A guest blogger describes a bit of his misspent youth …

Imagine you’re sixteen and hitch-hiking. No one will pull up and it’s cold and getting dark. You’ve got no money. You’re stuck in a one-horse town miles from home.

What would you do?

Well, these days you’d get out your mobile and start bleating for help.

Half a century ago, I walked across the paddocks to the Uranquinty railway station and asked the stationmaster if there was any chance of a ticket home to Albury. No there wasn’t, but I suppose I looked small and miserable. He said he’d pull up the next goods train coming through.

Thanks to the kind SM, I went from cold and stranded on the side of the road to toasty in front of a pot-belly stove in the guard’s van, with a guaranteed ride home.

There was only one small catch. The guard said I could earn my keep by looking out ahead for the signal lights. I’m colour-blind, but I didn’t let on. Blue wasn’t a problem, and I guessed right about the reds and greens, or we were lucky.

Anyway, we made it to Albury.

Uranquinty platform
Uranquinty railway platform about 2009 from Wikimedia Commons

Welwyn Garden City 1 geograph-2272229-by-Ben-Brooksbank
A railway accident where the signals were ignored.
View southward, towards Hatfield and London; ex-Great Northern East Coast Main Line. on 7 January 1957 the 19.10 express from Aberdeen to King’s Cross, hauled by A2/3 Pacific No. 60520 ‘Owen Tudor’, had passed several signals at Danger – in fog and in spite of exploding detonators – and ran into the rear of the 06.10 Baldock – King’s Cross local train, which was already on its way, at a closing speed of about 25 mph. Rear coaches of the Local were wrecked, killing one passenger and severely injuring 25 others. The Pacific overturned as seen, the driver being badly injured but the fireman was almost unharmed. The coaches of the express and their passengers were also relatively unharmed.