England and Scotland
June 2nd-July 1st, 1979

Don Winter

Saturday, June 2nd, 1979

The proximate cause for this trip is a speech that Don has to give at the Institution for Information Science annual conference in Torquay. We have tacked on three weeks of vacation to this, including family visits in Exmouth, where 5-year old Henry will spend the entire four weeks, visiting with his cousins. Accordingly, Don, Chris and Henry set out late on the Saturday afternoon for the long flight to England. On arrival at LAX for our Pan Am flight to Heathrow, we find that the plane will be several hours late. One of the people waiting alongside of us, but who will travel first class, is the American tennis player who will eventually lose the men’s singles final at Wimbledon, the week after we return. Eventually, we depart, about three hours late.

Sunday, June 3rd, 1979

Naturally, we’re still three hours late when we land at Heathrow. This means that when we call Exmouth to let the family know we’re late, Mum and Jill have already left for Exeter to meet the train we expected to take. When they call home to let Dick know we weren’t on the expected train, he tells them we’re still at Heathrow. Meanwhile, we’re validating our two first-class BritRail passes and getting three tickets for the Air-Rail Connection coach to Reading. After a quick trip down the M4 to reading, we buy Henry’s single ticket to Exeter, and check the timetable for the next train to Exeter. While we’re waiting, a Class 47 and a set of Mark 1 carriages pulls in with roofbaords saying the train is going to Oxford, Worcester, and Hereford. This gives me an idea for later in the vacation. A train for Exeter, Plymouth, and Penzance is next in the same platform, so we find the first class carriages and board.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-3-79

5:08 pm

Reading-Exeter (St. David’s)

Mark 2s

Class 50

After we get settled, the first call for dinner is made, so we go to the Restaurant Car and have dinner. We’re almost finished with dinner when the train stops at a station. I look out, and see station nameboards saying “Swindon”. This isn somewhat of a shock, as I had expected the train to be using the normal Berks and Hants route through Newbury. Apparently, this is a diversion due to Sunday track engineering work. After we’ve returned to our seats, we stop in Chippenham, and then turn off the Bristol line down the branch to Bradford-on-Avon and Westbury. At Westbury, we rejoin the normal route to Exeter, sopping at Taunton before arrival at Exeter St. David’s. Mum and Jill are on the platform to meet us. After greetings (I havn’t seen Jill in 13 years, and she has never met Chris or Henry), we drive to Exmouth, where Henry is put to bed in the same room as his co-eval cousin Alex.  Mum, Chris and Don then head to mum’s flat, a couple of streets away, where we chat for awhile and then go to bed.

Monday, June 4th, 1979

Monday is spent at mum’s and/or Jill’s (we meet Henry’s younger cousin Chris, as well), walking around Exmouth, and poring over the BR all-line timetable mum has bought for us. One thing we learn from this timetable is that a tunnel has collapsed North of Berwick, making it impossible for us to cover that section of the East Coast Main Line on this vacation. (We’ll be bussed between Dunbar and Berwick when the time comes.)

 Tuesday, June 5th, 1979

Tuesday morning is more of the same. In the afternoon, we leave Henry behind with Jill, Dick, and his cousins, and the two of us take the Torbay Express from Exeter to Torquay.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-5-79

3:27 pm

Exeter (St. David’s)-Torquay

Mark 2s

Class 50

One of the people in the first class carriage we travel in is trying out parts of a speech on his neighbors, whom he obviously knows. It transpires that this will be the banquet speech at the Conference, on Thursday evening. On arrival in Torquay, we are transferred to the hotel by the conference organizers, meet david Pleasance from Rank Xerox, who has been assigned to watch over us, and attend a pre-conference reception.

Wednesday and Thursday, June 6th and  7th, 1979

At the conference. I give my speech on Wednesday and attend conference sessions both days. My speech (on the predicted state of Personal Computers and Micrographics in 2001) isn’t particularly well received, mostly because the attendees have never heard of personal computers and want to talk mainly about micrographics, whereas I want to tell them that micrographics will be eclipsed by PCs and large severs storing full-text files complete with graphics (with hardcopy output to all-points-addressable laser printers). On Thursday, we attend the banquet, and later meet Tony Woodward, whom I had known in university days in Southampton, from 1962-65, who is now a technical information specialist for the British Foreign Service, in Kenya.

Friday, June 8th, 1979

After a morning’s conference session and the usual lunch, we leave in the afternoon. Many of the attendees take the same train that we do from Torquay, but change at Newton Abbot for a through train to London. We stay on the local train to Exeter.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

 

6-8-79

2:18 pm

Torquay-Exeter (St. David’s)

DMU Class 116

 

After being picked up in Exeter, we’re driven back to Exmouth, where we spend the evening with the family.

Saturday, June 9th, 1979

.Today, we’ve arranged for Ian Dalgleish and his family to come down from Bristol for a visit. They arrive mid-morning, so the two faimilies (but not Henry’s cousins) head for the beach in Exmouth, where the children and wives get to know each other. We arrange with Ian and his wife that the day we visit bath, we will also go to Bristol to have dinner at his house. (Ian has been to our house in Sierra Madre a number of times during his visits to Pasadena.)

Sunday, June 10th, 1979

After saying temporary goodbyes to Henry, we’re driven to Exeter, where we catch an afternoon train to London to begin the main part of this vacation.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-10-79

3:55 pm

Exeter (St. David’s)-Waterloo

Mark 2s

Class 33

Since this is Chris’ first trip to England (and Scotland),we planned the next couple of weeks to get to as many of the historically or scenically important places as possible, traveling by train for most of the trips, but not specifically trying to cover as many different routes or miles as possible. We chose to take the ex-LSWR route up to London, today, because we will be covering the ex-GWR route more than once (we had expected), including the final leg within England, on the way back to Heathrow. Because we’re encumbered with the luggage on this part of the trip, we don’t get off in Salisbury to visit the cathedral, although we do see it from the train. On arrival in London, we take a taxi to our hotel.

