The main Eastcoast railway line snakes across our view.  It is just magical.train heading across landscapeBut one funny thing I have noticed is that, although we may complain about the blight of windfarms and tower blocks and pylons etc across our views, nobody ever complains about the electrical train gantries bestriding our landscape.  Just look.  Man-made ugliness, or what?railway line in the viewSo much do we love our trains, that we forgive them almost everything.

Before I came to Seaview, I could take trains or leave them.  They weren’t that important to me – just the practical tools of transport.  But now, I have lived at intimate quarters with trains, I have become – dare I say it – train-obsessed.

The thing is, trains seem to be all around us here.  They rush past as we walk down to the sea.walking down the hill to the beachOur local walks take us right along the main East coast railway line.walking beside the trackAny moment, and a train will come rushing past.train suddenly appearsThere are several level crossings that we have to negotiate over the mainline.trains rushing past level crossingAnd there are the extra special two days of the year, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when no trains run, so the gates are pinned back, and you can stand in the middle of the line and be trains at ChristmasThe railway line as we know it was built by the Newcastle and Berwick Railway and reached the southern bank of the Tweed in March 1847.  Earlier tramways along this track had existed for the transport of stone and later coal (as shown in the map below) to the River Tweed.1844 Spittal & Tweedmouth Tramroad plan1844 plan for the Spittal & Tweedmouth Tramroad or Railway (courtesy of the Woodhorn Northumberland Archives)

It must have been an enormous engineering enterprise.  Awkward chasms had to be bridged, and at times deep gullies were excavated to level out the line along the coast.  Look at the depths this part of the track (just south of our house)  has been cut to!depths of cuttingThe culmination of this part of the line is the nearby Royal Border Bridge where the train crosses into Berwick and can then travel on to Scotland.  One of the bestest best sights in the locality: a steam train crossing Robert Stephenson’s magnificent 1850 bridge.train crossing Royal Border BridgeOnce we started to look at the trains, we began to notice the different ones that came and went … on the road (or should that be track?) to becoming happily geeky.

There are a lot of goods trains on the line …Goods trainsThere are maintenance trains (glimpsed at Berwick station) …Mobile maintenance trainSometimes there are old-fashioned trains taking a special tour …old fashioned trainOn a very special few occasions there are steam trains!oh the joy of the steam trainThe steam trains always draw an admiring crowd. (Yes, that’s a crowd for this part of the world!)watchers of steam trainThere’s something else about trains – a romance, an emotion, something beyond the fascination with the mechanical and the technical.  Our friends and our family – and we ourselves – travel on them frequently as we come and go from this place, and they are wrapt up for me with the sadness of parting, and the excitement of arrival.

Here I am at Berwick station one sunny autumn day, waiting for a train to arrive from London, bringing a dear visitor.  From the end of the station, you can see over the Royal Border Bridge …. and there’s the first glimpse of the train approaching …waiting for train at Berwick station1Clearly visible now …waiting for train at Berwick station2So exciting – nearly there!waiting for train at Berwick station3Conversely, there are departures.  We always go down the hill to wave goodbye.  On one visit to London, I managed to capture Stephen waving to me as the train gathered speed.Stephen waving (photo taken in train)My children came to visit last weekend for my birthday, and now you have to imagine me, standing in the gloaming where Stephen was in the photo above, waving goodbye to the train carrying them back to London.saying goodbyeBon voyage!


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20 thoughts on “Trains”

    1. I was so pleased with that pic too! It’s not terribly clear (taken through dirty train windows, of course), but it’s better than nothing. I, of course, always wave from the train carriage – so, if you are ever in a south-bound train with a lunatic waving woman just south of Berwick, it’s me! 🙂


    1. Thank you! so envious that you’ve had the Flying Scotsman around – did you see it? We’ve had rumours that it’s coming our way, but don’t know when that will be – maddening!


  1. We lived near a railway line and I spent many happy afternoons with the children watching the trains whizz by. One of the things I love about train travel (though not the local London commuter one) is watching the world get on with its business as the train rushes through. Somehow, it’s completely different than driving through. The Railway Children film probably has a lot to answer for!
    How clever to catch Stephen waving to you.


    1. How lovely to have had children growing up around the railway – such magical sights to share. I completely agree with you about watching the world go by from the train – conversely, I look at trains and think of all the passengers rushing past to their destinations and their continuing lives. I find it particularly poignant watching the trains on weekends, or at the end of a bank holiday – thinking of people going back to their working lives. I never think that about car drivers!


  2. Happy belated birthday!!! What a wonderful post, brought so many memories. As a child I was fascinated by trains. My Granny and I had to take train every weekend to go to our little village for the weekend. It was crowdy, hot and utterly uncomfortable, but I LOVED it. I even told my Granny that I would love to work in a train! 🙂 I am still enchanted by trains and love traveling by them.


