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Monday 26 September 2011

Langwith Ticket Exchange

Our second Ticket Exchange took place between the stations of Shirebrook, Langwith Whaley-Thorns, Creswell and Whitwell in Derbyshire, with a short stop at Mansfield Woodhouse.

It was another beautiful day.  (How do we do it?) Blue skies and crisp shadows.

A study of shadows and symmetry on Mansfield Woodhouse station

This time we were travelling on a weekday and the holiday period was over, so travellers were making their journeys for very different reasons.

Another happy driver whose heart beat to the sound of Northern Soul
This section of rail does not have the tourist pull like at Cromford.  The towns have all suffered in the recession and there are many boarded up windows on the high streets.  However, the people we met were not grumpy or complaining, they were all busy getting on with it and making the most of things.

The trains were still busy in the mornings.  There were far more lone travellers than on our last trip.  A few people were on their way to get settled into starting new university courses.  Some were shopping or going to appointments.  But the most common reason for travelling seemed to be to meet somebody.  There were a number of dads taking their young children out for the day, or on their way to see their kids.

Family day out - a celebration

A couple on their travels from Canada

A woman of mystery
An artist

We came across cyclists again.  Combining cycling and train travel is still a common way of getting around.  We had quite a long conversation with this chap, sharing our experiences of cycling and the difficulties of cycle security, our mutual knowledge of Nottingham Station.  He was off to Clifton on the edge of Nottingham, which Jo knew well as she had worked at the University there.

For Jo, this stretch of railway is all about patterns

Our group of young explorers, also on the wrong station, examine their postcards
At one point we missed our stop and ended up at Mansfield Woodhouse.  Lucky, really, as we bumped into this lovely group of people who had come to meet their friends.  They were off to "Go Ape", an activity like an obstacle course but high off the ground.  They certainly had plenty of energy for it!  After chatting for a while, they suddenly realised that they, like us, were at the wrong station... and their friends were at Mansfield, not M Woodhouse!  We hope they found them.

We also loved the old building...
...and the bridge at Mansfield Woodhouse
Light and texture
Sign of the times
A rusting fragment from the bottom of a waste paper bin

As a visitor just passing through, it's very easy to skim over the impact loss of industry, jobs and purpose can have on a town, especially when the sun is out, there are chickens and geese in back gardens and brightly coloured berries weighing down the branches.

In Shirebrook, where we stopped for lunch, there is an ongoing debate about the proposed new Tesco store, many people welcome the prospect of the 180 new jobs it would bring, while others worry that it will lead to further shrinkage on the high street for local shop keepers. As in Langwith, young people are feeing alienated and bored, they often express their frustration through acts of antisocial behaviour. The Fire Service and local traders have been working with school children, encouraging them to meet shopkeepers to try and establish a better understanding between the generations.

During the day we passed many different versions of the Station Hotel, most of which were boarded up and decaying, this one was in Creswell. Whilst dashing to the other platform on Creswell Station via the main road Carole met Eileen in the photograph below.

Carole asked her if she would like to take part in the Ticket Exchange and offered Eileen a ticket and postcard.

"Oh yes duck, as you've been so lovely to me, of course I'll write back to you" she replied.

Eileen had been in the Trade Union for over 20 years and said that it broke her heart when the pits closed. This reminded Carole of Corby, where Undiscovered Networks first began, a town which had also lost its principle industry, the steelworks, and which has been undergoing significant regeneration (that led to the reopening of the rail line from Corby) but it wasn't so long ago that Corby also had boarded up buildings and abandoned spaces.

This Art Deco building, a former palace of dreams, is now a Bingo Hall
Thrones in the scrap yard

The mysterious remains of former station buildings also hidden in the scrap yard amongst old buses, ice cream vans, cars and other vehicles.
Moments of beauty in Creswell

The afternoon was very different.  People were generally tired and more reluctant to get involved.  They were on their way home and just looking forward to that cup of tea.  School children were making their way home on the train.  These were routes that they did every day.  It reminded Jo of when she used to commute to Bristol by train for college.  She would walk a mile to the station, take two trains and then a bus to college.  And the same back again.  Every day. Exhausting.

There was none of the energy of the morning encounters.  It made us aware how optimistic the morning train had been.  People were looking forward to their day, the train was just the start of a journey that they were setting out on.  They were open to ideas and opportunities, ready to see what the day offered them.

In the afternoon, we felt that everybody was suffering a dip in sugar levels.  There was a sleepy feel to the carriages.  The day was still warm, slightly woozy and sluggish.

It will be interesting to see if we get any postcards back from this day.  How different will people's outlooks be if they wrote their postcards in the morning or in the afternoon?  One of our questions was about Departure and Arrival - how different does it feel when you are on your way somewhere to being on your way back?  We had started to get a sense of this ourselves from this trip.

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