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Trainspotting in the 1950s and 1960s and What We Used to Wear

This article gives an insight into how trainspotting became a national pastime for most boys in the 1950s and 1960s and enhances this with a series of photographs of trainspotters covering the period 1946-1968 which shows the changes in fashion in what 'spotters' wore in that period. In fact, this is actually an interesting insight into the change in fashions in general. Let's face it, the late 50s/early 60s was a drab time. Most of life was lived in shades of black, grey, beige & brown although things were starting to change and did so quite dramatically over the next couple of years.

Introduction - How Trainspotting Took Off


Ian Allan began his working life in the post of temporary Grade 5 clerk in the office of the General Manager of Southern Railway at Waterloo Station, which allowed him to pursue his enthusiasm for railways. Having had an all consuming interest in railway engines, locomotive classes and types of rolling stock, Ian was given the task of handling enquiries from the public. To do this he was given a notebook with the numbers of most of the Southern’s locos, their classes and their shed allocations. Realising that there was a keen interest in these names and numbers he made the suggestion that the company should publish the notebook. The suggestion was turned down and so permission was sought to publish his own booklet. This was given, subject to his doing so only at his own risk and expense. With the help of his colleagues, Ian produced a booklet containing a numerical list of loco numbers and their classes and a table at the end of the book giving all the details of each class so that it would be possible to relate the number to the name. There was at this stage no thought of collecting the numbers. That was to come later.

Having obtained a quote of £42 to produce 2,000 6” x 4” pocket books, the 'budding' publisher spent 5 shillings and sixpence (26p approximately) placing a small classified ad in the Railway World magazine offering the publication to enthusiasts in exchange for one shilling. Very soon Ian had nearly 2,000 one shilling postal orders, which after all expenses produced to his surprise an unexpected profit.

A reprint with the new title of ABC of Southern Locomotives was quickly ordered, with the authors credit changed from I. Allan to Ian Allan.

The other big four companies followed – The Great Western, LMS, and LNER. Soon the dispatch of these books became too much to handle for Ian alone, so friends, colleagues and neighbours were enrolled to help satisfy the demand. Ignoring the advice of experts Ian published a book on London Transport (the Underground, trolley buses, and buses). The 20,000 print run disappeared in days.

Ian’s books were attracting the attention of bookshops at railway stations and book chains such as W H Smiths. The success of the loco spotters books was assured. However, one reluctant buyer said “it’s only a list of bloody numbers, who do you think is going to buy this?” The answer soon became obvious, thousands of the ABC books were purchased and “train spotting” was born. In 1944 one excursion of school boy loco enthusiasts wandered on to the mainline track, an incident which made headlines in the national newspapers. (The formation of Ian Allan Locospotters Club run by Ian’s future wife Mollie and the establishment of branches the length and breadth of England quickly followed).

Later, a Combined Volume was introduced containing detail of whet appeared in the four regional ABC books. The Locoshed book then appeared, containing basic details of loco number and shed allocation code. Most spotters usually carried a shed book with them when out, while the more expensive combined volume never left the house.




Trainspotter's Fashions - what We Wore


During the 1950s, especially at Grammar schools many boys wore short trousers until they were sometimes 14 years old or even older in some cases; a number of schools in Liverpool, especially Grammar schools, had boys wearing shorts until they reached the age of 15 or 16 years of age. A school uniform consisted of blazer, usually with the school badge on the breast pocket, a peaked school cap also with the school badge on, grey V necked pullover, grey or white shirt, grey short trousers, either flannel or more comfortable, poly/cotton material, and long grey turnover top socks. In the winter on on wet days, most boys also wore a gaberdine school raincoat of woollen or cotton gaberdine, a close twill-weave fabric with a smooth finish which normally had an attached belt. Many trainspotters of this period wore some or all of the above while by the lineside or at the station. Many grammar and public schools, had a strict dress code that basically forced boys to stay in short pants until the end of the second or third year, or even longer in some cases, along with a pullover, white shirt, blazer and tie. School caps were also still common, but by the end of the decade the wearing of them had begun to decline. With regard to the shoe situation, British schoolboys were less likely to wear sneakers and instead wore closed toe sandals with a "t" strap to school and for play after school. By examining photos of the period, it seems older boys and adults seemed to wear sports jackets and macintoshes, along with slacks. Many photos of trainspotters in the 1950s, show them wearing their school uniforms while out 'spotting', with adults wearing the aforementioned clothes.