The hotel we will stay in for the next 15 nights is located on a side street just of Leicester square to the south, ending in a passageway that goes alongside the National gallery and out onto Trafalgar Square. Right on Leicester Square is a bank where we can exchange our travelers’ checks as needed, so things are located quite conveniently. This evening, we eat generic tourist food near Piccadilly Circus.

Monday, June 11th, 1979

A general tour of London is included with our two weeks of “Freedom of London” passes (that cover all of the Underground and London Buses), so we spend the first part of our first full day in London traveling around the City and the West End on the top deck of an open-top double-decker bus. We spend the rest of the day on general orientation, and on the start (by visiting Foyle’s, on Charing Cross Road, of course) of our quest to complete my collection of Regional Histories of Britain’s Railways, and Henry’s Collection of Thomas the Tank Engine books. We will almost achieve both, at least as of the books available to date, but it will take many bookshops and bookstalls, in many towns and cities, to get as close as we do.

This evening we eat at an Indian restaurant on one of the side streets between Leicester Square and Charing Cross Road.

Tuesday, June 12th, 1979

This morning, we head for Kew Gardens. We walk from the hotel to Leicester Square Underground Station, where we take the escalator down to the Piccadilly Line platform.

We take the first westbound train, since they all go through Earl’s Court station. At Earl’s Court, the Piccadilly line platforms are still below the surface (the line emerges just a bot further West), while the District Line platforms are above the surface. The westbound District Line platform is an island, with trains going to different destinations on either side. Since there are three possible destinations of westbound District Line trains, two of them reached at off peak hours from the same platform, we have to be careful which train we get on. As it happens, the first westbound train to arrive is heading for Richmond (and thus goes through Kew Gardens station), and we get on. At Kew Gardens station, there is only a couple of hundred yards’ walk to the entrance to the Gardens themselves. We spend the next several hours walking around the gardens, and through the hothouses. This is a fascinating place, that contains plants from every part of the former British Empire, and then some.  In one hothouse is a prized Yucca that is smaller than the one we have outside in the backgarden in Sierra Madre, after its recent pruning!When we leave the gardens, we walk into Richmond and stop at a pub for lunch.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

 

6-12-79

am

Leicester Square – Earls Court

Piccadilly Line

 

6-12-79

 

Earls Court - Kew Gardens

District Line

 

6-12-79

1;20 pm

Richmond - Windsor

EMU, Class 405

 

6-12-79

5:14 pm

Windsor - Waterloo

EMU, Class 405

 

6-12-79

 

Waterloo - Leicester Square

Northern Line

 

From Richmond’s joint BR (Windsor line and North London line) – District Line station, we take a Southern Region electric service to Windsor (Riverside). Walking down Windsor High Street towards the castle entrance, we learn from a newspaper bulletin board that John Wayne has died. We take a tour of Windsor Castle, covering as much as we can in one afternoon. (Even though my parents, Jill, and I had spent a week staying just outside Windsor, back in 1961, I had not been into the castle before. This was typical of Winter family vacations, where we never seemed to go into anything that was going to charge entrance fees.) The castle comprises a number of buildings, of various time periods, plus the grounds, all of which were interesting to see. On leaving the castle, we stopped for afternoon tea (scones, jam, and clotted cream) at a High Street café, before walking back to Riverside station for the train back to Waterloo (covering the same ground as before, as far as Richmond)). From Waterloo, we took the Northern line back to Leicester Square, then traveled up the (at the time) tallest escalator in the world, from the deepest subway platforms in the world.

This evening we ate Chinese food at a restaurant not far from the hotel.

Wednesday, June 13th, 1979

For our first “out-and-back in a day”, via BR, we’ve chosen to go down to Southampton, to take a look around the University where I spent my undergraduate years. Since Southampton trains leave from Waterloo, we first retrace out steps of last night, going down that very tall escalator on the way. It’s much more impressive going down that up. At Waterloo, after visiting the bookstall, we board our electric train to Southampton.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

 

6-13-79

am

Leicester Square – Waterloo

Northern Line

 

6-13-79

9:35 am

Waterloo – Southampton

EMU, Class 430

 

6-13-79

12:42 pm

Southampton - Bournemouth

EMU, Class 430

 

6-13-79

4:41 pm

Bournemouth - Waterloo

EMU, Class 430

 

6-13-79

 

Waterloo - Leicester Square

Northern Line

 

The way these services are run is quite interesting: since the front eight cars of the train go through to Weymouth, but there is no third-rail beyond Bournemouth, only the four cars nearest London are powered with third-rail pickup shoes and traction motors. The rest of the train is nearly-identical trailer stock, that will be taken on from Bournemouth to Weymouth by a Class 33 locomotive.

On arrival in Southampton, we exit on the South side of the station, walk up to the Civic Center, and turn North onto The Avenue. In University days, 15 years earlier, my friends and I had thought nothing about walking between University and city center, through the woods of Southampton Common. So, I elect to walk out to the Highfield area, where the University is, today. It’s quite amazing how much further apart the two areas have become in the past fifteen years! Eventually, we reach the University, and look around at all the places long familiar to me. They’re all there, surrounded by much construction in the intervening years. Many local houses are now used as University offices, clearly awaiting the time a new building will go up on the land they occupy. I remember the places as they were on sunny days (which, of course, was only a fraction of the time I was there), but today there is a heavy overcast, so all these grey concrete buildings seem gloomy. In addition, it is exam time, so there are very few people around mid-morning. So, after having something to drink at a nearby hostelry, we take a bus (running a different route from the ones they ran in the early ‘60s) back to the city center, where we take a train onwards to Bournemouth.

As we cross the New Forest, the sun comes out., and by the time we reach Bournemouth, a fine day has broken out. On the way from the station to the sea front, we follow the signs intended for vehicles, not people, and so walk twice as far as we needed to. (We get it right on the way back.) We have lunch, and then set out westwards on the promenade, past all of the bathing huts and portable windbreaks. Eventually, we reach Branksome Chine, were we walk up to the cliff top. Here, we find the Western terminus of a bus route that runs along the cliffs, with an open-top bus awaiting. We take the bus back to the center of town, and walk among the flower gardens along the Bourne. Late-afternoon, we walk back to the station, and climb aboard the waiting powered section of the train back to London. Soon, the rest of the train arrives from Weymouth, our section moves over once the locomotive has been removed, and we’re soon on the way back to Waterloo.

