Sea Spray on the Footplate

Recollections of Sydney Rackham

Transcribed from a recorded interview (March 2001)

When M&GN closed, the bus company had for years taken on extra people during the summer as conductors and when I went to work one day, the inspector said to me 'You've got an ex railway man as your conductor for the summer'. Anyway, he turned out to be a fireman. Well he was a man of very few words, I'll be polite and say this is probably because being on the footplate with all the noise that went on he was not given to talking much at work. He did say to me on one occasion that after you leave Caister-on-Sea, the line went virtually almost on to the beach at the end of Bradock Road in Caister. It couldn't have got any nearer to the beach, and then it begun to, after leaving Caister Camp, it begun to go slightly further inland to come round in a wide sweeping curve to Scratby Halt. Now this chap, he said that when an east wind was blowing a gale, and they came along that stretch at the aforementioned Bradock Road, that the salt spray from the sea could be felt on the footplate. Well that's what he maintained anyway.

One other little point before we leave Scratby Halt, the rail came in a wide sweeping curve and then there was quite a straight run, straight down the road, parallel to the line 'til it got to its junction with the Hemsby Road. Now they had a chap always on duty in the gatehouse there and he spun the great wheel that closed and shut the level crossing gates. Well the bus drivers used to swear about this man in the wheelhouse because they used to lose so much time at these crossing gates and they used to say that he closed the gates when the train left beach station. I don't know whether that was right or wrong but it did at the time seem an incredible long while waiting to get through the gates.