Bristol Temple Meads

As I headed back into Exeter this morning, on a damp and slightly-overcrowded train, I started looking through my pictures from yesterday. I noticed that I hadn’t said anything about Bristol Temple Meads, despite being there for over an hour to change trains. If you’ve never been to Bristol, the older part of Temple Meads station is an impressive and imposing structure. Originally designed by Brunel, it reminds me of the industrial look that many of the London termini used to have.

I visited Bristol many years ago, I believe the first time I ever went on a ‘high speed’ train, and had memories of this looming structure filled with angry, growling locomotives. I remembered there being an atmosphere of blue diesel smoke and lots of people walking around with bags piled high on luggage trolleys (which seem to have gone out of fashion on the rail network now).
When I arrived at Bristol yesterday afternoon I was surprised to disembark the train onto a platform that looked nothing at all like my memories. I only had hazy images in my mind but they bore no relation to the station I’d just arrived at. Unfazed, I headed down into the subway to walk under the lines and up to the main entrance to the station and platform 4, where my next train was going from. Climbing up the stairs I was suddenly transported over twenty years into the past – it was all there! The daunting, high-arched roof, the industrial feel and the (slightly less angry) growling diesels.
The last time I’d been here, aged something-in-the-single-figures, I had snapped a quick picture at the end of the day, prior to getting on the train back to London. This was in the days of ‘proper’ cameras that had this crazy thing called ‘film’ in and, as this was the end of the day, the photo I took of Temple Meads station was the last one on the film. In fact it was that extra ‘free’ photo you sometimes got on the end of the film roll, after you’d passed the 24 or 36 mark. Consequently, when the film was developed, the picture of Temple Meads was only half there, the right-hand side of the photo having run off of the end of the film roll.
(As an aside, I remember when we once got a film for the camera with 36, rather than 24, photos on. We’d opted for this extravagance as we were going on a two-week (rather than one-week) holiday to Wales and thought we’d be able to use the additional twelve photos. It was a special event. They had to get the ’36’ film out of a locked cabinet in Boots and, this may be a figment of my imagination, but I’m sure it was ‘bigger’ that the ’24’ film. When we got the film home we had a little ceremony to install it in the camera. We considered inviting the neighbours round. Despite all this, I distinctly remember that we were utterly incapable of using the massive number of photos we had available on the film, and the final three pictures were, in fact, of the inside of the car on the way home from the holiday).

Yesterday I took about forty photos through the window of the train in a twenty second period just to try and get a good one of some sheep.

Back at Bristol I decided to try and replicate the photo I’d taken all those years ago. Here it is:


I couldn’t get in the exact location because of the large expanse of bike racks. It’s near enough though, and this time doesn’t have the right side of the picture cut off.
Who knows, maybe I’ll be back in twenty years to take another…



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