Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Natural History of Railway Station Seating


This post is dedicated to anyone who has arrived at King's Cross station in London on a cold winter's night at 5pm. on a Friday, having parted with an obscene amount of money for a ticket back to Newcastle, only to find that there has been a freight train derailment at Peterborough and your train will be delayed by two hours - and then realised, after looking around the station, that there are no seats - anywhere - to sit out your weary wait with 2000 other disgruntled passengers who are desperate to get home.

It wasn't always like that. There was a time when railway stations did have seating, and while it could never have been described as comfortable, it was sometimes rather distinctive.













This beautiful example, now in the National Railway Museum at York, once graced the platform at Yarmouth South Town (served by the Great Eastern Railway, I think). With a fitting sense of plaice, bearing in mind that Yarmouth has a fine trawling tradition, the cast iron bench ends are decorated with a trio of flatfish and a couple of scallops. Lovely.













Had you found yourself waiting on a platform 'Up North' during the heyday of the North Eastern Railway, then you would have been sharing your seat with a couple of sinuous serpents.













If your train was late in the Lake District, then the Furness Railway supplied you with these fine benches decorated with red squirrels nibbling bunches of grapes.


There are still red squirrels in the Lake District (though precious few grapes to sustain them), but the Furness Railway has long gone ..... but these benches still adorn the promenade near Grange-over-Sands railway station.

11 comments:

  1. I hadn't realised that stations no longer had seats - how ridiculous. And what a lost opportunity for some great designs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. King's Cross doesn't but most other stations do ..... not sure about the other London termini ... at KX you just have to stand...

      Delete
  2. Each one lovingly made too, no doubt. Little works of art in their own right.

    I never knew there isn't any seating at King's Cross; that is outrageous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful examples of Victorian and Edwardian cast ironwork .... the NER snake seats often end up as garden seats up here in the North East ...

      Delete
  3. Phil, Interesting experience with the trains. I will say I like the last posting with the ice. NIce. Jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jack - winter has relaxed its icy grip here at the moment.

      Delete
  4. While I'm sure they had a lot of things going on that were less than savory, there's a lot from the Victorian and Edwardian eras that really appeals to me. Namely, their love of nature and its inclusion in so much of the art (and practical items) of the time. Thanks for sharing these! Maybe someone will be inspired and bring back the trend. One can but hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ellen, I wouldn't want to depend on the medicine of the time but keeping some of the Victorian and Edwardian arts and crafts alive would certainly enrich modern like.

      Delete
  5. Furness railway's squirrels reminds me of my childhood, waiting on the platform of Ulverston station to catch a train to Grange-Over Sands togo swimming in the open air poool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely aren't they Pauline. Someone should really be turning out replicas as garden seats - we'd buy one! Last time we were in GoS the outdoor swimming pool was still there but very dilapidated... that must have been over 5 years ago though. There was also a secondhand bookshop on the station...

      Delete
  6. I think that the bookstore is still there. The saga of the lido and it's dilapidated state is long and sad. I'm pleased that you mentioned that these seats can still be found at Grange or I would have spent a great deal of time racking my brain trying to remember why they look so familiar!

    ReplyDelete