The main Eastcoast railway line snakes across our view. It is just magical.But 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?So 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.Our local walks take us right along the main East coast railway line.Any moment, and a train will come rushing past.There are several level crossings that we have to negotiate over the mainline.And 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 silly.The 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 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!The 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.Once 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 …There are maintenance trains (glimpsed at Berwick station) …Sometimes there are old-fashioned trains taking a special tour …On a very special few occasions there are steam trains!The steam trains always draw an admiring crowd. (Yes, that’s a crowd for this part of the world!)There’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 …Clearly visible now …So exciting – nearly there!Conversely, 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.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.Bon voyage!