Saturday, April 3, 2021

The passing of the fish train

I well remember standing with a group of my train-spotting friends down at Loughborough Midland Station, around 1955.

In those days, a much larger variety of freight trains passed by.  Unlike today’s totally enclosed 40 ft containers, vans were mostly of wooden construction.  A few fast ‘fitted freights’ would come hurtling through on the main line, augmented by the normal passenger trains. 

The most notable of these ‘fast freights' was the weekly Grimsby/York fish train, bound for London at 65 mph or more.  This train frequently picked up water - while travelling at speed - from the water trough between the tracks near Meadow Lane Bridge.

Passing through the station only a few seconds later, there was a huge cloud of black smoke, a fine mist of spilling water, the rattling of some thirty fish vans and - oh yes, the smell!

I can never forget the smell of the fish train: iced (melting) fish, locomotive smoke and oil combined with steam. On a still day this smell would linger for at least five minutes.  As for the locomotive, a filthy Black 5 as usual. 

If I knew that this train was to pass by today, would I go to see it?  Yes, I would, and take my grandchildren!


David Taylor

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