The train leaving the station is for …

Fraser Nelson recycled his Telegraph piece on HS2 for The Spectator: no good deed should go unrewarded (and doubtless recompensed) and it don’t ‘alf save on RSI and thinkin’ time.

One difference was the accompanying graphic

For the thrusting, forward-thinking Torygraph [irony alert!], a sleek silver spermatozoon thrusts past a country golf-club, apparently not far from the hills of Yorkshire or Cumbria:

TRANSPORT Trains 100471

Nice. But where’s the power-source? No electric overhead wires — though this is an electric train with pantograph retracted.  According to Boriswatch, a similar magic carpet was seen on publicity for the East London Line.

The old-fogeys of The Spectator prefer something more traditional: 22nd October 1895, when the Granville to Paris express missed its final stop at Gare Montparnasse:


We are, there, viewing the place of death of Mme Marie-Augustine Aguilard, the only fatality, who was attending her husband’s news-stall, while he went to collect the evening editions.

Happily, that came copyright free for The Speccy— it’s credited to Wikimedia Commons. The other image from that same source is a better photograph:


For real thrills’n’spills, there’s the recreation New Deal Studios did for Scorsese in Hugo:


If it were not a lazy reaching for something of a pictorial cliché, why else might The Speccy use that image?

No! No! perish any Eurosceptic thought!

Nearer, my High School, to thee

Harcourt St line crash1

traincrashMalcolm has always felt closer to an event, similar to Montparnasse, 1895: the Valentine’s Day, 1900, eruption into Hatch Street, Dublin.

That is because Malcolm commuted in, to be educated and cultured at the old High School site, opposite Harcourt Street Station. George Wilkinson’s fine Italianate building, from 1858-9, is still there, a bit scrubbed up (Dublin doesn’t do full rehabs much), and scandalously underused.

The official explanation of that was driver error, with contributory factors in poor line lay-out and — look carefully at the above image, consider the size of that concrete block, and muse — inadequate buffer stops.

What actually happened was a train of thirty loaded cattle trucks lost it on the downgrade from Ranelagh.

Alternatively …

The driver (and only significant casualty, even among the cattle, — he lost an arm) of that train was William Hyland. He was just 22-years old, which seems quite young, especially compared to Ewan MacColl’s  version of career progression:

2660Let us now refers to Deirdre Mary Kelly’s Four roads to Dublin: a history of Rathmines, Ranelagh, and Leeson Street. She spotted that John Roque’s 1757 map of the suburbs of Dublin located a “fairy rath” at the location where, later, the Dublin & Wicklow Railway (built late 1850s) crossed the Grand Canal (this action opened 1796). We are, then, imaginatively standing at the Charlemont tram stop on the Luas.

When the Canal was excavated, the fairies were evicted from their rath, presumably with some wrath. Eventually the railway bridge provided them with a new home. So the older train-drivers were accustomed to sound an appeasing whistle, warning the fairies they were crossing the bridge. Alas, young driver Hyland neglected this tradition. And was duly punished.

Well, it’s as good a fable as any from Fraser Nelson.


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Filed under Daily Telegraph, Dublin, Fraser Nelson, High School, History, Paris, railways, reading, The Spectator

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