By Bengt Bjorkberg
Standing on a platform in Moorgate station and seeing a steam train roll in is not an everyday occurrence, but I had the pleasure of experiencing it this month. OK, it was not a surprise as such, I had gotten my tickets, and London Transport Museum had pulled out all the stops to ensure that this would be a truly unique experience. Not only were there a station manager and police constable in period clothing, there was even a brass quintet entertaining passengers in the station lobby, not to mention the number of passengers that had put on their Sunday best. In fact the number of fellow commuters who seemed to have period Sunday best, ca. 1880-1940 surprised me and I felt under dressed myself!
Whatever interest you may have in trains and underground transportation; there is something magical about the old carriages being pulled by a steam locomotive. I admit that I, like most six-year-olds, dreamt of becoming a train driver for at least a week, but also must admit that I have been known to call roadside assistance for a flooded engine, so I have no specialist interest as such.
Saying that, the sound, smell and sight of this mode of transportation still awakes some romantic interest in the old days and this journey showed me what it may have been like. From the old “What to do in air raids” posters that are still in the third-class carriages to the detailed re-creation of the gas lamps in first-class carriage 353, to the Metropolitan Railways coat of arms on the locomotive, it all served to make it a unique experience of how it used to be.
Even if you did not have tickets, there was a chance to see the train along its route as it travelled from Moorgate to Edgeware Road and back. Judging by the number of smiling TfL workers, Transport Police officers and commuters who took the opportunity so snap a picture, it was worth the standard fare to see the train go by.
Did you encounter any of the Steam and Heritage Train Journeys this January? Tell us about it in the comments below