Above: Two wooden destination boards can be seen in this image – one board for each of the two entrance ‘gates’. The boards are long and narrow, painted green with white lettering on them.
Do you remember travelling by train in the 1950s and 1960s? You do – well don’t admit it out loud otherwise you will give away how old you really are! London Bridge Station has partially opened its new station concourse. Walking around it the other day, I was looking at the many digital screens showing lists of train departures on ‘master departure boards’ and individual platform information in other locations.
In the days when I used to travel to my secondary school by train, I passed through the old London Bridge Station twice each day. Looked around at all the electronic technology displaying all the train information in these times, a scene from my childhood suddenly flashed through my mind as I remembered how it all used to be. At the entry barrier to each platform was a station porter whose job it was to check the tickets of each passenger walking through. So that the passengers knew the destination of each train standing beside each platform, the ‘ticket man’ was also responsible for putting up a narrow board on which was displayed the station names at which a particular train would stop.
The ‘ticket man’ had a large wooden box containing all the destination boards. He had to make sure that he picked up the correct board and then placed it in a holder above the ‘gate’ where the passengers entered the platform. Sometimes, when a train had departed, he would forget to change the board and so, when the next train arrived, passengers were in danger of assuming that the board was correct with the result that would board the wrong train. Errors were few but I can remember getting on the wrong train one day due to the wrong destination board being displayed. Happy days!
All that has changed. There is no ‘man to check your tickets’ because there are automated ticket readers beside automatic gates. Every platform has an electronic display as you enter a platform and further displays to confirm the information as you walk along the platform. Watching an old British Railways documentary film – now digitised on my computer – I saw an old wooden destination board on the film. A ‘still’ appears at the top of this article. Having been thinking about such an object only a few days earlier, it was great to see a picture of the old destination boards. It all seems like a million years ago!