WORKING ON THE RAILWAY AT GUILDFORD in the 1960's
A whole book could be written about my days on the railway, and there is not enough room here, so I shall mention just some of the memories that I have.
GUILDFORD STATION MASTER'S OFFICE
The office was situated on Platform's One and Two and was a temporary wooden building which replaced the original one which was demolished when a terminating train from Waterloo to Guildford ran through the buffers.
Office work in 1966 was very different from today, there was a large wooden table which the clerks sat around, and the staff timesheets and wages were worked out manually. There was a typewriter but no electronic calculators in those days. Ball point pens were issued but on no account was green ink to be used, this was only for use by the auditors.
The office was right on the station platform and on hot days you had to be careful when opening a frosted glass window as you could easily clout a passenger who may be standing outside waiting for a train.
The Station Master in 1966 was Mr Matt Lamport, he lived in the Station House at Worplesdon.
A railway enthusiasts special train at Platform 3, the leading locomotive is SR U Class No. 31639. The wooden building on the left of the picture is The Station Masters Office where in 1966 I first started work on the railway.
GUILDFORD PARCELS OFFICE
The Parcels Office was a busy place. There was an inside office where the books were kept, there was also a counter where the public would bring in parcels for despatch and pick up parcels that had arrived by train. Lots of P.L.A. (which stood for Passengers Luggage in Advance) would be dealt with, people used to send their holiday cases in advance for collection both when going away and when coming back from holidays. School children had their cases sent to and from schools in the same way. Livestock would also be seen regularly, I can remember one occasion when a dog had arrived overnight and had been tied up in the inside office and on my arrival at work, he did not seem too pleased when I attempted to open the office door. He did not calm down until the owner came to collect him.
There was another animal story, this time a goat. After several successful attempts in eating his own address labels, he was finally ready to be taken across to Platform 8 to be put onto a Reading train, and yes...I had the luck of the draw, I had take him down the subway and when we both were half way under, he decided to stay put, I could not budge him. The strange thing is that there is also a footbridge connecting the platforms so no one else came under the subway for some time. Up above I could hear the train arrive, the Guard's whistle blow and the train depart. A search party was sent out from the parcels office to find out where I had got to and eventually with a bit of assistance the goat caught the next train to Reading.
GUILDFORD ENQUIRY OFFICE
Working in the Enquiry Office (the old name for Information Office) helping passengers to plan their railway journeys was very interesting, each of the six British Railways regions had their own timetable, the Southern Region copy was the thickest. It was a challenge to work out the various connections and being a railway enthusiast did make the task a lot easier.
Here is one example of how a problem arose with the introduction of the 24 hour clock. A passenger had enquired the time a late night train departure and was advised the last train leaves at 22.11, the person had misunderstood this to be 20 to 11 (22.40) and had arrived at the station just after 22.30. Of course the last train had already gone 20 minutes previously.
OVERTIME AT THE OUT STATIONS
Many evenings and Sundays were spent covering overtime at the Booking Offices at Ash, London Road, Guildford and Worplesdon which were under the control of the Station Master at Guildford, this was in the days of the old thick Edmondson Card tickets which were dated on the back by flipping the ticket into the date press, it was quite an art, especially when dating a return ticket which had both ends of the ticket stamped. I can still hear the clunk-clunk of the date press now, in fact many of the preserved railways still date the tickets in this way.
Another experience I recall is accepting the boxes of fresh flowers from a local nursery at Worplesdon Station, then stacking the boxes onto a two wheel barrow ready for loading on the train. If there were a lot of boxes, you had to ring Guildford Station and ask for the Parcels train to call specially, if there were only a few boxes, the flowers had to be put into the front Guard's van on the next train to Waterloo. On many occasions the driver would see you waiting on the platform with the barrow and he would stop with the front of the train just beyond the platform, this would make it difficult loading the flowers, much to his enjoyment.