    1. Lovely to hear your description of the crowded train that you loved travelling in as a little girl, Alina! Thank you for birthday wishes, and so glad you enjoyed the post. Judging from the comments people have left, it sounds like a lot of us have happy train memories!


  3. You always manage to bestir my memories! I was about to go for a kip but not now! My paternal Grandmother used to arrive by train and what a treat that was in northern NH.
    She always wore a red and blue large checked short coat with a wonderful silver pin of top hat, gloves and cane. I now have this. As a child we had a neighbor who was an engineer on a train and he wore the blue and white striped hat and overalls. I can ‘see’ him still. In London I always had to take a train to go into town from the Midwifery school and once missed the correct one and someone kindly walked with me from Bexleyheath to Woolwich, at 11PM, No idea the distance but can you imagine doing that now? I took the Flying Scotsman from London to Edinburgh when I went to Scotland for my Part 2 Midwifery. Had forgotten all about that……. Visiting my son in Germany I was on several trains going to different cities and boy oh boy, are they ON time or what?! Loved them. Now I mostly complain re the trains that keep me from going where I want to go, or I try to race them to the next crossing, bad susan, bad susan. They are not passenger trains, all freight and can be a mile long, NOT an exaggeration. As usual, thank you for getting the ‘little grey cells’ moving about!


    1. More gorgeous memories, Susan – you write so vividly, I’ve got pictures in my mind of all this train travel you describe. Fascinating that you have so many freight trains – and they are so long. In the UK, I think they are a rarity, but they are a much greener way of transporting goods than smelly lorries cluttering up our roads. I haven’t “raced” a train yet – but might try now! 🙂


  4. No train racing please! I agree with Susan, the trains in Germany are a wonder. Our trains are covered in grafitti but we travelled on pristine trains from the 70s as well as brand new ones. You could have eaten your dinner on the floor. Took us between cities and deep into the country cheaply and easily. A beautiful poignant post.


    1. Spoil sport, Rebecca! Interesting to hear about your Australian trains – I can imagine they’d be a great way to travel in that huge country. And I bet the graffiti is quality! So glad you enjoyed the post 🙂


      1. Alas it is mostly tagging rather than Street art. Australia is love with roads and has a hugely powerful road lobby. Despite world wide research on the importance of trains in and betweenn urban centres, rail has been underfunded for decades in Australia.


        1. Alas, that doesn’t surprise me – motor cars seem to dominate all other forms of transport. I’d got the idea that Australian graffiti might be somewhat superior because I’ve seen such fine examples on Instagram 🙂


  5. What a nice friendly post, worthy of Thomas the Tank Engine! (Did you read those?). I always love coming North on your line and seeing the sea arrive with (nearly) Scotland, though even better was when I used to travel sometimes by sleeper from London and wake up in a different country.


    1. I never really took to Thomas the Tank Engine, either in my own childhood, or my children’s, but that is still high praise! Oh, to travel by sleeper to Scotland from London – that must be so civilised! But, of course, you’d miss seeing the sea when you got to Northumberland. 😦


  6. What a lovely post! Interesting, thoughtful, and you’ve taken a lot of trouble as well: we should feel flattered that you’ve spared so much time and care on us. When I listen to East Coast Racer on English Electric by the band Big Big Train (no, please, trust me, their music is not all about railways!) I am swept along with the drama and romance of the east coast mainline, especially in Northumberland and Borders!


  7. Yet again a very fascinating and informative post kd. I love the sound of the train whistle, it stirs some inner feeling that is somewhat sad – not sure why that is. My grandfather “rode the rails” during the Depression in the 1930s, he was hoping to get to Australia but got homesick! Growing up in a small village in SW Ontario Canada, we were only a narrow road, a house and small yard away from the local CN rail line. As kids we played by a creek that ran under the rail line, and used to wave at the engineer as the train thundered past. Can’t imagine any parents allowing that now! The only time I remember the train annoying me was when I was trying to watch The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964 and couldn’t hear as the train went by! Rail travel here has become expensive, with infrequent schedules and many connections discontinued. Even local bus travel connecting towns is nonexistent….if you don’t have a car you’re out of luck! Your post brought back many happy memories though….thank you.


    1. Lovely to hear your memories of childhood play by trains, your grandfather’s travel plans that never came to fruition! All so evocative. I’m sad to read that Canada like Australia doesn’t value the potential of train travel – but not surprised. It’s the world we live in – car is king! Writing about the train whistle, you reminded me that one of the most moving funeral services I went to was for a train enthusiast, and at the end they played a long parting train whistle. It was just as you said: stirs some deep inner feelings, and far more evocative than music. thank you for writing about these memories – all so interesting.


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