Just the ticket: days when brain did not have to take the strain

There has been much in The News and national press recently about the price of a railway ticket and the huge differences in price passengers have to pay.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 4th March 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:01 am
Oh for the days when buying a train ticket was straightforward
Oh for the days when buying a train ticket was straightforward

Travellers on the same train going to the same destination are often paying greatly differing prices for their tickets.

It was not always like this, however.

Ralph Cousins recently loaned me a ticket manual he has from, we believe, the mid-1950s.

On each page is the destination, the mileage and the single price, first or second class.

A return was simply double the single fare.

To travel to Inverness, Scotland, leaving Havant and travelling via one of three London termini it was (in old shillings) 136s 9d first class or 91s 2d second class for nearly 625 miles.

This equates to £6.84 or £4.55 for the single fares. Today it would cost several hundreds of pounds, although I was given an air fare of £70 return recently...

There were no senior railcards, special offers, student railcards etc, just the basic fare and everyone paid the same and knew where they were.

Mind you, there were instances where travelling to the same destination did cost different amounts.

For instance, take a first class single to Newbury, Berkshire. Travelling via Eastleigh, Basingstoke and Reading (89 miles) was 95p. Via Guildford and Reading (79 miles) it was 88p. Via Waterloo and Paddington (119 miles) a ‘massive’ £1.33, but it was the same for everyone and no mucking about ‘online’ like today, purchasing a ticket three months or so in advance.

n I see that so-called ‘terror chief’ Max Hill is trying to frighten everyone about possible terrorist attacks not unlike those of the 1970s by the IRA.

Does he not know that we are British and most reading his comments would say: ‘Oh right. Anyone coming to the pub?’

The terror attacks in the 1970s were, of course, frightening.

I had left the Guildford pub, the Horse and Groom, an hour before a bomb blew it to smithereens on the evening of August 5, 1974.

I was also in the Seven Stars, also hit, before that.

It did not stop my pals and me going to any other pub in the following days though.

We British have a decided way about us and no matter who tries to scare us we just get on with life no matter how frightening the scaremongering might be coming from the likes of Mr Hill.

By all means take care, but put life on hold? I don’t think so.

n My item last week on North Street, Havant, was seen by Stuart Hales who mentioned Harry Vine, the Portsmouth boxer who had a butcher’s opposite Fogden’s.

Stuart also mentioned a pal of Harry’s, a Mr Wilkins who had his own aeroplane which he flew from Portsmouth Airport.

Mr Wilkins later became a school bursar and as a cadet he gave Stuart his first flight. It was in an Auster, a high-winged, three-seater aircraft.

It had been snowing on the day and in trying to take off, the plane got stuck in the snow.

Stuart had to get out and push the plane like a car to get it going and then jump in as it made its way along the grass runway! Exciting stuff.

Stuart finished by saying it was a lovely clear day and he had a superb first flight to Southampton and back.

n I do enjoy buying second-hand books and they always help me compile this page.

In Chichester I recently purchased a 1957 copy of Ashley Courtenay’s Let’s Halt Awhile. It is a guide to 700 hotels and inns across the UK. It mentions the Keppel’s Head on The Hard, Portsea.

At that time you could stay for a week for eight guineas (£8.40) or B&B for £1.10p.

The difference between then and today was that in 1957 they charged 2s 6d (23p) to park your car whereas today parking is free. Nice to see that some things do change.

n There have been many reports recently about declining sales of the UK’s newspapers.

Some blame price increases, others the internet.

When I delivered papers, I remember when people used to have two or three Sunday papers. Those that did usually had the News of the World, Pictorial and People or as I used to say from memory: ‘Ah, number 48: News, Pic and Peep.’

Also, the majority of us now travel to work by car. In days past most used public transport and would pop into a newsagents on the way to the bus stop for a paper or buy one at the railway station to read on the train.

Nowadays, most people never go near a newsagents

I still love the feel of a newspaper, so let’s us hope we can read The News and newspapers in general for a long time to come.