Stations where spotters were not welcome

Czesziafan

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Not all stations or railwaymen seemed to welcome spotters.

I remember in the mid seventies there was one inspector at Birmingham New St who seemed to hate spotters. On one occasion this official, having asked to see my ticket, told me in no uncertain terms to get my train home or he would get the BTP to kick me off the station, his rationale being "if you're not a passenger, you're trespassing on the railway and that's an offence. I hadn't been doing anything wrong, just going from one platform to another to see the action and take a few pics.

I was wondering whether anyone else had similar experiences either at New St or elsewhere?
 
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Sounds like you were unlucky. Never had any problems at New St when I lived in B'ham in the late 70s.
 

pdeaves

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Well, I'll open the bidding on others' behalf and state 'Blackpool North'.

The one I've had (minor) issues at is Haddenham & Thame Parkway, just a couple of years or so ago.
 

bramling

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Not all stations or railwaymen seemed to welcome spotters.

I remember in the mid seventies there was one inspector at Birmingham New St who seemed to hate spotters. On one occasion this official, having asked to see my ticket, told me in no uncertain terms to get my train home or he would get the BTP to kick me off the station, his rationale being "if you're not a passenger, you're trespassing on the railway and that's an offence. I hadn't been doing anything wrong, just going from one platform to another to see the action and take a few pics.

I was wondering whether anyone else had similar experiences either at New St or elsewhere?

Blackpool North is the obvious one, though it does seem to be the case that if one asks to be allowed on the platform then it *may* be granted, depending on who’s on and what mood they’re in!

Others which have cropped up over recent years:
Anywhere on c2c and the London end of Greater Anglia
Tyne & Wear Metro
Wadhurst
Bexhill
Luton
Liverpool Street

In genera attitudes seem to have softened again over the last few years, after things got worse with the advent of private security and the general post 9/11 focus on “security”.

No doubt others will have experiences to add.
 

Pit_buzzer

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Chesterfield in the early 70s was very unfriendly, on my first visit in 1971 there was a fenced off pen on platform 2 which you had to stay in but on subsequent visits we were thrown out within a few minutes and had to sit on a wall outside the south end of the station near the goods shed
 

Bevan Price

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There were problems at St. Helens Central some years. Apparently started after a certain photographer claimed he could walk off the end of the platform because he knew "someone important".
 

Dave91131

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Not really a direct answer to the OP's question, I think this depends on how obvious the "spotter" is versus other passengers.

If one is, say, at the far end of a platform some distance away from all other passengers taking photos / recording numbers then staff's attention is more likely to be drawn to them (and hence possible questions as to what they are doing etc) than someone like myself who tends to stroll around from platform to platform, not take many pictures if any and hence probably blends in more with other passengers.

Prior to the pandemic I have hung around on all manner of stations (including some central London tube stations) waiting for "winners" and never encountered any issues.
 

Ashley Hill

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I went to Scarborough on a class 20 tour in the early 90s. The signalman in Falsgrave box objected to anyone passing his box to take photos of the signalling. Threats of BTP etc.
 

Czesziafan

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New Street was the only place where I had any problems. On a more positive note many railwaymen were quite happy that someone other than grumpy commuters was taking an interest in their industry and working practices. Paddington stands out as one of these. One day back in 1975 I asked a ticket collector if I might take one of the paper window labels from the up Golden Hind after arrival and before they cleaned the stock for the next working. He went away and returned not only with the said window label but also gave me some BR uniform badges as well.
 
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Again, on a positive note, Eastleigh seems to actively encourage enthusiasts. There are posters up saying that they are welcome, providing they follow all the usual things (stay behind yellow line, no flash etc etc).
 

PR1Berske

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To be fair, in my experience BPN don't even like passengers, let alone rail enthusiasts.

Was going to say BPN is the usual answer, and the usual way to have a thread closed as "query answered." I know it's a trope of this forum - maybe even cliche at this point - to mention Blackpool North in the context of unhelpfulness and attitude problems, but if it ain't fixed....
 

32475

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Only once and that was at Kings Cross shortly before the last Deltics were withdrawn. One objectionable member of staff refused me access to the platform to take a photo of the locomotive even though I had a platform ticket and showed him my Priv pass. The camera round my neck was a dead giveaway.
 

