Sunday, 21 November 2010

An Alternative Dimension...

This the Cottingham Railway station on the Hull to Scarborough line. A steam train is just about to come in from the Beverley direction - well it did in 1908.

Listening to the rain on the windows this quiet Sunday morning took me into a reflective mood. A trip to Cottingham in East Yorkshire yesterday (Saturday) to take some photographs for our latest hobby assignment brought back some memories of the village where I was brought up. I even parked outside the house I lived in for the first half of my life as my middle son and I wandered around with a book of old photographs of the village.

We took some photographs from the exact position that the original photographer used and my son merged the old with the new, a couple of which I've put on here. You should be able to click on any of them to enlarge them.

This is the shopping street in Hallgate, Cottingham. The ghostly images of horses pulling tree trunks transforms this scene. Cottingham was once said to have every species of European tree within the village boundaries due to having some keen collectors as residents. Those horses would have been heard clip clopping down the street about 1912.

The memories came back more so when we went to the railway station. I spend many happy pre-teen years hanging around the station watching the trains and at one point can clearly remember standing on the bridge over the lines being covered in smoke from the steam trains passing underneath on the Scarborough to Hull line. The line escaped the Beeching cuts of the late 1960s and I remember doing a petition in my school to save the line.

The flower beds were tended, coal fires raged in the waiting rooms, one for ladies and one for the gentlemen. Linoleum covered the floors producing squeaks from your shoes. As diesel trains took over from steam, the pervading smell of oil from the tracks would fill the air most days. I recall one porter, Ernie, a small rotund man who used to disappear down the lines every afternoon to replace the oil lamps on the signals, so the train drivers could see whether the signal was a go or stop after dark. Red fire buckets with sand lined the platform in the case of fire and wooden trolleys for luggage stood idly about.

This is St Mary's Church in Hallgate, where I was married 31 and a half years ago. This is a really spooky photograph in so many ways and I guess that none of the boys in the photograph from 1906 are alive today.

Racing pigeons would arrive at the station in lorries once a week and dozens of baskets of birds would be off loaded, fitted with rings and they would be let loose from the platform and dozens of birds would fly up, circle the station a couple of times and head off for home - a miracle of nature.

Porters would signal to the train guards with green flags when the train was safe to set off and off loaded passengers would wend their weary way home.

I used to help the porters when it became time to turn on the gas lamps on the platform and over the bridge on darker nights. The hiss of gas and bright flame on the mantels comes back to me as clear now as it was then.

Fun to look back over more innocent and simpler times.

My sincere thanks to John who put these photographs together for me. It's been a real pleasure to bring these photographs to life - enjoy.

Chat soon



  1. Nice - and that's an understatement :)

    I used to climb out of our upstairs bedroom window, onto the roof of the outside toilet, jog down to t'Wicker in Sheffield at 3:00 am.

    In those days, there was a fella in a lift in uniform at the side of the Wicker Arch's, which took you up to Victoria Station, where I'd cadge a ride on a footplate.

    They'd serve me bacon and eggs cooked on a shovel in the firebox, and I'd earn a few pennies taking over stoking it.

    They'd get worried if I didn't turn up, and always made sure I could get home in time to do the coal fire for when my dad got up for work in the steel works before school. My mother could never understand why I didn't want cornflakes :)

    Thank you for bringing back so many happy memories.

  2. Hi Wheelie
    You are very welcome - great memories you have and I'm very envious you being on the footplate! These stories shouldn't be forgotten but preserved for generations to come

  3. OOH very clever technomajiggery, I'm so impressed :) xxx

  4. Hi Auntie
    Many thanks - I think we should campaign for technomajiggery to be placed in the Oxford English Dictionary.

  5. It is brilliant how you got the perspective absolutely spot on when merging these photos.

  6. Hi Troy
    That was the most difficult part of taking the pics, getting the angles right and picking the right focal length, took several minutes in one case because we couldn't find the right spot to take the photo from.
    Cheers for the kind comment

  7. I love what you've done here. What a wonderful idea.
    It looks like a lovely place to grow up in.

  8. Hi Val
    yes it was although a large village, nevertheless it had village mentality and a very friendly atmosphere. My mother worked in a shop in the village and because she was so well known (she raised a lot of money for village charities) I couldn't do anything without being spotted!