The 1960s brought vast changes in fashion for most young people, never mind trainspotters. Jeans and slacks became readily available and many boys wore them when not at school. Duffle coats also made an appearance at this time along with the infamous 'anorak'! The duffel bag, haversacks, rugsacks and other bags also took over from the school satchel. In the mid 60's with music tastes changing, the arrival of groups like the Beatles and Rolling Stones and the colourful clothes they wore, completely changed the fashion scene of most boys and teenagers. About 1967, Boy Scouts went to long trousers, further influencing the trend away from shorts. By the end of the 60s few boys over 11 still wore shorts, although many boys, even some in the first years of their secondary/grammar school were still wearing shorts and one or two boys still wore shorts in the 3rd form, though most people thought their parents odd to make them. School caps were no longer worn by the vast majority of boys, only public and grammar schools hanging on to them.

In the early 60's, hardly anyone had jeans and generally mothers still resisted in buying them as they would have to buy two sets of clothing; one for wearing at school and one set for outside school. Cost was also an important factor as most jeans were branded e.g. Levis and were quite expensive at the time. The early jeans were of the tight fitting 'drainpipes' style and usually worn with turn ups as most photos of the period show.

Eventually, this article and accompanying photographs, will be expanded to cover the period from the 1970s to the present day.

Many thanks to Richard Postill and John Ford, collection David Ford for permission to use some of their photos in this gallery.

The album is in chronological order starting in 1946 throught to 1968. You can access the album at the first entry by using the link below, then browse through the photos in date order, noting the changes in fashion as you do. Alternately, you can jump straight to a particular photo in the album by selecting one of the thumbnail images below.

If you have time, we would appreciate it if you could comment on any photo, loco, building, clothing, etc by completing the comment box below the photo.

We hope you enjoy your journey into the past...

