ago.
Ah yes, the Festival of Britain! My first memories of frequent train travel were also from that era. These were shopping trips to Oxford Street with my Mum, which involved a train ride into Charing Cross. I don't remember much about the station itself (it's not the most exciting London terminus), but the approach really made an impression on me. I can still picture the South Bank Exhibition with the dome and the Skylon.

I was disappointed when the exhibition site was demolished in 1952. I was upset that the Skylon had gone. My parents told me it had moved somewhere "up North". They hadn't the heart to tell me it had been scrapped!
 

365 Networker

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Kings Cross between 2006/2007. I remember the original Wagn interior of the 365, and coasting down into the station, with loud track joint sounds and diesel fumes wafting in through the open windows - from a GNER HST going the other way. I then remember waiting at the doors (in a push chair as I was still very young) and I could just about see through the door windows and I could see the platform and those bright yellow ball lights - we got off and I was nearly deafened by the sound of the HSTs. I then remember being taken into the old concourse and being fascinated by the pigeons that were flying around. I also remember the phill sayer announcements - I can still remember frequently hearing “Please do not leave cases or parcels, unattended anywhere on this station. Any unattended articles are likely to be removed - without warning” .
 

75A

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A School Trip to the "Festival of Britain" in 1951 and waiting at Victoria and watching an electric loco pulling out with a boat train. (Probably a Newhaven boat train with a SR "Booster" Loco on he front) The blue flashes from the 3rd rail shoes lit up half of south London! I still remember the sight, almost 70 years ago.
I remember my first experience of this. I was a secondman on 'the papers' can't remember if it was the Brighton or Eastbourne's. As we left the platform at Victoria and went through all the gaps in the 3rd rail towards the Grovesnor Bank the 73's shoes kept making and breaking creating a spectacular display, the driver was falling about laughing at my face. Quite a lot of drivers used to leave Vic using the diesel engine, to combat this.
 

CBlue

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1990s Liverpool Street station for me. It hasn't really changed in all those years although it's a shame Ponti's isn't there any more. Remember getting cooked breakfasts in there as a teenager after catching early morning trains down. Still have a soft spot for the 317's even in their twilight years.

Pre-rebuild King's Cross was the other memory, didn't think it was too bad at the time but in hindsight it was a appallingly scruffy mess of a station.
 

superjohn

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1990s Liverpool Street station for me. It hasn't really changed in all those years although it's a shame Ponti's isn't there any more
Ponti‘s was excellent. A little pricey but sitting in the back section with a big cooked breakfast, while looking down over the trains coming and going, was a treat I occasionally allowed myself.

A Parcel Yard pub was due to open in the unit but the pandemic seems to have put that on hold. Hopefully it will open eventually.
 

52290

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My own first trip to London was in 1954 when I was 10. My junior school in Leyland organised the day trip and I was pleased to go on it because I was already a spotter. The train to Euston we caught at Leyland didn't normally stop there but because of our block booking it stopped for us. A Royal Scot was on the front end, I would have preferred a Duchess, but it was from Blackpool, so no chance. South of Crewe virtually everything I saw was a cop, including my first Southern locos around Willesden. We had a coach trip around London seeing the sights of which I remember little. The train back from the cavernous Euston was behind another Royal Scot and a special stop was made again at Leyland. My parents were waiting on the platform and we traveled home courtesy of J Fishwick & Sons.
 

Bald Rick

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Arrived Kings Cross, by car, to get a charter train to my new school. Went from an unadvertised platform, had to find the right bit of wall to push the trolley through... ;)

Couldn’t resist it, sorry. Lovely stories from all of you though.

Perhaps I’m jealous as I can’t remember mine. It would have been Waterloo, with Charing Cross about 10 minutes later; I’d have been a toddler, and I went fairly regularly from then on, so it never seemed special. I think my first trip to Euston was an eye opener, the trains and platforms at a different level to the concourse, and lots of locomotives...
 