This evening we eat Chicken Kiev at a Chop House near Leicester Square.

Thursday, June 14th, 1979

Today, we’ve chosen to stay in town to visit the Tower of London, the streetscape of “The City”, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Fleet Street. To get things started, we take the Underground to Tower Hill (a station that wasn’t open during my several previous visits to London, even though it had been open in the early part of the century.).

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

 

6-14-79

am

Leicester Square – Embankment

Northern Line

 

6-14-79

 

Embankment – Tower Hill

District Line

 

From Tower Hill station, it’s a short walk to the Tower itself, where we take an extended guided tour that occupies most of the morning. (In 1961, my family had visited the Tower, but only on one of the shorter tours that didn’t go around the buildings.) Both the inside of the White Tower, and the Crown Jewels, are new to me and prove very interesting indeed. We also observe the place where Anne Boleyn ‘lost ‘er ’ead’, Traitor’s Gate where waterborne prisoners were brought in from Westminster, etc., and the space between the inner and outer walls, where all the resident staff live.

Leaving the Tower, we walk through the City, past the Bank of England and the Stock Exchange, Lloyds of London’s offices, etc., until we reach St. Paul’s. We look around the outside, but when we go in we can only look at a few parts of the interior, because a mid-day service is about to start. So we resume our walk westward, stopping for lunch in the vicinity of the railway overbridge carrying the lines to Holborn Viaduct and (closed) to Farringdon via Snow Hill, next to Blackfriars’ station.

Walking on, we pass through Fleet Street and the Strand, then along the Victoria Embankment, past the paddle-wheeler Tatersall Castle that once ran across the Humber between Hull (Victoria Pier) and New Holland, to Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey. There is no service going on at the Abbey, so we do get to take the interior tour, including the Chapter House, as well as walk around the outside. Then, we walk back to the hotel across the back of Horse-Guards Parade and through the Admiralty Arch.

This being Thursday, when the shops stay open till 8pm, we do some shopping in the West End, then eat Indian food (at a different restaurant) for dinner.

Friday, June 15th, 1979

The advent of High-Speed Trains has stretched the concept of what can be reached in an “out-and-back in a day” trip to include visiting places up to 200 miles from London. So today, we’re going to South Wales, which is reached by HST (InterCity 125) from Paddington. Paddington is best attained by using the Bakerloo Line from Picadilly Circus, rather than starting from Leicester Square Underground station, so we start out with a quick walk over to Piccadilly Circus, and catch the Bakerloo up to Paddington.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-15-79

am

Piccadilly Circus - Paddington

Bakerloo Line

 

6-15-79

9:15 am

Paddington-Cardiff

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

6-15-79

2:05 pm

Cardiff-Swansea

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

6-15-79

3:45 pm

Swansea-Paddington

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

6-15-79

 

Paddington – Piccadilly Circus

Bakerloo Line

 

The journey to South Wales is over most of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s original low grade, lightly-curved line up the Thames valley through Reading, Didcot, and Swindon, until the Severn Tunnel line diverges at Wootton Bassett. From London to Didcot (where the Oxford line diverges) there are four tracks where Brunel’s original broad guage tracks were situated. (From Reading to Wootton Bassett, this is the same track we covered on our arrival, on the diverted train to Exeter, but today we can see it in full daylight and full knowledge of where we are.)  Before reaching the Severn Tunnel, we pass through a small station with a large parking area, called Bristol Parkway, which has the areas all around it covered in semi-detached houses. We will find out later that Ian Dalgleish lives to the North of this station, even though his house is in the Bristol urban area. Even in an HST, it takes several minutes to pass through the Severn Tunnel, after which we pass through Newport and then stop in Cardiff where we alight.

Our initial intended destination within Cardiff is the Castle, so we walk over to, and then up, the High Street leading to the Castle. When we get there, we find it is closed for a show-jumping event, so we continue on to the buildings that comprise the Welsh National Museums. Of these, the Museum of Science and Industry/Technology includes some fascinating cutaway models of the coal mines and steel mills, as well as models of the coal docks, that have long been the focus of the South Wales economy, albeit fading in recent years.

On leaving the museums, we retrace our steps to the High Street where we eat lunch and visit another bookshop in search of Thomas the Tank Engine books. Then we return to Cardiff General station, where is see a train of Mark 1 coaches headed by a Class 37 locomotive, with roof boards saying this train is for Hereford, Shrewsbury, and Crewe. For a moment, I’m tempted to change platforms and take that train, but then our HST for Swansea pulls in and we board the usual first class carriage. On the way to Swansea, we pass some of the modern steel mills in the Bridgend and Margam area. Swansea itself isn’t very interesting, although a bookshop in the High Street yields more Thomas books, so we return to London in later afternoon, on an HST that takes us back on the same tracks we traversed on the way out.

Tonight, we eat at a Steak House in the West End.

Saturday, June 16th, 1979

This is the Queen’s “official birthday”, celebrated mainly by the Trooping of the Color Ceremony in HorseGuards’ Parade. This means that central London, in particular the area between Buckingham Palace and Whitehall, will be very crowded. We decide to skip all that, and go to Canterbury instead. The crowds make it impractical to walk  over to Victoria station, so we take the tube, but even there the Victoria Line train south from Green Park is jammed with people.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

 

6-16-79

am

Leicester Square – Green Park

Piccadilly Line

 

6-16-79

 

Green Park - Victoria

Victoria Line

 

6-16-79

10:40 am

Victoria – Canterbury (East)

EMU, Class 411

 

6-16-79

2:01 pm

Canterbury (West) - Margate

EMU, Class 411

 

6-16-79

3:28 pm

Margate - Dover

EMU, Class 411

 

6-16-79

5:29 pm

Dover – Charing Cross

EMU, Class 411

 

Fortunately, the train from Victoria to Canterbury (one of those built for the Kent Coast electrification in 1958-59) is much less crowded, especially in first class. After passing through the Medway towns, the train splits into portions for Margate/Ramsgate and our portion for Dover via Canterbury. WE get off in Canterbury, and walk into the medieval town, where we walk around both town center and cathedral, noting the site of Thomas Becket’s assassination. After a lunch of traditional fish and chips, we take a train from the other Canterbury station through Ramsgate to Margate.