Go to the 'Trainspotting in the 1950s and 1960s and What We Used to Wear' Album

Album Thumbnails

LMS/BR Fowler 2-6-2T No. 40061 at Oldham Glodwick Road Station 1949 - ID 2343 Trainspotters on the Castle Keep Overlooking Newcastle Station 1950 - ID 2344 BR/LNER Class B1 No. 61318 at Leicester London Road Station 1950 - ID 2345 Trainspotters in the Cab of LNER/BR Class J6 64212 Basford and Bulwell Station 1950 - ID 2346 SR/BR Class WC/BB No. 34090 at Ashford Works Open Day 1951 - ID 2347 SR/BR Merchant Navy Class  No. 35010 at Waterloo Station 1952 - ID 2348 Trainspotters Near Clapham Junction 1952 - ID 2349 LNER/BR Class B1 No. 61269 at Nottingham Victoria Station 1952 - ID 2392 LMS/BR Class Black Five 4-6-0 No. 45322 at Birmingham New Street Station 1953 - ID 2352 LNER/BR Class A4 No. Unknown at Grantham Station 1953 - ID 2375
LNER/BR Class B1 No. 61156 at Nottingham Victoria Station 1953 - ID 2391 LNER/BR Class A4 4-6-2 No. 60009 at Grantham Station 1953 - ID 2413 LMS/BR Stanier Coronation Class 4-6-2 No. 46227 at Carlisle Station c.1953 - ID 2623 StPancras Station 1954 - ID 2353 LNER/BR Class V3 No. 67685 at Middlesborough Station 1955 - ID 2354 LMS/BR Class Black Five 4-6-0 No. 44852 on the Thame Clyde at Holbeck Junction Leeds 1956 - ID 2355 Paddington Station 1957 - ID 2356 LNER/BR Class C16 No. 67492 at Macmerry 1958 - ID 2361 Trainspotters at Kings Cross Station 1958 - ID 2350 LNER/BR Class K3/2 No. 61824 at Doncaster Station C.1957 - ID 2357
LNER/BR Class A2/2 No. 60503 at Kings Cross Station 1958 - ID 2360 BR Warship Class Diesel No. D801 at Paddington Station 1959 - ID 2362 LMS/BR Class Black Five 4-6-0 No. 44751 at Manchester Victoria/Exchange 1960 - ID 2372 BR/LMS Fowler Class 4F 0-6-0 No. 43985 at Sheffield Midland Station 1961 - ID 2839 BR/GWR Collett 4-6-0 Class 6000 King 6022 Wolverhampton Low Level Station 1961 - ID 2859 BR/LMS Stanier Class Princess 4-6-2 No. 46209 at Chester General Station 1961 - ID 2860 BR/LNER Gresley Class A3 4-6-2 No. 60074 at Darlington Station C.1961 - ID 2861 LNER/BR Class A4 4-6-2 No. 60012 at Carlisle Canal Shed circa 1961 - ID 2862 BRCW Co/Sulzer/AEl Type 4 No. D0260 at Wolverhampton Low Level Station 1962 - ID 2394 BR/LMS Stanier Class Princess 4-6-2 No. 46209 at Willesden Junction Station 1962 - ID 2863
BR/SR Class D16/2 Diesel No. 10203 at Derby Works 1962 - ID 2408 LNER/BR Class A2/3 No. 60524 at York Station 1962 - ID 2364 LMS/BR Class Stanier  2-6-4T No. 42663 at Stoke Shed - ID 2365 LNER/BR Gresley Class A4 4-6-2 No. 60022 at Doncaster Works 1963 - ID 2864 LNER/BR Gresley Class J39/2 0-6-0 No. 64880 at Carlisle Kingmoor 1963 - ID 2618 BR/LNER A4 Class 60023 & BR/LMS Coronation 46255 at Carlisle Station 1963 - ID 2865 GWR/BR Class 5700 No. 4680 at Worcester Shrub Hill Station 1963 - ID 2412 LNER/BR Class A4 4-6-2 No. 60010 at Gateshead Shed 1963 - ID 2551 EE Type 3s Nos. D6866 D6865 at Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns Works 1963 - ID 2568 BR Sulzer Type 2's No. D5226 D5227 D5228 at Darlington Works 1963 - ID 2571
LNER/BR Worsdell Class J21 0-6-0 No. 65033 at Darlington Works 1963 - ID 2572 English Electric Type 3 D6781 (37081 37797) at Thornaby Shed 1963 - ID 2592 English Electric Type 3 D6769 (37069) at Thornaby Shed 1963 - ID 2594 English Electric Type 3 Class 37 No. D6760 (37060 37705) at Thornaby Shed 1963 - ID 2373 BR Standard Class Britannia 4-6-2 No. 70000 at Carlisle Kingmoor Shed 1963 - ID 2866 BR/LMS Stanier Princess Class No. 46200 at Carlisle Upperby Shed 1963 - ID 2823 BR/LMS Stanier Princess Class No. 46200 at Carlisle Upperby Shed 1963 - ID 2824 LNER/BR Class No. O4/3 63783 at Derby Works 1963 - ID 2369 LMS/BR Class Princess Royal Pacific 4-6-2 No. 46200 at Carlisle Upperby Shed in 1963 - ID 2401 Trainspotters at Bath Spa Station 1963 - ID 2366
