Coast rattletraps

We used to travel to school on these things. We called them the 'rattletraps'. The sliding doors were hand-operated and the trains would run with them wide open. Foolhardy types would climb between the cars on the long stretch between Backworth and Benton. There were actually internal connecting doors but I never saw anyone use them.


  1. I must beg to differ! The connecting doors were opened by a square ended 'key' by ticket inspectors. We found that a screwdriver with a wide blade worked just as well. Therefore if the La Sagesse girls getting on at West Jesmond were in another carriage, we could move, without waiting for South Gosforth.
    As far as the doors were concerned they had the legend above them 'Do not open the door until the train stops', of course a penknife removed the 'T' from train resulting in great hilarity.
    The morning trains were bad as the 'grown men'(Miserable aald Gadgies) insisted on booting us out of the 'four seaters' so they could smoke up a fug and read the 'Journal.'

  2. So they were locked! That's why I never saw anyone using them.

    I remember 'Vacancies for Drivers' notices on Tynemouth buses being adjusted to 'cans for fivers'.

    I am interested in your use of the word 'gadgie' because I was involved in some discussion about it when the Dictionary of North East Dialect was being put together. What would be your definition?

  3. The electric units you refer to had interconnecting doors throughout the entire train. Although not meant for passenger use as stated, they were also used by other railway staff besides ticker inspectors. In the Car Sheds at South Gosforth, as part of the preparation before entering service, the motorman (on an electric train, the driver is called the motorman) had to walk through the train setting switches in each driving compartment. Clearly it was a lot easier to walk through the train rather than clambering on and off it. The same procedure was followed when berthing a train after service. However, after a few years in service, the outer door in the driving compartment became rather a poor fit and as well as giving a very distracting rattle as the train was being driven, the draughts that came about when facing into a biting winter wind, made a motormans lot uncomfortable. It wasn't unusual in the drving compartment to see the front door edges jammed with old newspapers serving as a makeshift draught excluder. After the bitter winter of 1941, the compartments were modified to incorporate a large sheet of metal placed alongside the motorman's legs, giving him some protection.

    One of my childhood delights was to enter the last car of a Central-bound train at South Gosforth station, and if the car was empty, try the door of the motorman's compartment at the end of the train. Sometimes, someone had been a little lax in adhering to the rules and the door was unlocked. I'd quickly slip inside, pull down the motorman's tip-up seat and enjoy my journey watching the line receding from me. Naturally, at West Jesmond and Jesmond stations, you kept your head well down, away from the eyes of the station staff. I'd usually move back on to terra legitima before arrival at Manors.

    Happy days.