EbbwJunction1

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Mine is around the late 1960s or early 1970s on a School Railway Society visit to London. We went from Newport to Paddington and then to (probably) Kings Cross and Euston; I'm pretty sure that we visited Finsbury Park MPD and possibly Willesden MPD but, apart from a group photo at Finsbury Park Station, I don't have many physical memories of what we did.
 

ABB125

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Mine is around the late 1960s or early 1970s on a School Railway Society visit to London. We went from Newport to Paddington and then to (probably) Kings Cross and Euston; I'm pretty sure that we visited Finsbury Park MPD and possibly Willesden MPD but, apart from a group photo at Finsbury Park Station, I don't have many physical memories of what we did.
School railway society? How times change; I'd have been laughed out of the building if I'd suggested such a thing!
 

DerekC

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Kings Cross, off a service from Hertford North, in about 1953. I remember two things really well. One was an array of steam power facing me at the main line platform buffer stops - I recall an A4 certainly and at least one A3, I think. The other was waiting for the train home at the suburban station and seeing a trainload of cows emerging from the City Widened Lines!
 

ABB125

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I was thinking that. Indeed any sort of society at school!
Apart from the "inhalation of smoke generated by the burning of strong herbs down the back access road to the school" society, of course! Though obviously it wouldn't be called a society; I'm thinking of a word beginning with C, that is reputedly a contraction of "Cheltenham average" (according to someone who grew up in Cheltenham).

Coming back on topic, I don't really have any overriding memories of any London terminals until fairly recently. I was impressed when I first went to Liverpool Street, in 2017 I think (fun day out visiting every terminal; St Pancras was the only one we couldn't get a train into/out from, because Southeastern high speed isn't valid on a Travelcard. And Thameslink doesn't count!). LST is also the only station where I've been told off for taking pictures of trains: I think I was on the concourse side of the barriers, probably in 2019, getting pictures of whatever was in each platform. Staff member said something incomprehensible, which I eventually worked out as "you can't take pictures, there are people in the pictures who haven't given you permission", so I just said "umm, ok" and carried on to wherever I was going next.
The first (and only) time I've been to Charing Cross was on that 2017 trip. It was in the dark, and I saw the building on top of the platforms lit up with coloured lights. My first thought was "have we teleported to Las Vegas?" :D
 
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Ant158

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For me, my earliest memory is arriving at Euston, going up the platform ramps and then going down to join the queue at the old taxi rank underground, wondering which cab would be ours.
 

EbbwJunction1

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School railway society? How times change; I'd have been laughed out of the building if I'd suggested such a thing!

I was thinking that. Indeed any sort of society at school!

My Comprehensive School was very good on that. As well as a Railway Society and it's offshoot a Model Railway Society, we hade several others, although as I wasn't a member of them, I can't remember any details.

The Railway Society was led by two teachers who were railway enthusiasts, and encouraged us to help with the running of it. We used to have a trip in the Spring of each year and, as well as the London one mentioned above, I know that we also went to Birmingham (Tyseley was included) and probably other places as well. They were good times, and fondly remembered.
 

ABB125

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My Comprehensive School was very good on that. As well as a Railway Society and it's offshoot a Model Railway Society, we hade several others, although as I wasn't a member of them, I can't remember any details.

The Railway Society was led by two teachers who were railway enthusiasts, and encouraged us to help with the running of it. We used to have a trip in the Spring of each year and, as well as the London one mentioned above, I know that we also went to Birmingham (Tyseley was included) and probably other places as well. They were good times, and fondly remembered.
Do you mind me asking how long ago that was? I can't imagine it would be very easy for teachers to organise such trips nowadays, what with safeguarding and health and safety issues. I suppose it might just be doable if there's a staff member who's really determined, but most would probably give up when confronted by the paperwork!
(I only finished sixth form last year, so am only familiar with very recent stuff.)
 

