Watercress Line

Memories of Steam

Credit: Nigel Kendall

As part of the Canadian Pacific Project, a small team at the Watercress Line are embarking on a journey of discovery to collect people’s memories of travel by steam locomotive in or through Hampshire.  The aim is to collect a variety of memories from a wide range of people relating to the railways in Hampshire and areas of London between 1940 and the late 1960's.

Memories can come from anyone, as we are looking for a broad range of stories to paint a picture of what life was like during the last years of steam travel.  Examples could include memories of railways during the Second World War, such as being evacuated or seeing troop movements, or collecting goods from stations, or going on holiday to the south coast or from those who emigrated through Southampton docks.  Other stories to be told are those from enthusiasts and of course those who worked on the railways.

The collection of oral histories is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Canadian Pacific project.  This project will see the return to steam of the Watercress Line’s flagship steam locomotive, no. 35005 Canadian Pacific and two rare wooden bodied carriages.  Alongside this work comes a wide range of outreach and educational activities that acknowledges that the heritage of railways lies not only with preserving the locomotives, carriages and infrastructure, but also with the stories of the impact that they had on the everyday lives of so many people.  Railways were used for all manner of things, from moving home to delivering newspapers and were much more of an integral part of people’s lives since road and air travel have taken hold.  The Canadian Pacific project aims to capture this.

If anyone reading this has memories of rail travel in the south of England from1940 through to the late 1960’s, please contact the Canadian Pacific team at canpac@watercressline.co.uk, as they would love to record and share these stories for future generations.  And please don’t worry if you have no recollection of the steam engine that hauled you!