If you asked me I could write a book

PUBLISHED: 15:35 09 November 2007 | UPDATED: 23:08 28 May 2010

A few years ago, I had to go to a conference in Birmingham. As I needed to study some papers on the way, I went by train and grabbed myself a seat at one of those tables. All went well until Leicester when a good lady plonked herself down opposite me a

A few years ago, I had to go to a conference in Birmingham.

As I needed to study some papers on the way, I went by train and grabbed myself a seat at one of those tables.

All went well until Leicester when a good lady plonked herself down opposite me and started to talk.

By the time we got to Hinckley, I knew her son-in-law had been put inside for coining £1 pieces.

Between Hinckley and Nuneaton, I had learned how her daughter was very lucky because she now had a large number of gentlemen friends who gave her presents of money every time they visited.

Then she started on her own biological story.

As we slid into Birmingham New Street, I was thinking I could go on Mastermind with the history of her womb as my specialist subject. As she got up to leave the train, she sighed: "I could write a book."

She could have done. It's amazing how many people have got a story worth telling but never put it down on paper, even if only for their own descendents.

Given the present fascination for studying family trees, I'm amazed more people aren't writing family or local histories.

After all, research is so easy with a computer.

In last month's edition of Eastrea's excellent monthly village newsletter, there was a note about Eastrea's railway station. Living only a mile away from the village and having a passing interest in railway history, I immediately said: "Nonsense."

A few minutes on the computer revealed how wrong I was. I contacted the Great Eastern Railway Society whose members study such matters. I now know that the March-Peterborough railway line opened on January 14, 1847, and Eastrea's station (at the level crossing along Wype Road) opened later that year.

It was an impressive affair, costing £2,672 to build. The station itself was built of brick - with 'campaniles' or bell towers (£20.8s.4d - or £20.42).

There was also a wooden goods shed. Sadly, the good folk of Eastrea saw no need to travel anywhere. Its goods service had ended by 1858 and the station closed completely in August 1866.

One further titbit: Brian Ford of Eastrea has just discovered its station master was called George Rayner.

If all this could be found through a few e-mails, think what you could learn about your own village, town - or family. And then write a book.

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