In our newest page Kevin Roche describes a feature of railway activity which has disappeared from our passenger stations and all but vanished from the railway itself - the routine handling of mail, parcels and newspapers.
Using the Summer 1961 Working Timetable Kevin has compiled a list of parcels trains which stopped at Grantham, or passed through, daily. Information from other sources, along with photographs taken in the 1960s, illustrate this important traffic which brought main line junction stations such as Grantham alive with activity at certain times of day as staff prepared for the arrival or departure of certain services.
Today on our stations in Britain there are no porters or post office staff to be seen heaving wooden barrows and trolleys along platforms, or up and down ramps, or into and out of goods lifts. No bulging grey bags with their necks tied and sealed. No strangely shaped packages with labels stuck or tied on. These days there are no open trolleys, chained to station columns or other fixtures for safety and available for passengers, railway staff and spotters alike to use as as convenient seats. Occupying a trolley was somehow much more satisfying than sitting on a station bench. The Swindon Works-built BRUTE (British Rail Universal Trolley Equipment) trolleys that began to replace the ancient wooden ones in the 1960s were caged and faced with cold, hard steel; a waste of space for any purpose other than their designed use.
Read all about Parcels, Mail and Newspaper Trains: Summer 1961 here.