Chertsey and steam.

I am not sure how old I was when I first saw an electric train. We had been in the top fields of Mr Stanford’s farm, picking blackberries and trying the cider apples that grew in the hedge. The apples were small and very rosy but looks can be deceptive, tasting so sharp they were impossible to eat. I am sitting on the gate of Lyne fields next to the railway bridge watching my brother Don and Kenny Edwards. They are fishing for tiddler’s in Dummies stream flowing under the railway bridge, while I am busy eating all our blackberries.

A steam train on approaching Chertsey station would normally give a couple of loud blasts of the steam whistle. The sound I heard on this day was more of a loud groan and the click, click, clickety click of the wheels on the railway joints. The boys quickly scrambled up out of the stream and joined me on the gate. Slowly emerging from the trees lining the track came two carriages and then coming to a halt right in front of us. The passengers were leaning out of the windows and waving to us. I think this must have been the very first electric train to have used this track and was full of important people. Seeing two carriages almost silently moving over the bridge full of waving people with no steam engine anywhere to be seen, was a sight I will never forget. 

To find out when electric trains were first used on the Chertsey line, I looked it up on Google, it was 1937. I would have been five years old. Eighty-four years later I can still remember an amazing amount of detail of those few minutes. The shiny new paint and the gold lettering on the side, the strange smell of electricity from the sparks that came from underneath the train when it pulled away. And seeing it magically glide into Chertsey Station without a single huff and puff of the steam engine.

Now when-ever the beautiful new steam train goes huffing and puffing through Chertsey, there are crowds of people waving to the passengers. What goes around comes around. 

Author: madeinchertsey

Born in 1932, this is a collection of stories of my childhood growing up in Chertsey, and some stories of my later life.

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