I still enjoy a visit to Brighton Station. Now I appreciate the Victorian engineering and architecture, and marvel at the mighty logistical operation that is our railway, but as a child it was the trains themselves that enthused me.
Station visits were a treat
Railways stations are – or should be – the hubs of our transport network. They are inherently exciting because they can take you to new destinations – and bring you home again. We used the trains a lot for day-trips, holidays, or visiting relatives – exciting journeys. Mum even used to take me to the station as a treat!
Stamping out my name
The giant, manually-operated indicator board would spell out odd names like ‘Barcombe Mills’ among the more familiar London, Worthing, Lewes, etc – helping to build my geographical awareness. There was a machine with a large dial which, for a penny or two, would stamp your name on a metal plate – I never understood the purpose, but it was fun.
A big fan of maps
Outside, by the bus stops, was a giant, coloured Geographia plan of Brighton and Hove, much better than the sixpenny corporation ones. I’ve always been a big fan of maps. One journey in 1971 took me along the fascinating Kemp Town branch line on its last day of operation, on a special passenger service.
A stimulating location
Now my wife and I use the trains mainly with our bikes, for days out or holidays. The name-stamping machine’s gone, the indicators are electronic, and Brighton Station is now a bright and airy place, but it remains a stimulating location full of activity.