LowLevel

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New Street was the only place where I had any problems. On a more positive note many railwaymen were quite happy that someone other than grumpy commuters was taking an interest in their industry and working practices. Paddington stands out as one of these. One day back in 1975 I asked a ticket collector if I might take one of the paper window labels from the up Golden Hind after arrival and before they cleaned the stock for the next working. He went away and returned not only with the said window label but also gave me some BR uniform badges as well.
I managed to be on the other side of a similar exchange quite recently :lol:

I took a last ride on a HST out of St Pancras and as the train manager was someone I know well I popped in to the kitchen say hello. When I left he gave me a stash of window labels which personally I don't collect but my friends were very happy to have them.

I went out to get a photo and there was a young lad on the platform taking photos so I asked if he wanted a window label too and his face lit up - it was nice to see a little thing like that make someone happy!
 

SteveM70

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In the early/mid 80s we used to be out and about quite a lot and I don’t remember us having problems at New Street despite spending hours and hours there.

I do remember some aggro at Swindon, which was resolved by the station supervisor ruling in our favour, but nothing else.

Now, bunking sheds is a very different story……
 

Calthrop

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Have never myself encountered, over the decades, problems of this kind; have been, however, a traveller rather than a "spotter" as such. Have come across the odd grumpy rail employee; but figured that, down to temperament rather than hostility to "gricers" en bloc.

One thing which I've read about, and have found rather surprising: it would seem that around the 1950s / early '60s era, the Isle of Man Railway ("steam" kind) overall was, by policy, unfriendly toward railway enthusiasts: anyone lingering on railway property seemingly taking an interest -- and above all, taking photographs -- was, if detected, summarily "moved on". It appears that the railway's then General Manager -- would this have been A.M. Sheard? -- had no use for railway enthusiasts, regarding them as a nuisance to be "shooed away" (don't know whether this had any basis in negative experiences on his part, or whether it was just a quirk of his).

There have been so many pictures published of the IOMR during that period, that it seems obvious that a fair number of photographers must have "got away with it"; and it wouldn't have been possible to stop one from taking pictures of rail action, when not standing on railway property. Forget where it was that I read about the inhospitable Gen. Man. and his enforced policy; something by J.I.C. Boyd, maybe? I seem to recall that the author, whoever it was, managed to persuade the Gen. Man. that he was a serious student of railways; and got extra-ordinary permission to do his thing on railway property without let or hindrance.
 

scarby

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At Scarborough in the 1970s there was one station official, it may have even been the station master, who occasionally told me that my platform ticket was actually only valid for one hour. I don't recall anything coming of it (i.e. I wasn't compelled to buy a new one after an hour). As Calthrop posted above, I think that was down to him being grumpy / officious rather than hostility to enthusiasts. Most staff I found to be helpful and friendly and sometimes went far out of their way to be welcoming.
 

nickw1

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Stafford in the 80s (1983/84) was very bureaucratic.

In September 1983, staying with family in Stafford, I attempted to gain access to the platforms for a session of railway observation by buying a platform ticket.

Was denied access, as you had to apply for a permit to gain access to the platforms for railway observation. This required 24 hours notice, and we were leaving the next day - so it was a non-starter.

Had done the same thing in Feb '83 and there was no problem so presumably they had particularly officious people at the ticket barriers that day.

Next time (Dec '83) I borrowed a permit from my cousin, which was doubtless a very bad thing to do. ;) And the time after that (Aug '84) my parents got the permit for me, as we had got there in time for the 24-hour notice they needed. There was no cost for the permit, it was just a bureaucratic thing.

Then at Guildford in '86, on the way to East Croydon, I was accused of having an invalid ticket while waiting for the DMU to Redhill as apparently "it was his son's birthday today, so I know that date is not today". Er... I'd just bought the ticket from the office so the only logical conclusion was that said person didn't know when his son's birthday was.

At the other end of the scale, I visited Reading multiple occasions between 1984 and 1986 and was never harassed once - though admittedly I had travelled there by train and had a valid ticket, rather than attempting to enter the platforms with a platform ticket.

