Ghost story from the railways

In the years before World War II, signalboxes were manned and lived in. One such stood near a railway junction in the west of England; there were also a number of sidings. In the 1920s, a family lived in the box who had a beautiful young daughter. She had caught the eye of a young man, living in the stationmaster's house, on the other side of the tracks. Although her father forebade the love, well, nothing stands in the way of love, will it now? So, the young woman sneaked out every evening to be with her young man. Her father found out one evening, and there was an unholy row in the signalbox. As the row went on over the signals, the father had to change them for the approaching express from London. His daughter took the chance, dashed down the steps and started to cross the lines. The express was early, and before she knew what has happening it was upon her. The driver was too late in seeing her, her white face and billowing hair in the headlights. He braked hard, but could not avoid a collision. The young woman was dead.

Twenty years passed. It was now in the years after World War II, and to alleviate the shortage of rolling stock, an old engine stood sighing in the sidings at the station. An express train came roaring up from London through the dark evening and passed the green signal ahead of the station. As the locomotive drew level with the signal box, the driver caught sight of a ghostly white face dashing up across the lines, jumping in front of his train, trying to cross ahead of the engine. He harshly applied the brakes, and the express juddered to a stop at the top end of the sidings. The driver jumped out of his cab and ran towards the rear carriages, which were level with the signalbox. Nothing to be seen. There was no body. What was standing in the siding next to the mainline was the old engine. The signalman, who was still there after twenty years, leaned outside to see what the commotion was about. He climbed down to the tracks and glanced past the back of the carriages - and recognised the engine. It was the very locomotive that had mowed down his own daughter, all those years ago.

Reposted from my former blog Northern Trip, September 2006

No comments:

Post a Comment