We spend some time on the seafront in Margate, watching the ‘yobs’ down there for a sunny Saturday, before returning to the station and taking another train down to Dover (passing through Ramsgate again, in the process). We walk around the Dover Harbor area for awhile, then get on yet another “Kent Coast Electrification” train from Dover back to Charing Cross station in London. Unlike much of the track we have covered so far, I have been along the route between Dover (in that case, the Marine station on the harbor, not the Town station we used today) and London before, on my way to and from Salzburg and Vienna, in July 1966.

We have Italian food for dinner, at a restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue, just up from Piccadilly Circus. The London version of “Italian” has only general resemblance to the American version of “Italian”. The Italians probably disclaim both.

Sunday, June 17th, 1979

We retrace our steps to Victoria using the same method as on Saturday, but then take a train from the “Brighton” side of Victoria (ex-LBSCR), as opposed to the “Chatham” side (Ex LC&DR, later SECR) we used yesterday. Beyond the suburban area, the Brighton electrification is a quarter-century older than that to the Kent Coast (due to WWII delays and austerity afterwards). We’re heading for Brighton, although like yesterday afternoon, I have been along much of this track before on the way to and from Newhaven Harbor on the school visit to Touraine in May, 1958.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

 

6-17-79

am

Leicester Square – Green Park

Piccadilly Line

 

6-17-79

 

Green Park - Victoria

Victoria Line

 

6-17-79

10:10 am

Victoria - Brighton

EMU, Class 423

 

6-17-79

2:37 pm

Brighton - Victoria

EMU, Class 423

 

It’s heavily overcast in Brighton, with intermittent drizzle, but we walk quite a distance both ways along the promenade, and ride the Volks Electric Railway also along the beach, and have lunch, before deciding that this isn’t really worth the effort. I think about taking a train along the “Coastway West” to Portsmouth, but them I remember seeing posters saying that the direct line between Portsmouth and London is closed today for engineering work, so we simply return to London. From Victoria, we walk back to the hotel via Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Fountain, then spend some time relaxing in our room before going out for dinner.

We eat at a Chinese Restaurant in Soho that has a newspaper clipping posted showing a review from the Pasadena Star-News!

Monday, June 18th, 1979

We still have some things to do in the center of London, so we take no train trips today. We walk down Whitehall and past the Houses of Parliament to the Tate Gallery, where we view both the Constable and Turner collection, and the Modernists, then back to the National Gallery where we see, inter alia, the daVinci cartoon. Then, we go to the British Museum, where we spend some time with the Egyptian and Greek collections, looking in particular at the mummies and the Elgin marbles. I tell Chris about my 1961 question to a nearby member of the museum staff, in which I asked if there were real dead bodies inside the mummies, and was assured that there were! We then walk north towards the University, have a late lunch, stop in at the IERE Offices in Gower Street, and go to Euston for seat reservation for next Monday’s Royal Scot, back down Tottenham Court Road, then through Covent Garden past the Royal Opera House and former flower and produce marketplace.

I espy some Geographia railway maps in a shop window, so we go in and buy copies, which I later color in to show our journeys on this vacation. Dinner tonight is at an expensive French Restaurant near Oxford Circus. The food is very good, but is it really sufficiently better than other places we’ve eaten to justify the price differential?

Tuesday, June 19th, 1979

Today, we’re going to York to see the Castle Museum, the Minster, and the National Railway Museum. So we head for King’s cross as soon as we’re done with our included breakfast.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-19-79

am

Leicester Square – King’s Cross

Piccadilly Line

 

6-19-79

9:35 am

King’s Cross - York

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

6-19-79

6:04 pm

York – King’s Cross

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

6-19-79

 

King’s Cross - Leicester Square

Piccadilly Line

 

I’ve been on the London – Doncaster segment of today’s route many times, although never with quite such a short transit time to Doncaster as we have in today’s HST. The route onwards to York I had covered twice in the same day, in 1961, but not otherwise (since it bridged the ends of  two routes from Hull, and crossed another, that were the normal ways of getting places from Hull).

In York, we visit the Castle Museum (in the old government and prison buildings, adjacent to Clifford’s Tower), which has added a number of additional “Street” scenes since I had listed visited it 20 years previously. At the museum, we see an operational grain mill operated by water wheel, down by the River Foss behind the museum. We then have lunch, go to the Model Railway Club, through the Shambles to the Minster, around the Minster inside and out, then to the NRM. Inside the NRM, I remark that I had been inside the building before, when it was a pair of operational roundhouses forming part of the York Motive Power Depot of BR, NER (50A). I’ve also seen some of the long-time museum inhabitants when they were in the old NER/LNER York Museum, located in the original York & North Midland engine shed, (and some of the others in actual BR operation in the ‘50s and ‘60s). It’s good to see all of the preserved locomotives and carriages, but I’m sorry that there isn’t a comprehensive guide book to the NRM collection available at the gift shop. In its absence, I’m unable to list most of what we saw on the floor of the museum.

Returning to the station, late in the afternoon, we find the platform for the London train is very crowded. It transpires that the previous train to London (which has come from Aberdeen) is very late and hasn’t been here yet. The train I intended to take is behind it, and will also be late as a result. We decide to eschew the crowded (or about to be crowded) Aberdonian when it arrives, watch it leave packed to the gills, and get on the nearly-empty train from Newcastle a few minutes later. We eat dinner in the Restaurant Car on the train, thus avoiding the task of getting dinner after our mid-evening arrival at King’s Cross.