New Street was the only place where I had any problems. On a more positive note many railwaymen were quite happy that someone other than grumpy commuters was taking an interest in their industry and working practices. Paddington stands out as one of these. One day back in 1975 I asked a ticket collector if I might take one of the paper window labels from the up Golden Hind after arrival and before they cleaned the stock for the next working. He went away and returned not only with the said window label but also gave me some BR uniform badges as well.

Nice, reminds me of the time I was with another guy from school at Woking and he somehow blagged his way into 'cabbing' St Vincent. Driver was very friendly.

Found Reading had a pro-enthusiast ethos (see other post), enthusiasts there were very obvious but no-one raised objections and many staff seemed to be quite approachable and happy to have a chat. Seem to remember one member of staff giving some 'gen' about 'Invincible' and 'Howe' double-heading an Oxford stopper one occasion in January 1984, so to be on the look out for that working. Perhaps not surprising as Reading was the obvious go-to station for much of the South to see inter-city workings and a wide variety of traction. Also a very pleasant place to linger as it was a very open, non-claustrophobic station.
 
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6Gman

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At Scarborough in the 1970s there was one station official, it may have even been the station master, who occasionally told me that my platform ticket was actually only valid for one hour. I don't recall anything coming of it (i.e. I wasn't compelled to buy a new one after an hour). As Calthrop posted above, I think that was down to him being grumpy / officious rather than hostility to enthusiasts. Most staff I found to be helpful and friendly and sometimes went far out of their way to be welcoming.
He was correct. They were only valid for an hour. But very, very rarely enforced.

(If you look at an old-style platform ticket you will find they have numbers - 1 to 12? - printed along the edge. In theory the gateline clipped the appropriate number to show what time it had been used. Not sure how often it happened that way.)
 

Mag_seven

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Interesting to see that spotters still had problems at some stations back in the day. It is commonly said that its more difficult to gain access for spotting / photography today but some of the examples above just go to show that we are indeed sometimes guilty of wearing rose tinted spectacles.
 

nickw1

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He was correct. They were only valid for an hour. But very, very rarely enforced.

(If you look at an old-style platform ticket you will find they have numbers - 1 to 12? - printed along the edge. In theory the gateline clipped the appropriate number to show what time it had been used. Not sure how often it happened that way.)

Yes I remember that. I think at Stafford it was waived if you had the permit.

The problem was not so much that the ticket was only valid for an hour, but rather that there wasn't a more expensive version (12p rather than 2p, let's say... I'm sure I remember the price was 2p or something ridiculous like that) if you wanted to spend several hours on the station.

As the time limit wasn't enforced anyway, the railway would have actually made more money selling a longer-period platform ticket - so surprised that they didn't. Probably people (or their parents) wouldn't have had too much objection to paying even 50p, if it meant they weren't hassled while on the platform.
 

Grumpy Git

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Yes I remember that. I think at Stafford it was waived if you had the permit.

The problem was not so much it was only valid for an hour, but rather that there wasn't a more expensive version (12p rather than 2p, let's say... I'm sure I remember the price was 2p or something ridiculous like that) if you wanted to spend several hours on the station.

I remember them being 2p on Derby station round-about 1972/73 (i.e. post decimilisation). There was an old-fashioned mechanical vending machine on the wall near the entrance if my memory serves me correctly.
 
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Have never myself encountered, over the decades, problems of this kind; have been, however, a traveller rather than a "spotter" as such. Have come across the odd grumpy rail employee; but figured that, down to temperament rather than hostility to "gricers" en bloc.

One thing which I've read about, and have found rather surprising: it would seem that around the 1950s / early '60s era, the Isle of Man Railway ("steam" kind) overall was, by policy, unfriendly toward railway enthusiasts: anyone lingering on railway property seemingly taking an interest -- and above all, taking photographs -- was, if detected, summarily "moved on". It appears that the railway's then General Manager -- would this have been A.M. Sheard? -- had no use for railway enthusiasts, regarding them as a nuisance to be "shooed away" (don't know whether this had any basis in negative experiences on his part, or whether it was just a quirk of his).

