Bookstall Incident at South Town Station

Recollections of Sydney Rackham

Transcribed from a recorded interview (March 2001)

Well, Mr. Squirrel was a very neat smart man of medium stature and very pleasant to everybody. Well, the W.H.Smith bookstall at South Town station was immediately behind the main buffer stops and these, as you obviously know, are of very solid concrete construction. Well from time-to-time when the holiday traffic was at its peak they often used to press into service at Liverpool Street the services of sometimes fairly junior train drivers who were all supposed to have been conversant with knowing the road, as it was termed, to Yarmouth. However on this occasion this chap who was driving, he completely misjudged his speed as he approached South Town station and he applied the brakes too late but very hard, but this didn't stop him from actually crashing into the buffer stops and moving them. This in turn brought down the very sturdy wooden bookstall and the aforementioned Mr. Squirrel disappeared under an avalanche of books and magazines as all the shelves collapsed but fortunately he wasn't hurt, he was shook up but he wasn't hurt so that was another little South Town station incident.

This did happen sometimes on other occasions, not with such dramatic results but I know there was a small storage shed for... really for some of the goods traffic and that was on No.4 platform. Anyway, another one came in, another train came in and they succeeded in bringing the roof down on this goods shed. That particular siding there, it had a pretty good unloading ramp and all the animals for the Hippodrome circus, they were all unloaded there and there was also quite a lot of horse traffic, race horses that is, and I know the first time I ever looked in one of those specially constructed carriages that had accommodation for two horses and also a separate compartment for the groom and whatnot. They were quite well fitted out really and of course they were unloaded there, at that particular location. There was quite a varied goods traffic there and another funny thing about that particular siding was, it fronted the side of South Town station where all the horse cabs were drawn up there waiting to take people into Yarmouth or on the seafront. There were taxis of course but there was not a great number of taxis and of course also some of the people liked the novelty of, on a nice sunny day, of riding into Yarmouth in these landaus. And the fact that they were sometimes sitting there with their nosebags on for some considerable period resulted in quite a lot of horse manure being there and the proximity of the railway allotments resulted in, very often, any of the porters who had an allotment or anything, they used to have a bucket ready and they used to run out and fill their buckets up with this horse manure to put on their allotments.