EbbwJunction1

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Do you mind me asking how long ago that was? I can't imagine it would be very easy for teachers to organise such trips nowadays, what with safeguarding and health and safety issues. I suppose it might just be doable if there's a staff member who's really determined, but most would probably give up when confronted by the paperwork!
(I only finished sixth form last year, so am only familiar with very recent stuff.)

No problem at all .... I went there in 1967 and left in 1975, and both Societies were active for a large part of that time. I think that the last visit was actually scheduled for 1976, which was after I had left; I remember that I asked to be able to join the trip and had received permission to do so. However, one of the depots (Neath Cwrt Sart) closed and permission to go to the other one (possibly Llandore?) was withdrawn, so the trip never took place. Although I did keep in touch with the two teachers for a while, I'm not sure for how long the two Societies were active after I left (and that's not claiming any self importance!).
 

ABB125

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No problem at all .... I went there in 1967 and left in 1975, and both Societies were active for a large part of that time. I think that the last visit was actually scheduled for 1976, which was after I had left; I remember that I asked to be able to join the trip and had received permission to do so. However, one of the depots (Neath Cwrt Sart) closed and permission to go to the other one (possibly Llandore?) was withdrawn, so the trip never took place. Although I did keep in touch with the two teachers for a while, I'm not sure for how long the two Societies were active after I left (and that's not claiming any self importance!).
Thanks - it's interesting to hear about how things were different in the past!
 

Peter C

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I think my first memory of a London terminus is probably Waterloo, but being firmly from the old Western Region, I prefer Paddington. ;)
Just like others' experiences, seeing the electric trains was brilliant before I'd even got to the capital. It'll date the story as being quite recent when I say it was on a 450, but it was still exciting. Seeing landmarks such as the London Eye on the way in was almost like a trailer for the day ahead! The hustle and bustle of Waterloo was apparent as soon as you got off the platform: people everywhere, all trying to get somewhere different; a massive change from the likes of Kingham. Going down onto the Underground and having a first ride on that was also really fun.

-Peter
 

EbbwJunction1

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Thanks - it's interesting to hear about how things were different in the past!
My pleasure. It's also worth noting that at least one other school in Newport also had it's own Railway Society and Model Railway Society, with both being similar to the ones at my school.
 

55002

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Kings Cross 1979. Arrived on 254023 (43100 & 43101) and my dad has a photo of 4 HST‘s lined up on platforms 3-6. No Deltics from what I recall sadly but 31405 was there with its FP white stripe. We also took in St Pancras, Euston, Marylebone and Paddington that day. Didn’t get to the other terminals until 1980.

My love of London terminals has extended to the Paris terminals too.
Mine would be very similar, although it would be 47 down from Newark, then seeing the Journey Shrinker entrances they had above the platforms for the new HSTs
 

Taunton

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Paddington, of course. Early memories include the fascination of taxis coming down the ramp alongside the train as we ran in, to wait in the middle of the platform. I'd already had pointed out as we rolled along the White Horse at Pewsey, Windsor Castle, and the neon dog insignia on the HMV factory at Hayes (I think that was probably on the homeward journey, in the dark). Brush Type 2, first ever seen, on the incline up to the North London line at Acton, where the track rises. Plus my first 15xx oddball pannier tank seen when passing Old Oak Common, sorry, can't remember the exact number. First ever Tube, Bakerloo Line 1938 stock, coming into the Underground platform at such a speed that I thought it must be a nonstop. But it stopped.

Whenever leaving Paddington nowadays and passing that brick walled-incline at Acton, I still fleetingly look at just where that Brush diesel would have been standing.

My mother had said that I would see all sorts of strange and different people in London, and I was Not To Stare. So we went down to the Underground and sat in the sideways seats. Directly opposite was an older lady, with a tea-cosy, a proper knitted one with a bobble top and the holes each side, on her head as a surrogate hat ...
 
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StephenHunter

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My mother had said that I would see all sorts of strange and different people in London, and I was Not To Stare. So we went down to the Underground and sat in the sideways seats. Directly opposite was an older lady, with a tea-cosy, a proper knitted one with a bobble top and the holes each side, on her head as a surrogate hat ...
Worked for Patrick Troughton in the war...
 