There have been so many pictures published of the IOMR during that period, that it seems obvious that a fair number of photographers must have "got away with it"; and it wouldn't have been possible to stop one from taking pictures of rail action, when not standing on railway property. Forget where it was that I read about the inhospitable Gen. Man. and his enforced policy; something by J.I.C. Boyd, maybe? I seem to recall that the author, whoever it was, managed to persuade the Gen. Man. that he was a serious student of railways; and got extra-ordinary permission to do his thing on railway property without let or hindrance.
Might've been Ivo Peters who you were thinking of.
 

nickw1

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I remember them being 2p on Derby station round-about 1972/73 (i.e. post decimilisation). There was an old-fashioned mechanical vending machine on the wall near the entrance if my memory serves me correctly.

I think these were still there in 1983, 2p platform ticket issued by machine. Possibly shortly after that the price went up.
 
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A well-known Leeds driver once shared his Danish (topical point for today) pastry with me at King's Cross, before he headed off home on a class 91.
 

tommy2215

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Definitely Wimbledon. At least in the past, the staff have been pretty hostile to trainspotters (probably because of some incident there involving one). Also I don't really get this hate on Blackpool North, I was there very recently and the staff were very friendly. And as long as I signed in, I could trainspot on the platforms for as long I wanted.
 

Dave W

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Definitely Wimbledon. At least in the past, the staff have been pretty hostile to trainspotters (probably because of some incident there involving one). Also I don't really get this hate on Blackpool North, I was there very recently and the staff were very friendly. And as long as I signed in, I could trainspot on the platforms for as long I wanted.
It's the disdain for all - not just spotters - which causes ire about Blackpool North. I've never tried to do anything there as an enthusiast, yet all of my passenger experiences have been appalling - penned in til the last second then raced on to a train to ensure it doesn't leave late.

That said, the last I read of the station's reputation on here was a fair few months back (unless I've missed something) and I seem to remember there were noises that Northern had acknowledged the problem. So perhaps you were the fortunate benefactor of a recent change in attitudes...
 

The Crab

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Might've been Ivo Peters who you were thinking of.
It was JIC Boyd. He made contact with the Company chairman (and was invited to his home for a meal). The chairman instructed the General Manager to co-operate but, although the GM arranged some "tours", the co-operation was designed to keep Mr Boyd away from the railway!
 

Calthrop

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Might've been Ivo Peters who you were thinking of.
It was JIC Boyd. He made contact with the Company chairman (and was invited to his home for a meal). The chairman instructed the General Manager to co-operate but, although the GM arranged some "tours", the co-operation was designed to keep Mr Boyd away from the railway!

Thanks -- ages since I read of this business; I only thought "Boyd" because I've enjoyed what I've read of his stuff; and because of his having written a history of the IOMR (so far unread by me). When I first learnt of this, it had a bit of a bucket-of-cold-water effect on me: I anyway, had built up a picture of the long-ago Manx rail scene as for me, the ultimate railway idyll in all ways. A corrective against -- as mentioned by a poster upthread -- rose-tinted-spectacles syndrome, can be a healthy thing !
 

L401CJF

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A few years back I got collared by staff at Southport for walking to the end of a 6 car unit to take some photos. He asked what I was doing and explained, he asked me to come further up the platform as they get suspicious for suicide reasons etc. OK fair enough, so I walk back up, and start taking photos of a unit in the wall siding, only to be approached again and told I'd been told once and wouldn't be told again! Keeping in mind I wasn't trespassing or in any restricted areas. I finished taking my pictures and said OK I'm done now and jumped on a unit on the opposite platform back into town. First issue in over 20 years of spotting on Merseyrail!

On a positive note, a good 15 years or so ago I was at Hooton down the end of the platform (Not beyond the sign!) waiting for a rail tour from Chester to arrive. The phone on the signal began to ring, we ignored it. It rang again, so answered it and said hello, the signaller could see us from the box and said "it's just left Chester lads"!!

Been approached by the then Virgin platform staff down the far end of a platform at Crewe before numerous times and asked what we're up to, told them we were just spotting and they were all fine with us - presumably just checking there were no dark thoughts etc.
 

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