I’d visited this childhood home several times before. It had been hurtful to see the level of dilapidation surrounding what had been my bedroom, my front yard, the tree where I swung for what seemed like hours. We often lived at houses which accompanied railway stations when I was growing up. My dad’s work inextricably connected to our lives. The railway family. The railway children.
Sometimes the house was physically joined to the railway station so that we lived along the train platform. The platform became our play area although my mother’s vigilance always kept us safe as trains came and went throughout the day and into the night. This might sound a bit unusual I guess to people who lived in ordinary houses. It has become part of the rich tapestry that makes up my life and something I now appreciate as I look back. At the time it wasn’t that special I suppose. We were the railway children after all.
It was with great pleasure then that I recently undertook my pilgrimage and found that the building had been cleaned up. A fresh coat of paint made such a difference to the window ledges and eaves. The fresh smell of the paint still lingered in the warm air. The metal post which had held the clothes line stood at the side of the yard with renewed strength. The grass had been cut and the front yard looked really neat and tidy. Just as my parents had always kept it – well starting to resemble that anyway. They took great pride in how the house and garden looked.
I knew they would be pleased that the house and railway station was now being cared for. Although it had been many years since we’d lived there it still felt like we have some ownership of it. One of the railway families who came in and out of these towns, leaving a little bit of themselves behind each time. The restoration felt like we had been respected, part of our history restored and shone up.