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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Railway station platforms in
1940s and 1950s Britain

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There was always a lot to see on the platforms of the large stations.

Porters

Porters' luggage trolleys in the 1940s

Porters' trolleys. Photo taken in the Steam Museum at Swindon. The suit-cases were made of a fibre material that might once have looked like leather. Many cases, though, just looked as if they were made of thick cardboard fraying at the edges.

Railway porter 1940s and 1950s

Truck used by railway porters for passengers' luggage as well as for loading and unloading sacks of goods.

1940s vending machine, common on station platforms

1940s vending machine, common on station platforms, but always empty in the 1940s and early 1950s. Photographed in Milton Keynes Museum

There were always porters on the platforms of the large stations, ready and waiting to earn a tip by carrying passengers luggage for them.

Porters had special trucks and trolleys as shown in the photographs.

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Bench seats

1940s or 1950s British railway station bench seat with a back, wooden

A railway station seat.

1940s or 1950s British railway station bench seat with a back, wooden and marked with its home station

A railway station bench seat with a back, labelled with its home station.

1940s or 1950s British railway station bench seat with no back, wooden

A basic railway station bench seat with no back.

Benches were provided for passengers who preferred not to stand while waiting for a train. Like so many other things at that time, these were made of wood, but not to a standard style. Being wood, they had the advantage of not feel cold to sit on, but they did of course need regular maintenance in the form of coats of varnish. The photos show some examples.

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Station names

One the pictures of station benches shows the station name. This means that it was either before or after the Second World War, as during the war all outside place names were removed so as to be of no help to an invading army.

There was a television program I watched a few years back in which someone who travelled on a train during the war commented "I was really surprised at how every time we came to a station the place seemed to be called 'gentlemen'". He didn't realise that these notices indicated the toilets and that the station names had been taken down.

Patrick Wood

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Enamelled advertisements

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Pat Cryer, webmaster

On the walls or fences of platforms were advertisements. These were typical of the time, in that they were enamel on metal. The enamel gave an attractive glossy finish and was relatively weatherproof. However, by the time that I remember them during the Second World War, they had invariably been chipped, letting the damp in and causing rust - see the photos below. I never noticed any new ones after the war, probably because plastics were coming in.

Station platform on the Watercress (Heritage) Line showing old enamelised adverts on the fence

Station platform on the Watercress (Heritage) Line showing enamelled adverts.

Old enamel on metal advert, showing the rust eating into the chipped parts

Close-up of an enamelled advert in the Milton Keynes Museum, showing the rust eating into the chipped parts of the enamel.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.