I’ve always loved railway stations and when we had a recent trip to Hamburg we visited this one each day for breakfast. We were staying at a posh hotel nearby where breakfast was 32€ each!!
The interior is more like an airport – the concourse crowded with well know multiples and lots of eateries.
Very different from the Liverpool Street station i knew when I lived in Petticoat Lane before WW2.
From my memoir Woman in a White coat
I remember my father as a quiet kindly man, rather overwhelmed by the five women in his life – my mother, my grandmother and us three sisters. If he minded not having a son, he never said so to me. In his wedding photo he had a mass of straight black hair, but I only remember him being bald, with a fringe of greying hair around the edges.
On Saturday afternoons, when my mother had a nap, and my sisters went off with their friends, he used to take me for a walk. Sometimes we’d go to Liverpool Street main line station. We’d stand on the bridge over the railway tracks and watch the steam trains coming in and out. I’d hold my breath in case they didn’t stop in time to avoid crashing into the big round buffers at the end of the tracks. Other times we’d walk through the City, the great financial houses now quiet and shuttered. We’d sit in Finsbury Square, a piece of stale bread in our pockets for the sparrows and watch them picking at the crumbs. If there were any road works around we’d go and stand near them. The smell of tar was meant to be good for your lungs.
I’d try to tell my father how unfair I thought my mother was, and how she preferred my sisters to me. He’d pat me awkwardly on the head.
In 1939 I was evacuated to Littleport (2 billets) in Cambridgeshire and then to Ely, and in 1942 to Dawlish in South Devon.
Excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat ‘Operation Pied Piper’, the plan for the evacuation of children from areas likely to be bombed, was in place long before WW2 was declared. People in safe areas with spare bedrooms were urged to take in evacuees. They would be paid 10/6d for the first child and 8/6d for subsequent children. Nearly a million children were evacuated on Friday September 1st 1939. Trains were taken over, and London railway stations were packed with children.
Parents had been given a list of clothing to pack. Girls needed 1 spare vest, 1 pair of knickers, 1 petticoat, 1 slip, 1 blouse, 1 cardigan, a coat or Mackintosh, nightwear, a comb, towel, soap, face-cloth, boots or shoes and plimsolls. We were also to take food for the train journey: sandwiches, packets of nuts and seedless raisins, dry biscuits, barley sugar, an apple and an orange.
I was seven, nearly eight and my sister, Hannah, was thirteen. Hannah hadn’t yet started at her grammar school, so she came with me to my school. She carried the cardboard suitcase we shared. Our gas masks in their square brown boxes hung on a tape around our necks, and we had labels tied through our buttonholes with our name and evacuee number printed in large letters. Our teachers marched us to Liverpool Street station and onto the train to Littleport. Some mothers and a few fathers came to the school with their children. Hannah and I were alone.
‘I don’t need to go with you,’ my mother said. ‘You’re old enough to go on your own. I’ve put a stamped and addressed postcard in your case. Mind you send me your address as soon as you’re settled.’
No kiss goodbye. Nothing.