Notes from Letchworth schooldays the foundation for trainspotting memoir

Barrie C Woods with his book Those WERE The Days. Picture: Barrie C Woods

Barrie C Woods with his book Those WERE The Days. Picture: Barrie C Woods - Credit: Archant

A rail enthusiast who spotted more than 21,000 locomotives while travelling the length of the country in the 1950s and ’60s has published a book about it.

Barrie C Woods' book Those WERE the Days. Picture: Barrie C Woods

Barrie C Woods' book Those WERE the Days. Picture: Barrie C Woods - Credit: Archant

Barrie C Woods has penned Those WERE The Days about his travels from Exeter to Aberdeen and Great Yarmouth to Aberystwyth – which saw him and his friends travel by bicycle, motorbike, minibus, coach, rail and ferry.

Much of the book centres around the steam scene in North Herts, and it is now available from David’s Bookshop in Letchworth’s Eastcheap.

“Being a Letchworth lad, my first introduction to the hobby was with other school friends was at 12 years old, line-siding at Letchworth and Hitchin in the main, where we would congregate on our bicycles on an almost daily basis scribbling down engine numbers as the trains roared past,” said Barrie, who now lives in Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire.

“Gradually we extended our brief and took in such local haunts as Luton, Bedford, Stevenage, Cambridge and Milton Keynes. As we accumulated some cash from after-school paper rounds and the like, we managed to pay for organised trips which took us further afield as indicated above. Every engine was duly recorded in our little notebooks.

“Fortunately I appear to have been one of the few who retained those scribblings and transferred them into a more orderly format – which I still have. It is from this record I have produced my book.”

Barrie visited more than 600 locomotive sheds, railway works and scrapyards between 1959 and 1968 – the years covered in the book – and also spotted more than 21,000 engines in that time.

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All this is detailed in appendices at the back of the 185-page book, which has more than 100 pictures.

Incidents recalled by Barrie in the book include his group’s coach catching fire on the M1, a British Rail inspector pulling him up in front of his headmaster at Letchworth Grammar School, and an occasion when he hitchhiked a lift on a steam engine right into the depot he was trying to visit.

Other adventures featured in his personal trip down memory lane a contretemps with a herd of bullocks, run-ins with shed foremen, and something Barrie ominously described as ‘the Castleford snow incident’.

Barrie’s previous books include a guide to traction engines and a history of municipal refuse collection vehicles.

Those WERE The Days is available at David’s for £19.50.

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