Monday 27 May 2024

A Fleeting Glimpse

This postcard view shows the two castellated tunnel portals at Red Hill, in Thrumpton, and the viaducts that lead towards them. The western tunnel and portal (on the right here) were built first, between 1838 and 1840, with their eastern counterparts following several decades later.

Somewhat counterintuitively, heading south on the train and having left Nottinghamshire behind us somewhere in the Attenborough area, we re-enter our beloved county halfway across the mighty Trent, luxuriating in its homely embrace for a precious extra few minutes before crossing the border into Leicestershire.

The two elaborate tunnel portals are listed at Grade II, as are the less impressive south portals. Several online sources state that the fancy design of the original north portal was due to the fact that the railway passed (as it presumably still does) through the Thrumpton Hall estate.

When I pass this spot on the train, while other passengers are faffing around on social media, making last-minute adjustments to spreadsheets or engaging in gormless phone conversations, I can usually be found pointing my phone camera at the window, trying to to capture a halfway decent shot of whichever portal we happen to be approaching (usually the western one).

Occasionally, I get lucky(ish).

They really are beautiful features. I intend to visit the site on foot at some point, to see if I can gain access to them, though there is no indication online that anyone has actually succeeded in doing this.

The postcard at the top of this post was sent in 1909 - a year that saw the opening of the first UK branch of Woolies (in Liverpool) and the introduction of the old age pension scheme.

It is interesting to note that the state retirement age was initially set at 70 - this at a time when the average UK life expectancy was between 50 and 55 years.

The extent to which such matters were occupying the mind of the person who sent the postcard is unrecorded, but their missive does reveal that they were at Trent station (which lay to the south of Long Eaton and closed in 1968), where they were part-way through a two-hour wait, having just missed their train by two minutes.

Ah, the slings and arrows of British rail travel.

Sadly, no postcards were available for purchase when my fellow Beeston and Nottingham-bound passengers and I were deposited at East Midlands Parkway shortly after midnight on our return journey and pointed in the direction of a rail replacement bus.

Of course, two-hour waits and delays caused by rail replacement buses are really quite minor matters when set against the infinity of nothingness that awaits us all in but a few short years.

So, virgins, philanderers and strumpets alike, gather ye rosebuds while ye may, for old time is indeed a-flying.


  1. A visit on foot, you say? I'd be up for that.

    1. I've been trying to come up with a route that encompasses the Red Hill/power station/East Midlands Parkway area, the Soar, Kegworth and an East Midlands Airport circumnavigation, but I suspect I might be over-reaching somewhat. A recent re-reading of The Fellowship of the Ring has given me delusions of wandering grandeur.