Wednesday, June 20th, 1979

Today is the day we’ve set for visiting Ian Dalgleish and his family at their home in the northern part of the Bristol urban area. So again, we head for Paddington to start the day.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-20-79

am

Piccadilly Circus - Paddington

Bakerloo Line

 

6-20-79

9:20 am

Paddington - Bath

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

6-20-79

3:30 pm

Bath – Bristol (Temple Meads)

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

6-20-79

9:10 pm

Bristol (T.M.) - Paddington

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

6-20-79

 

Paddington – Piccadilly Circus

Bakerloo Line

 

We’ve covered most of this route before, except from Chippenham down into Bath and over to Bristol. For the first leg today, we’re only going to Bath. This train is just five minutes later than the S. Wales train we took on Friday, a pattern that repeats on a clockface timetable throughout the day (with additional trains in the early evening).

In Bath, we visit the Abbey, take a comprehensive tour of the Roman Baths, and have lunch. The we set off up the hill looking for the Crescent, but only find the Quadrant – the Crescent is in the one direction from the Quadrant that we don’t take, but Chris finds some feline friends to visit wit.h Then we head back down the hill, walk across the bridge with the shops on it, and then through some lovely gardens. Then, we pass alongside the Somerset County Cricket grounds where a match is in progress that we watch for awhile. In mid afternoon, we walk back to the station and take another HST onwards to Bristol. We call Ian, who comes to the station to pick us up, then drives us around all the local sites (in Bristol, and out by the Severn Road Bridge) before going to his house for dinner. Ian tries to find a train from Bristol Parkway back to London (using telephone inquiries), since that station’s much close to his house, but the last one of the day has already gone, so he takes us back to Temple Meads for a late evening train back to Paddington.

Thursday, June 21st, 1979

This is the day that picks up on my observation of the roofboards showing “Worcester” while we were waiting at Reading on the day of our arrival in England. So, we again start the day by heading for Paddington.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-21-79

am

Piccadilly Circus - Paddington

Bakerloo Line

 

6-21-79

9:55 am

Paddington - Worcester

Mark 1s

Class 50

6-21-79

2:37 pm

Worcester – B’m’gham (New St.)

DMU, Class 116

 

6-21-79

4:50 pm

Birmingham (New St.) - Derby

Mark 2s

Class 47

6-21-79

5;54 pm

Derby – St. Pancras

Mark 2s

Class 45

6-21-79

 

King’s Cross – Leicester Square

Piccadilly Line

 

The route to Worcester is along Brunel’s main line to Didcot, then North through Oxford and branching Northwest on the old Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton line across the lovely Cotswolds. On the far side of the Cotswolds, we pass over an overbridge over the old Bristol and Birmingham line that became part of the Midland and then the LMS, instead of the Great Western, and arrive at Worcester (Shrub Hill). The station is, indeed, at the top of a hill, so we have quite a walk down into the city and to the cathedral on the banks of the Severn. We spend some time looking around the cathedral and town center, walking along the banks of the Severn, and then eating lunch.

It’s half-day closing in Worcester, so we can’t do any shopping, even though we find something in a shop window that we wanted to buy. I had originally planned the Worcester trip for Wednesday, and Bath for Thursday, but that didn’t work out with Ian’s plans, so we ended up (unknowingly) with the wrong day to go to Worcester. By mid afternoon, we’re back at Shrub Hill, taking a suburban train into Birmingham New Street, via Kidderminster and Dudley.

In Birmingham, which like Worcester I’ve never been to before, we walk around the Bull Ring shopping center, including passing a ballroom that has clearly suffered a catastrophic fire in the one too distant past. Soon, we return to the station and take a cross-country express onward to Derby. There we transfer to a Midland line train bound for St. Pancras station in London. From Didcot onwards, all of the track we have covered today has been completely new to me, as well as to Chris. The trainshed at St. Pancras is as impressive as always (I’ve stepped in here before, although never previously ridden a train in or out), as is the neo-Gothic St. Pancras Hotel (no longer used as a hotel) outside. The Underground station here is the same one that serves the adjacent King’s Cross, so we take the Piccadilly line back to the hotel.  We eat “American” food this evening.

Friday, June 22nd, 1979

We’ve decided to spend this day visiting two quite different former royal palaces and their environs, in two different directions along the River Thames. Both are reachable by suburban electric trains on the line sof the former Southern Railway. WE start out taking the tube to Waterloo, then along the former LSWR main-line through Surbiton to the flying junction for the short branch to Hampton Court.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

 

6-22-79

am

Leicester Square - Waterloo

Northern Line

 

6-22-79

9:26 am

Waterloo – Hampton Court

EMU, Class 418

 

6-22-79

2:14 pm

Hampton Court - Waterloo

EMU, Class 418

 

6-22-79

2:58 pm

Waterloo (East) - Greenwich

EMU, Class 415

 

At Hampton Court, we take a comprehensive tour that takes us through the main buildings, including the cartoon gallery and the kitchens, as well as the state rooms, through the conservatory housing the celebrated vine, and around the grounds including the tennis court (NB: not ‘lawn’ tennis) and the famous maze. By the time we’re done with this, we’re both ready for a sitdown and some lunch. Then it’s back to the staion for the return trip to London and onwards to Greenwich

On the train from Hampton Court back to Waterloo, I’m dozing off, when a man sitting adjacent to me tries to steal my camera. Fortunately, Chris is awake enough to stop him, and I’m wide awake afterwards! On arrival at Waterloo, we head over the footbridge to Waterloo (East), on the old South-Eastern Railway line, where we take another suburban EMU that passes through London Bridge and along the original London & Greenwich line (mostly up on brick viaducts all the way from Waterloo) to Greenwich station. From here, it’s only a short walk to the palace alongside the Thames, where the Greenwich meridian is, the observatory used to be, and the clipper ship Cutty Sark is maintained in dry dock. We quickly decide we aren’t up to another palace tour today, but we do take the tour of the Cutty Sark.

