There were kippers then…

There were kippers then…

HITACHI ARE BUSY in Japan making the component parts of 29 new trains to serve the West Country. Comes 2018 the first of this new generation of high speed trains will shuttle twixt Paddington and Penzance, leaving the old 125s to history.

The new trains will have up to 24% more seats compared to the majority of the trains serving the route today, creating more than 1,000 additional seats at peak times across the route every day.

So farewell then to the old 125s which, in addition to being the fastest thing on steel wheels in their heyday often served up a breakfast en route (on the up-line at least) which very often included kippers – a favourite then as now with West Country folk.

The Pullman dining car with its ‘first class eating experience’ will still be a part of the catering on board the new trains First Great Western told us but as for the reintroduction of kippers there is no word.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s letters reveal his fondness for kippers for breakfast but whether he had them on the journey when he came down to Devon by train in August 1885 is not known. (He stayed at the New London Hotel, Exeter). But he did, in that same year, write this about that journey. Remember?

From a Railway Carriage

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
and charging along like troops in a battle,
all through the meadows the horses and cattle:
all of the sights of the hill and the plain
fly as thick as driving rain;
and ever again, in the wink of an eye,
painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
all by himself and gathering brambles;
here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
and there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road,
lumping along with man and load;
and here is a mill and there is a river:
each a glimpse and gone for ever!

Robert Louis Stevenson
A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885)

John Fisher

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