Monday, 16 February 2009
Unexpected Alphabets No 8
Stamford didn't want the railway anywhere near it at first, but when they finally succumbed in 1848 its Tudor manor architecture became an heraldic trumpet for this outstanding stone-built Lincolnshire town. It's worth a detour through the old coalyards (now crowded with new houses) to see it, and, if you like this sort of thing, to visit Robert Humm's transport bookshop housed in the old stationmaster's quarters. Over on the 'Leicester' side there is what was once an island platform, now with the far side bay overgrown. On the embankment are these white letters slowly sinking into the earth. I think they've been there since I regularly arrived here on steam trains in my school holidays. And that the makeshift sign was planted out with crocii and snowdrops in the spring, dahlias and wallflowers in the summer. Of course not much of this goes on now. The station is remarkably untouched, thanks to the stern eye of English Heritage I suspect rather than the altruism of whatever garishly-striped franchise is stopping and starting here. And trains are remarkably frequent and very well used. But Mr.Humm and his delightful assistants appear to be the only occupants. Every station door was locked on our visit, including the waiting rooms, and the only remote human contact seemed to be a timetable and a poster telling you what will happen if you don't buy a ticket.