We return from Greenwich on a riverboat that takes us up the Thames as far as Westminster Pier (adjacent to the House of Commons). The transition along the river banks from gritty dockland warehouses and pubs (e.g. the Pride of Whitby) to the City and then the office buildings along the Victoria Embankment is interesting, if a little depressing in terms of what it means for the people of the docklands.

This evening, we eat English food in Soho.

Saturday, June 23rd, 1979

Oxford, our primary destination today, is on the route of the train we took to Worcester, so we take that same train today as far as Oxford.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-23-79

am

Piccadilly Circus - Paddington

Bakerloo Line

 

6-23-79

9:55 am

Paddington - Oxford

Mark 1s

Class 50

6-23-79

2:00 pm

Oxford – Birmingham (New St.)

Mark 2s

Class 47

6-23-79

4:38 pm

Birmingham (New St.) - Banbury

Mark 2s

Class 47

6-23-79

5:50 pm

Banbury - Marylebone

DMU, Class 119

 

6-23-79

 

Marylebone – Piccadilly Circus

Bakerloo Line

 

The primary interest in Oxford is in the architecture of the various Colleges, so we spend some time just walking around them, covering the whole area between the meadows along the river and the main street. Afterwards, we discuss what to do next, conclude (especially since it is starting to rain) that we’ve seen all that it is reasonable to see in Oxford. We decide to return to London, but by an alternate routing: North to Banbury, and then along the Princes Risborough line to Marylebone. A check of the timetable reveals that we can either spend two hours waiting in Banbury (which I know from passing through it a number of times while driving between Southampton and Hull in university days has nothing to occupy two hours mid-afternoon), or go all the way to Birmingham, returning via a somewhat different route in time to catch the same train from Banbury. So that’s what we do.

Our northbound train goes into Birmingham by the Solihull route from Leamington onwards, past Moor Street and through the connecting line into New Street. We visit the Ian Allan bookshop in the concourse of New Street station, buying some plastic model kits of British steam locomotives from days of yore. Then, our return train takes us through Coventry and then down the ex-LNWR branch to Leamington, thence retracing our steps to Banbury. In Banbury, we change into the DMU for Marylebone. This takes us along the GWR’s 1910 cutoff-line that was assembled/constructed to give the GWR a competitive route from London to Birmingham. The Chiltern countryside through Princes Risborough and High Wycombe is lovely, the sort of place I could imagine living if the weather were more reasonable (like that of coastal Southern California). Too soon, we’re at Northolt Junction, where we take to old GC line into Marylebone station.

We go back to the Chinese restaurant in Soho for a different sampling from their menu.

Sunday, June 24th, 1979

We had intended to go to Yarmouth, today, our last full day in South Eastern England, using DMUs from Norwich and back to Norwich. However, mechanical difficulties changed our plans. Nonetheless, we started out with that intention, taking a train from Liverpool St. to Norwich via Ipswich.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-24-79

 

Leicester Square – Holborn

Northern Line

 

6-24-79

 

Holborn – Liverpool Street

Central Line

 

6-24-79

9:30 am

Liverpool Street - Norwich

Mark 2s

Class 47

6-24-79

3:45 pm

Norwich – Liverpool Street

Mark 2s

Class 47

6-24-79

 

Liverpool Street - Embankment

Circle Line

 

The start from Liverpool Street station, up Bethnal Green bank is OK, but near the top of the climb, well before we get to Stratford, the locomotive fails and the train comes to a stop. The crew gets it restarted after awhile, but with two more failures before we get to Chelmsford, we’re now about 90 minutes late. No time is recoverd the rest of the way to Norwich, through the East Anglian countryside, but no more is lost, either. However, the Sunday timetable shows that there is now no way to take any side-trips from Norwich before beginning our return journey. So, we elect to spend the time looking around rainy Norwich.

We get to the cathedral with no difficulty, and spend some time looking around it, outside and inside. By the time we come to leave the inside, the rain is pouring down, so we scurry to a nearby hostelry where we have something to eat and sit by the fire (at the end of June!). After the rain slows done somewhat, we walk by the castle and through the old part of the town center, then return to the station..

Our train for Liverpool Street goes back via Ely, Cambridge and Bishop’s Stortford. WE see the lovely cathedral at Ely, from the train, and then stop at the long main platform in Cambridge. Then it’s on down the old GER line from Cambridge to Liverpool Street. While I had never been in the rest of East Anglia before, I had covered the line from Ely to Cambridge on a diverted Hull-King’s Cross train making its way around engineering works somewhere between Peterborough and Hitchin, on a Sunday in January, 1963 (during the deep-freeze). We return to the hotel using a different Underground routing.

For dinner, we have Italian food (including the strange local version of Pizza) near the London Coliseum where the English National Opera operates.

Monday, June 25th, 1979

This is the morning in which we leave our hotel of the last two weeks, and head for Scotland for a couple of days. We take a taxi to Euston, to head north for Edinburgh using the Royal Scot train on the West Coast Main Line, as far as Carstairs.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-25-79

10:45 am

Euston - Carstairs

Mark 3s

Class 86

6-25-79

 

Carstairs – Edinburgh

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

 (We had intended to go via Glasgow, but the tunnel collapse on the ECML has led to provision of Edinburgh connections from WCML trains, including the Royal Scot, so we take advantage of that.) The WCML is entirely new to me, except for occasional encounters at places like Crewe and Oxenholme in 1961 and 1958, respectively.  Another engineering diversion causes us to take the secondary line through Northampton, rather than the main line through Roade. North of Rugby, along the Trent Valley line, we repair to the Restaurant Car for lunch. While the meal is excellent, its most memorable moment was when the state of the track caused the carriage to lurch just as the waiter was in the act of ladeling the soup into one of our bowls, resulting in a ladle full of soup on the tablecloth, not in a bowl. Matters are soone rectified (including a clean tablecloth), and we’re done with lunch by the time the train passes Crewe. WE stop at Preston, then pass thorugh Lancaster and climb through the Lune Gorge (ruined by the addition of the M6 motorway) and up Shap bank. After Carlisle, we climb again up Beattock bank, then drop down the upper Clyde valley into Carstairs. Here, our HST connection is waiting at the adjacent platform, and soon has us in Edinburgh, where we take a taxi the few hundred yards (and couple of hundred feet upwards) to our hotel.

