Scene from the past on London commuter route

The old railwaymen's cottages near Rowlands Castle
The old railwaymen's cottages near Rowlands Castle
Signal box - The bleak and isolated siting of the Idsworth signal box illustrates the loneliness of the signalman's lot

THIS WEEK IN 1970: Time runs out on the lonely reign of a signal box man

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You may not know this scene, but if you commute to London then you pass it every day.
 The wooden footbridge has long since been replaced by a concrete one. You will notice the soot markings on the left side of the bridge. This was because the steam locomotives had to be thrashed up the 1 in 80 bank to Buriton tunnel.

On the way down they coasted, so little exhaust was made.

These are railwaymen’s cottages, most probably permanent waymen who worked on the tracks, clearing the lineside of weeds and lighting the lamps on semaphore signals.

In the distance under the bridge can be seen railway workers bending over. They seem to be packing in.

That does not mean ending for the day but pushing loose ballast under the sleepers (packing), giving the trains passing over them a smooth ride.

There does not seem to be a look-out man so obligatory in these days of quiet trains.

In those days a steam-hauled train could be heard coming a long way off and so was not quite so dangerous.

It is of course pre-third rail electrification days, which came in 1937.

The scene today is just as rural, although trees have grown and hidden the scene.

The cottages are still there and located about two miles north of Rowlands Castle.