Busaholic

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Victoria station. Wish I'd gone in the Cartoon Cinema.
Charing Cross for me in the very early 1950s, possibly even very late 1940s. That too had a small cinema, one of very few accoutrements of the station: remember Pathe News, which in those days of most homes (mine included) not yet having TV was beyond exciting for a small boy. Not my first experience of cinema, though, as a friend of my grandmother used to take me to afternoon screenings at the local Odeon, once after a tram ride, so that dates it to pre July 1952. Victoria was a joy too: went with my grandfather, but primarily to see the buses at its marvellous terminus.
 

Ken H

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1960's Kings cross. Still steam, but our train was diesel. But I loved the huge bufferstops. Ransomes and Rapiers?

We were going to Folkestone to see grandparents. The trains at Charing Cross with no engine!. The Folkestone train coaxed into the platform because it was so long. (It had a portion detached at Ashford I think). We needed the front bit to usually went to the first coach.
I upst granded by announcing the train was on the wrong rails. I thought the electric railway would work like a train set with the current coming through the running rails! I was about 7!
 

Roger1973

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No specific first memory. Grew up in SE London, and going in to central London by train was something that Dad did every working day.

My first train journey was (I am told) via Waterloo East then Waterloo (Windsor Line) to visit grandparents in Reading, and can just about remember journeys via Charing Cross then (COP or R stock) on the District Line from Embankment (or may have been Charing Cross then) to visit the other grandparents in Ealing.

Having enthusiast parents, I visited (if not travelled in / out of) all the other London terminus stations in time to see Deltics at Kings Cross, St Pancras at its lowest ebb with class 45's on longer distance trains and tired DMUs on the Bedford locals, Broad Street which still had Festival of Britain logos on the windows of the (long closed) buffet, and we would occasionally take the more interesting journey to Reading via the Bakerloo Line (still with 1938 stock) and try and get something 47 or 50 hauled, or even occasionally a DMU on a semi-fast rather than HST from Paddington.

I missed Kings Cross before the GN suburban electrification, but the suburban platforms (11 upwards?) were still there for some time, and I can remember them in the 80s apparently just abandoned and still with indicator boards showing whatever the last departures must have been.
 
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Summer 1993, taking what I think was a relatively lightly loaded 465 from Greenwich to Cannon Street in the mid-afternoon. I remember being impressed with the train and with the scale of London Bridge station, though the terminus itself was a bit underwhelming. I believe I visited Kings Cross (which I remember as being full of IC225 sets in Swallow livery) and Liverpool Street in the course of the same trip to London, but didn't actually travel into them.
 

30907

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Liverpool Street around 1960. Dad took me there as part of a day out in London. All I remember was the station pilot (not sure which, J69 or N7) - I was too shy or scared to go on the footplate :(
It must have been the first main line station with steam locos I visited.
 

AM9

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I had been aware of GEML traffic from regular crossing of what was known locally as the 'iron bridge', - the long footbridge that crosses the centre of Ilford car sheds. I longed to see the Britannias, Sandringhams etc. close up where they turn round, but despite having been taken to parts of central London on many occasions by my grandfather, the journey was always by Central line from Gants Hill, thus Liverpool St (BR) was off limits. I did however crany my neck to look for passing trains at Stratford when we popped up to stop there.
When I was old enough to travel alone, LT Twin Rovers became available so I took the opportunity to pop upstairs from Liverpool St tube platforms. Rising up through the main exit I was in the West Side, busy with lots of noise, - the pish-tish of the Westinghouse air brakes compressors on the N7s (and I think a few J69s). The long intrusion of platforms 9 & 10 meant that those platfoms were accessible to non-ticketholders so their locos were in full view. The east side was by comparison as quiet as a municipal library with the occasional guard's whistle for a departing EMU.
 

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