After settling in at the hotel, we cross the valley in which the railway is located, and walk the Royal Mile, but can’t get into the castle due to preparations for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s performance that evening.. We eat Scottish Food at the Royal Station Hotel, for dinner, then return to our hotel in the 10pm twilight..

Tuesday, June 26th, 1979

By 3 am, it’s light again outside, but we’re not yet ready to get up! When we do get up, we decide to maximize the amount of Scotland we see using trains, rather than limiting our coverage just so we can visit Edinburgh Castle. So, we walk down to Waverley station and take the morning train to Inverness.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-26-79

9:50 am

Edinburgh - Inverness

Mark 1s

Class 26s

6-26-79

2:47 pm

Inverness - Aberdeen

DMU, Class 120

 

6-26-79

6:20 pm

Aberdeen - Edinburgh

HST Mark 3s

Class 43

The first class carriage we find to sit in is the first compartment stock we’ve seen in the entire time we’ve been here. After crossing the Firth of Forth on the magnificent Forth Bridge, the Ticket Collector enters our compartment just as Chris is saying something about “ever since we came to England”. As he checks our Britrail passes, he corrects her gruffly: “You’re in Scotlan’, noo”. The train continues along through the hills of the “Kingdom of Fife”, before turning northwest towards Perth. It isn’t really possible to see much of Perth itself, from the train, but we’ve decided to see the Highlands, not Perth (since there’s insufficient time to do both). The train continues through Pitlochry, Blai Atholl, and the Pass of Killicrankie, climbs up to the first summit at Dalnaspidal, drops down to the ski resorts at Aviemore, then climbs again over the second summit at Slochd, before dropping down past Culloden and into Inverness. We eat lunch on the train

In Inverness, we go to a bank to cash a traveler’s check. Here, for the first time all vacation, Miss McDougall behind the counter ntoices the difference between the on-check signature I had previously signed with my left hand, and the verification signature I had carelessly signed right-handed in front of here. She calls over her manager, who hears my explanation, looks at the signatures, and tells her not to “be daft”, and the cash the traveler’s check. We’re sure she got a talking-to after her shift was over!

We’re returning via Aberdeen, so we can cross the Tay Bridge as well. The train from Inverness to Aberdeen, via Elgin, is a slow local DMU, comprising two units with the buffet in the other unit from the one we’re seated in. In Aberdeen, we have time to look around the city center, before catching our HST to Edinburgh. This time we’re prepared with our own liquid-refreshment supply! The Restaurant Car in this train isn’t serving dinner, so we presume on the hours stated on a placard in our room, for serving dinner at the hotel. South of Aberdeen, the train runs along the North Sea coast, with wonderful views along the cliffs. We pass through Montrose, Arbroath, and Dundee, the climb up on the Tay Bridge and cross the Firth of Tay. Visible alongside are the remaining piers of the ill-fated original Tay Bridge. Soon after crossing the Tay, we return to the line we used going North, this morning, again cross the Forth Bridge, and return to Edinburgh.

We get to the hotel restaurant at 9:25pm, against a stated closing of 10pm, only to be told by the maitre-d’ that the restaurant has closed for the night. I refuse to accept this, and we go off in search of hotel management. The assistant manager on duty turns out to be a representative of the US owner of the hotel (Exxon), who support my view that the placard in the room should prevail, and escorts us back to the restaurant to tell the staff so. We are, indeed, served the Scottish food of our choice, and then repair to the lounge for awhile. While we’re there, the assistant manager comes in to check up on us, making sure that his instructions were obeyed. We assure him that they were.

Wednesday, June 27th, 1979

This is the day that our anticipated travel arrangements have been disrupted by the Penmanshiel tunnel collapse. To make the cross-country train to Penzance run to time South of Berwick, we must leave Edinburgh an hour or so earlier than we had anticipated. So, we take a taxi back to Waverley station, and board the “shuttle” HST that will take us for the first leg of our interrupted journey, to Dunbar.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-27-79

8:50 am

Edinburgh - Dunbar

Mark 2s

Class 47

6-27-79

10:43 am

Berwick-on-Tweed - Exeter

Mark 2s

Class 47

At Dunbar, the entire trainload of people boards buses, which take us to Berwick-on-Tweed. On the way, we pass the site of the tunnel collapse, and observer the remedial work in progress (a double track line bypassing the tunnel site). At Berwick, we find our usual first-class carriage and settle down for the long trip to Exeter. Immediately South of Berwick, the train runs along the top of the cliffs above the North Sea, with a good view of Lindisfarne island where the Venerable Bede wrote his early second Millenium histories. We pass Alnmouth and then Morpeth, and enter the Newcastle-on-Tyne urban area. We enter Newcastle station passing over the famous flat crossings next to the castle, and soon leave over the King Edward Bridge over the Tyne.

A few minutes later, we’re curving around the bend of the War, at Durham, with the Castle and the magnificent Cathedral visible in the loop of the river. We continue through Darlington to York, along the famous level “racetrack” where some of the earliest color-light signalling (in the UK) was installed. Leaving York, we head towards Church Fenton, rather than towards Selby on the ECML, then through Gascoigne Wood and Pontefract, via  the York and North Midland route to the original North Midland line (now the Midland main line), at Normanton. We pass through Normanton station (looking very run down indeed) and take the North Midland line through Cudworth to Sheffield, through areas that once were rife with prosperous, productive, coal mines, but now are the picture of decay, eating lunch along the way. Approaching Sheffield, we see that the landscape that formerly was hidden behind the dense emissions from steel mills is now visible, suggesting that steel production, too is largely a thing of the past. (The decline herabouts mirror that of South Wales, alluded to earlier.)

