This year the theme for the David Winter
Collectors Guild is "The Railways".
Everyone loves a country railway with its neat stations
and colourful well kept gardens and buildings. The shining brass work
of the small
tank engines and the older but more homely carriages.
The cuttings and embankments carpeted with wild flowers, viaducts darlingly
built over deep
gorges with gushing rivers. The much more gentle
and calmer way of travelling whether it be for business, on the way to
school or on holiday. The
stationmaster, porters signalmen, engine drivers
and of course the guard all working as a team with pride and satisfaction
for the service they were there
to provide not just for the traveller but for the
The country railway was an essential extension to the
mainline. During the early 1900's small branch lines were being created all
over the country linking small villages and towns to the big cities and
industrial areas of Britain. Everything from farm produce to the tourist were
catered for and even wayside cottages and farms took advantage the railway
brought as whole communities were brought closer together.
So far David Winter has concentrated on village life of an
age long gone. The railway became a major part of village life as everyone
wanted their own station. But the railway not only became an essential part of
village life the railway itself had its own way of life and community spirit.
On the branch lines the arrival and departure of trains were not just recorded
as just another event but it was also known exactly who the driver, fireman and
guard were. The temperament of the individual engine and rolling stock would be
known and catered for in an attempt to keep everything running smoothly. If a
train was late there would be more concern for the people on it or a mild
curiosity if it was for a sheep on the line than worrying about sticking to the
timetable much to the annoyance of the officials from the big company who were
more concerned with the needs and demands of mainline traffic.
In making the theme for this year's guild David has
captured the very character of our railway heritage. From the architects who
designed the stations, signal boxes and bridges, the navvies who built them and
all the railway employees who kept everything moving.
Guild Membership Free
The signal box serves as the control room at a
junction just outside the station, but it is also a fully functional home,
which is unusual indeed. Nowhere else in the entire railway network will you
find a signal box that is also a domicile. It's a bit of an enigma really. How
this came about is not very clear and various contradictory stories abound, so
we won't debate that here.
Suffice to say, though,
that the living accommodation within this building is "compact," which is
actually a bit of an understatement.
The signalman's job carries a great deal of responsibility
with it, for just one mistake on his part could have catastrophic results. Of
course he is fully aware of this. Every time he pulls the heavy levers that
control the railway lines and, ultimately, the movement of rolling stock, he
does so with great caution. Does he enjoy his job? Of course he does. Like many
of his colleagues, he has spent his entire working life on the railways, and he
would swap the environment for anything else.
Guild Redemption Piece
If you ask the porter about his job on the
railway, he is quite likely to reply with the following: "Lift it. Load it,
unload it!" This is an apt description because the porter is very busy indeed.
Always dressed in black trousers, black waistcoat, and neat pillbox hat, the
porter is responsible for lost luggage. What a collection of unclaimed booty he
has amassed. His collection of umbrellas is well into the hundreds. There are,
though, some rather unusual articles in the lost luggage store like, for
example, the wooden leg that has never been claimed!! And what about the
various stuffed animals too!
He is not alone in his duties, for he has two assistant
porters who very much follow his example of diligence. Mind you, being of a
younger generation they do sometimes tend to take extended tea breaks, but one
glimpse of him approaching gets them quickly back to work. As the head porter
always says though: "they're not a bad couple of lads. In fact, they're both
worth their weight in gold."
|THE STATION MASTER'S HOUSE
Guild Redemption Piece
The station master is definitely king of all he surveys,
and can be frequently seen on the platform, gold pocket watch in hand, checking
the punctuality of arriving and departing trains. The son of a train driver,
his career began as an assistant porter. From his lowly rank, he slowly worked
his way through a variety of positions with the railway company until finally
being promoted to the "plum" job a few years back. It goes without saying he is
immensely honoured to be given so much responsibility.
He takes great pride in his station, which is kept
spotlessly clean despite the soot that is being deposited by the steam engines
that constantly pass through. In fact he has the best kept station on the
entire network. The station master is a contented man for he is doing what he
was born to do. In a nutshell, the railway is his entire life.
|Other railway related cottages.....
This is a Limited Time
Piece and is only available until the end of 2000
This is the house of a retired
engine driver. His whole life has been spent working on the railways and now,
with plenty of time on his hands, he indulges in his favourite pastime, train
spotting! This building is most certainly not everyones idea of the
perfect place to live. With trains frequently thundering through the tunnel,
and clouds of choking smoke surrounding the cottage, it is hardly a peaceful
For our retired driver, though, it is paradise. He spends
most of his day watching all of the action. On this particular line, night-time
activity is nowhere near as intense as it is during the day, so he is able to
sleep pretty well between midnight and 6 oclock in the morning. At
weekends, you might often find the trackside cottage deserted. Well, one has to
get away from it all from time to time, doesnt one? Where does our man
spend his weekends? Up and down the country visiting railway stations of
Year 2000 David Winter
The Guard's Van is no longer used as rolling stock.
Instead it has been cleverly incorporated in the home of the retired guard.
During his long career on the railway, the old guard actually worked in this
very van, when it was in service. A very strange quirk of fate happened during
the week when he received his gold watch and headed home to a life of
retirement. His faithful old van was also sent into retirement, having been
replaced by newer, more modern rolling stock! Can you believe his delight when
he was offered this piece of railway history as an additional retirement gift?
Well, he was certainly
going to be kept grand enough to rival an Orient Express Pullman car. The
retired guard spends many hours sitting outside his familiar, but now
stationary, old friend.
The Guard's Van is only available during 2000 at special
events where David is present. Like last year there are two versions the UK
Version has pink & yellow flowers while the US/Canda version has blue
|CASTERTON RAILWAY STATION
Limited Time Piece
released in 1999.
Casterton Railway Station from
David's collection of haunted houses, was inspired by Robert Aickman's spine
chilling short story, 'The Waiting Room'. There have been many stories of
haunted railway stations and phantom trains, but this particular tale has a
Our hapless traveller, having
missed his connection, is cast adrift for the night in the gloomy, deserted
waiting room at Casterton Station. His solitude is eventually relieved by a
considerable company of people, one of whom is a woman with a beautiful singing
voice. Naturally we begin to suspect that they are ghosts.
It won't be until the next morning when our traveller
discovers that the station waiting room is built on the site of the old gaol
burial ground. He will also discover that one of those buried there is Lily
Torelli, known as 'the beautiful nightingale'.
In the meantime, take a grip of your nerves, stop
shivering and light the oil lamp so considerately left by a porter. You will
find it behind the station's rear door. Goodnight and sweet dreams!
Click here to read more about the
of Britain's Railways.