Back to my childhood haunts

The day before going to Stuttgart, Maxine and I had the privilege of going to the wedding of a Chinese friend of ours.  An interesting experience, with the church service in Mandarin, translated back into English for the few English guests.  At one point, the translator slipped up and translated Mandarin into Mandarin, to everyone’s amusement.  It was also a fun afternoon, perhaps made more relaxed by all four parents still being in China.  And the reception had a lot of very good oriental food!!!


But the real, railway, point of this post is that the wedding was held in Petts Wood, 2o miles from our home, and where I was brought up from the age of two until after university.  I had never been inside the Methodist Church, but it is just next to the shops and Petts Wood station, one of my early trainspotting locations.

Petts Wood was built as a temporary wooden station by the (real) Southern Railway in the 1930’s, as the suburbs, and electrification, spread out from central London.  The station has never been rebuilt, although the goods yard has disappeared under a supermarket.  In the photograph below, the footbridge is just as I remember it (but it was SR green), as is the right hand half of the building.  The station has, however, been extended to the left, and more than doubled in size beyond the footbridge.


Looking up towards London and Chiselhurst Junction, a major junction where the 4-track Victoria-Kent Coast Lines are crossed by the 4-track Charing Cross-Tonbridge lines.  This gives Petts Wood excellent links to all the southern London Termini – Victoria, Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Holborn Viaduct, Waterloo (Eastern) and London Bridge (Eastern).  I remember the ‘new’ footbridge being constructed in the 1960’s.


Looking towards Orpington, the station has hardly changed, apart from the platform furniture and the paintwork.


A South-Eastern ‘Networker’ approaches on a through working.  In my day, the staple diet was 4EPB and 2EPB suburban EMU’s, and 4CEP fast workings.  Treats if you were patient were 6-car Hastings DEMU’s, and twice a day the ‘Golden Arrow’.  I can remember seeing it head south as I came home from infants school for lunch – must have been a Britannia Pacific on the front, but it was still worth spotting in later years with a Class 71 Bo-Bo electric on the front.  A limited amount of goods traffic and engineers trains passed through in off-peak hours.


Finally, a view of the shopping street.  In one sense hardly changed from the 1930’s, with the ‘Brewers Tudor’ shops.  But none of the shops seem to be as they were in the 1960’s.  Food shops have disappeared – replaced by the supermarkets – and there are a lot of restaurants and beauty salons, and ‘Card Factory’ and ‘Costa Coffee’.  An interesting social comment on changing times!


All in all, it was a very pleasant afternoon, attending an excellent wedding and stirring up a few old memories.

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Out and about, Prototype and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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