(A few years previously, mining subsidences on the Normanton/Cudworth route had forced all York – Sheffield services onto the Swinton & Knottingley route that my Bournemouth – York train had taken back in March, 1963, but now all services are going via Normanton due to subsidences on the S&K route. I has asked a coal mining official, in the early ‘50s on one of dad’s “City Schoolboys” soccer trips, why taking out all of that subterranean material in the mine didn’t cause the ground above to collapse, and got an answer that basically said “it doesn’t”. Well, now we know that indeed it does!)

From Sheffield, we head South, via Chesterfield (with its twisted spire) to Derby, Burton-on-Trent (with still productive breweries), Tamworth (where we cross the WCML we had traveled on Monday), and Birmingham.(New Street,), with the route from Derby the same as we had used the previous week. On departing New Street, we head around through Bourneville, past the Cadbury factory, and then down the Lickey Incline, such an operational problem (especially northbound) during the steam era, so easily conquered with today’s diesel motive power. We pass through Cheltenham and Gloucester, and then arrive in Bristol. After Bristol, we eat dinner in the Restaurant Car, crossing the Somerset Levels. Soon after dinner, we pass through Cogload Junction (where the line from London joins), and Taunton, and then arrive in Exeter. We are driven directly to mum’s flat, since the boys are already in bed at Jill’s house.

Thursday, June 28th, 1979

Soon after arising and having breakfast, we walk over to Jill’s house, where we greet Henry, who seems ecstatic to see his mother (if not, perhaps, his father).

The rest of the day is spent on family activities in Exmouth. Dinner tonight is at a fancy restaurant NE of Exmouth, with Mum, Jill, Dick, and all three children.

Friday, June 29th, 1979

Today, Chris and I need to go to Exeter, to get a ticket for Henry’s train ride back to Reading and Heathrow on the morrow. This requires that we visit a staffed BR station, of which the nearest is Exeter (St. David’s). We decide to take the local DMU from Exmouth into Exeter, do some shopping, and then go down to St. David’s for the ticket.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

Loco

6-29-79

9:33 am

Exmouth – Exeter (Central)

DMU, Class 116

 

6-29-79

11:27 am

Exeter (St. David’s) - Plymouth

Mark 2s

Class 50

6-29-79

2:28 pm

Plymouth – Exeter (St. David’s)

Mark 2s

Class 50

6-29-79

4:01 pm

Exeter (St. David’s) - Exmouth

DMU, Class 116

 

We walk down from mum’s flat to the Exmouth station, so sadly reduced in size and status from the days when it was the terminus of two separate branch lines off the LSWR (and later SR) line to the west country, and the destination of so many summer holday makers and the trains that carried them. Along the way to Exeter, we pass (inter alia) through Lympstone Commando station, used by servicemen and women, and alight at Exeter Central, the former LSWR station in the center of town. We do some shopping, and the touristy things in Exeter (such as visiting the cathedral and looking at the half-timbered buildings), and then decide we should use the rest of the day riding trains, once we’ve bought Henry’s ticket for tomorrow.

After walking down to St. David’s, and buying Henry’s ticket for the trip back to Reading, we take a train through Newton Abbott and across the South Devon banks to Plymouth. In Plymouth, we walk down to Plymouth Hoe, take in the sights for awhile, and then have lunch in that area. Then we return to Exeter, across those same South Devon banks and along the Teignmouth-Dawlish seawall. On this train, we pass along the Ewest bank of the Eze, then later on the Exmouth DMU along the East bank of the Exe. The connection from St. David’s back to Exmouth climbs up the same steep bank we had traversed nearly three weeks previously, through Exeter Central, and then onto the branch at Exmouth Junction. In Exmouth, we walk back to Jill’s house, where we have dinner before going back to Mum’s for one last night in Exmouth.

Saturday, June 30th, 1979

This is the day for goodbyes. These are quite hard, because it may well be the last time that Henry, Chris, or I ever see mum. (She’s already lost one breast to cancer, and has said she will not come to California again since it takes too much out of her.) Dick brings the car around, with Alex along, and after some awkwardness, the five of us leave for Exeter, with mum staying behind. At St. David’s, Chris, Henry, and I head for the platform our train will leave from, while Dick and Alex take up a position from which they can better watch all of the trains, not just ours. Soon, our train for London arrives, we wave our last goodbyes, and board our first class carriage.

Date

Time

From-To

Train Stock

 

6-30-79

9:38 am

Exeter (St. David’s) - Paddington

Mark 2s

Class 50

We’ll take this train as far as Reading. The route as far as Westbury is the same one we took four weeks ago, but beyond Cogload Junction, we see it in the daylight for the first time. Later, we pass through the Vale of the White Horse, where the horse is clearly visible. (I have traveled this way before, back at Easter 1949 on a family trip from Hull to Exeter and back—to visit the people dad had lodged with when he was in the RAF and stationed at Exeter—when I was just about the same age Henry is now!) Too soon, we arrive in Reading and transfer ourselves and the luggage to the waiting coach for Heathrow. At Heathrow, we call the hotel to get their van to come collect us, which it soon does. At the hotel, we check in and go to our room, then ponder what to do with the rest of the day.

We had planned to take Henry into London, this afternoon, but now we’re reconsidering. To do so would require that we take the hotel’s van back to Heathrow, and then ride the Piccadilly line into London (and the reverse on the return). No-one seems up to this, so we don’t go anywhere at all, but instead laze around the hotel, have dinner there, and go to bed.

Sunday, July 1st, 1979

Today, we get up late, since our flight to Los Angeles is mid-afternoon, and we’re starting our time adjustment in just the smallest of ways. At the appropriate time, we take the hotel’s van over to Heathrow’s Terminal 3, where we check in, go through emigration, sit in the waiting room for awhile, then board our PanAm flight for LAX. The flight home is uneventful. In LA, we’re picked up and driven home. Tomorrow is a work day, even though the middle of this week is the Fourth of July.