Compared to today, when everyone has a camera on their phone, one of my abiding sadnesses is that so many of my childhood memories were so poorly documented on film.
Imagine my joy then when I found this little gem filmed in the early sixties . . it shows a group from the Rugeley Progressive Working Mens Club (no doubt CIU affiliated) on their annual pilgrimage to Rhyl. Not only a camera, but a cine camera no less. The stuttering graininess of the film merely adds to it’s charm.
I may have been on platform two at Rhyl Station that day with my tartan duffle bag, filled with a packet of crisps, some Tuc biscuits, some cheap orange squash and if I was particularly lucky, a Blue Riband bar.
The train would inevitably have been pulled by a Black Five loco, unkempt, wheezing and magnificent. Before I was enveloped by steam from leaking glands, I would make a note of the shed plate on the front of the engine. If it was a Birmingham shedded engine, it might be a cop – one I hadn’t seen before and I would write it in my little notebook to copy into my Ian Allan Combined Volume.
If I was feeling particularly adventurous I would approach the driver and ask if I could ‘cab’ him – climb up on the footplate for a few seconds. If the signal at the end of the platform was still down I might be lucky. If it was up, the driver and fireman would be busy for a sharp start to make up time on the route to Llandudno, which would be the destination of this excursion service. On such occasions, no amount of please and thank you would elicit an invite.
Meanwhile the train would be disgorging trippers from every carriage door, all racing for the footbridge and all the kids rattling the chain along the top of the bridge in their rush to make the most of their short time in the town. Mums and dads, like our own, would be dressed in their Sunday best for a sit on the beach – suits and floral dresses abounded. Pacamacs available for the first sight of inclement weather!
This was Rugeley’s finest on parade. What happy days!
Watch the full glorious video here… 1961 Visit to Rhyl from Rugeley