The other day my exercise on the bike was interrupted by Marian.
Marian lives in the old signalman's cottage at the Altrincham end of the disused railway that now forms part of the Trans-Pennine Trail for cyclists. The section by her cottage is currently closed for resurfacing. Marian joined me as I pondered the 'Path Closed' sign, and she volunteered an impromptu life story. It's nice to have time for things like this. She has lived in the 1-up, 1-down cottage (now extended a bit) for 54 years, during most of which time the railway operated. The line closed in 1985, some 4 years after the death of her husband, who I assume was the signalman. I suspect it was used for goods traffic only in its latter years - I don't recall using it to go from Manchester to Warrington in my early days of work before I had a car.
We bemoaned the fact that following closure the ballast had been removed; it's now needed for the cycle track.
Things have changed a bit during Marian's tenure at this place, but the same issues recur - hedge cutting, warnings of the dangerous bend in the road, potholes, the positioning of her driveway, her children (adults now with their own families, but still 'children' to Marian), worries about folk using the closed path, etc, etc.
A pleasant few minutes with a nice old lady - I tried hard to put a positive skew onto some of her worries.
The photo was taken with a box camera in 1960 at Stafford station. My old photo album has it captioned as 'Lord Kitchener' but this is actually 'Anzac', a Britannia Pacific class 4-6-2 engine built in the 1950's - one of the last steam engines to be built in Britain - at Crewe, I think.
There are some more fascinating facts here.
I remember taking the photo, but not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would be able to show it to the world at the click of a button!