Thursday, April 01, 2021



Brigg trainspotters - and there were many of them in the 1960s - travelled far and wide in their quest to watch and jot down the numbers of steam locomotives before British Rail sent these often rusting engines on sad final journeys to the scrapyards.
Number-takers used to take refuge in covered shelters at stations, set aside for paying passengers, while the youngsters with notebooks and pencils to hand awaited the arrival of the next engine of interest.
We were reminded of this during the latest meeting of our Town Council - held online using the Zoom 'platform' - when Brigg Blog was 'placed in the waiting room' - 54 years after this had last happened to us as a trainspotter.
The modern 'waiting room' procedure allows people to stay connected to the meeting but means they cannot hear or see the speakers and discussions for a period until they are re-admitted by the 'host' - in this case the Town Clerk.
Councillors neared the end of a lengthy agenda when they arrived at matters relating to tenders (another word reminding us of the steam age).
A resolution was then passed under the Public Bodies Admission to Meetings Act 1960 to exclude the press and public, as confidential matters were to be discussed.
Brigg Blog wanted to observe and report on a meeting of the Planning & Environment Committee which was earmarked to follow the Town Council meeting, and therefore lodged a request to be emailed once the planning meeting was about to start so we could log in again.
It was then that the Town Clerk helpfully suggested placing us in the virtual waiting room.
Sure enough, in due course, we were re-admitted, with no need to log back in, and were able to report the planning session.
Elaborate waiting rooms were provided on railway stations by the Victorians, often with coal fires. However, the late 1960s and early 1970s saw many of them being removed, along with booking offices, as paying fares to guard/conductors travelling on passenger trains was introduced (codenamed Pay Trains).
Brigg's disappeared at that time, with two 'bus shelters' being erected instead on both platforms.
Barnetby station retained its waiting rooms and other station buildings much longer than the others.
Eventually, however, they too were removed in favour of metal shelters with glass windows (but open to the elements on one side).

PICTURED: Young Brigg trainspotters in summer 1967 on a platform at Manchester Exchange station, having travelled to the city by train in midweek from Brigg via Sheffield.  By then, steam locos could only be found in the north-west in any great number, with Manchester a particular stronghold. British Rail withdrew its last coal-powered engines in August 1968. The locos seen here were members of the successful BR Standard 5MT 4-6-0 class built in the early 1950s using taxpayers' money with a projected lifespan of 20-30 years. However, in the mid-1950s, BR decided to follow the diesel and electric traction route with its Modernisation Plan and the steam era ended a lot sooner than originally planned. Picture credit: The Ken Fisher Collection.