FRIDAY JULY 2nd 1925
We are standing in a field looking north across the railway line towards a
grandstand accommodating Royalty and VIPs. It is a beautiful sunny day,
ideal for photography. Next to it is a marquee for the press. It is in effect a
beer tent- the LNER, unlike the LMS, never stinted on entertaining “Fleet
Street’s Finest” and over the years this policy will pay dividends in terms of
newspaper coverage. We ãre part of a huge crowd, which includes one of
the two official photographers covering the event at this location.
The other is on the Darlington side of the Beer- sorry – Press Tent…
No, I was not actually there, (I am not quite that old!) but I was present at
The Rail 150 event in 1975, held at Heighington (indeed I had some part in
organising it) so coupled with the marvelous photos taken by the LNER
photographers, and those from “Topical Press” it is not difficult to
imagine the scene.
A ”Magic Lantern” Show
It is a frosty December evening in1926, but we are quite
snug in the church hall because a pot-bellied iron coke stove
in the corner, almost glowing with heat is radiating lots of
warmth, and probably a fair amount of carbon monoxide too.
The strange smell, however is from the acetylene gas
illuminating the “magic lantern” projector, a bulky black
japanned machine, the size of a small suitcase, topped with
a funnel capped by a pastry-cutter cowl, and thrusting a two
foot long barrel from its front. The Curate (a bit of a “Railwayac”
on the quiet), is the operator, and narrator for the evening.
He begins by thanking the London & North Eastern Railway, for the
generous free loan of the slides, which he collected from the local
station that afternoon, where they had arrived, packed in a stout
brass-bound wooden box, “OCS – On Company’s Service”. He will
send them back free of charge the following morning, by simply
removing the cardboard label addressed to him, revealing the painted
address “Advertising Manager, YORK – OCS”.
The Verger turns down the gas lights, and the curate begins:-
“This programme illustrates the procession of historic and modern
locomotives and rolling stock which took place in the presence of their
Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of York, as part of the
Centenary of Railways” celebrations at Darlngton last year”
”Slide one. The Duke and Duchess of York arrive at the grandstand…”