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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 44 - Spring / Summer 1981

Schools Steaming - Wandering Willie

It was a typical English June morning, cold and overcast, but at least it was not raining. A rabbit hopped into the undergrowth, but otherwise all was still. With a muffled toot on a whistle and a gentle puffing sound, Coventry came into view from behind the Book Stall. A few figures appeared heading for the Refreshment Coach and there was time for a chat before a cloud of dust heralded the arrival of the first coach. After a brief interval for the usual introduction from Roddy (I must find out what he tells them), there they were, hoards of children with a few teachers and mums to keep them under control, we hope!

I was allocated my group and off we went over the footbridge. First stop - alongside Beattie. Must try and get the children involved, I think, so - "Does anyone know how a steam engine works?" I ask, and a small boy proceeds to tell me! I'll have to watch him. On to the Restoration Building for explanations of such diverse topics as why engines don't fall off the rails and how carriages are joined together. The platform alongside the LNWR coach is useful and the interior draws some appreciative comments. "What is the hat for?" is one question. Hat! What hat? He must mean those purple lamp-shades, so a few words about the luxury of individual lights at each table are called for. He seems satisfied ... but then I see it! A beautiful black bowler hat hanging on a hook. "Well this is a first-class coach and when it was built first-class people wore hats like that" I say, trying to retrieve the situation, but look - another group coming out of the Museum, so hurry my lot along before anyone else gets there. A short respite for me while Alan deals with them - and then back to the Station.

What next? Roddy suggests the Book Stall, but the children have left their money in their coach, so that is out. I give the teacher the option of a train ride now or later, but their is no doubt in her mind as to what is required - so over the footbridge to the toilets!

"Is everyone here?" Yes- then on into the yard to see King Edward. That is one part of him, there is another ... and another .. . and another .. . and the rest is down there (or is that Wightwick Hall?). "One day all these pieces will be put together again" I say, hoping no one will ask when. "Look at these driving wheels, they are six ... " . Oh dear, what is that in metres? Schools have gone metric now! " ... about twice as tall as you are" I finish lamely. Now a gentle walk back to the Station, stopping to look at the water crane ("Have you seen another one like that, the right way up"). the turntable ("We will have to dig a big hole to put that in") and other interesting things. Then just time for a train ride and "You can come back to the Book Stall after lunch. Don't forget your money!"

So ended a very pleasant morning. They seemed interested and they were certainly well behaved. I wonder if they will bring their parents to an Open Day or even become members in a few years time!

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1981 and so does not reflect events in the 33+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Schools Steaming - Wandering Willie - Quainton News No. 44 - Spring / Summer 1981

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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