Wellingborough Shed 1963 - ID 2368 GWR/BR Class Castle No. 7026 at Oxford Station1963 - ID 2381 BR Clayton Diesel Class 17 No. D8588 at Thornaby Shed 1964 - ID 2398 LNER/BR Cass Q6 No. 63432 at West Hartlepool Shed 1964 - ID 2400 Thornaby Shed with EE Type 3 and EE Type 4 1964 - ID 2477 BR Clayton Diesel Class 17 No. D8588 at Thornaby Shed 1964 - ID 2867 BR Clayton Diesel Class 17 No. D8588 at Thornaby Shed 1964 - ID 2868 BR/LNER Gresley Class A3 4-6-2 No. 4472 at Aberdeen Station 1964 - ID 2385 LMS/BR McIntosh Class 439 0-4-4 Tank No. 55189 at Dalry Road Shed 1964 - ID 2869 BR/LNER Gresley Class A3 4-6-2 No. 4472 at Edinburgh Waverley Station 1964 - ID 2870
LNER/BR Class A4 4-6-2 No. 60005 at Aberdeen Ferryhill Shed 1964 - ID 2871 NB/BR Class 21 Type 2 No. D6151 at Aberdeen Kittybrewster Shed 1964 - ID 2872 BR/LNER Class A3 No. 4472 at Aberdeen Station 1964 - ID 2873 LNER/BR Class A4 4-6-2 No. 60027 at Aberdeen Station 1964 - ID 2874 BR/GWR Collett 4-6-0 Class 6000 King No. 6024 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1965 - ID 2875 BR/LMS Stanier Coronation Class No. 46225 at Carlisle Kingmoor Shed 1964 - ID 2876 SR Class S15 No. 30499 at Cardiff General Station Enroute to Barry 1964 - ID 2877 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34019 at Eastleigh Works 1964 - ID 2878 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34037 at Eastleigh Works 1964 - ID 2879 GWR/BR Collett Class Castle No. 7025 at Old Oak Common Shed in 1964 - ID 2402
SR/BR Bulleid MN Class 4-6-2 No. 35027 at Southampton Central Station 1964 - ID 2880 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34107 at Exmouth Junction Shed 1964 - ID 2881 BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0 No. 92220 at Cardiff East Dock Shed 1964 - ID 2882 LMS/BR Class Coronation 4-6-2 No. 46237 at Carlisle Upperby Shed 1964 - ID 2397 Brush Type 2 No. Unknown and Trainspotters at Kings Cross Station 1964 - ID 2383 NER/BR Class A2/3 4-6-2 No. 60524 at Carlisle Upperby Shed circa 1964 - ID 2883 LNER/BR Class K4 3442 (61994) at Market Weighton Station 1965 - ID 2411 BR/LNER Class A1 No. 60130 at Ardsley Shed 1965 - ID 2387 BRC&W Co Type 2 Class 27 No. D5378 (27031) at Thornaby Shed 1965 - ID 1984 Brush Type 4 Class 47/4 No. D1577 (47457) at Darlington Shed 1965 - ID 2272
English Electric Type 3 Class 37 No. D6760 (37060 37705) at Thornaby Shed 1965 - ID 2388 BRC&W Co Type 2 Class 27 No. D5378 (27031) at Thornaby Shed 1965 - ID 2396 BRC&W Co Type 2 Class 27 No. D5377 (27030) at Thornaby Shed 1965 - ID 2399 Brush Type 4 Class 47 No. D1579 (47459) at Darlington Bank Top Station 1965 - ID 2407 LNER/BR Peppercorn A1 Class 4-6-2 No. 60124 'Kenilworth' at Darlington Shed 1965 - ID 2414 Stephenson 0-4-0 Locomotion No. 1 at Darlington Bank Top Station 1965 - ID 2472 WD/BR Class J94 0-6-0ST No. 68023 at Darlington Shed 1965 - ID 2473 WD/BR Class J94 0-6-0ST No. 68043 at Darlington Shed 1965 - ID 2474 Brush Type 4 Class 47/3 No. D1795 (47314) at Darlington Shed 1965 - ID 2475 Thornaby Shed Maintenance Area 1965 - ID 2476
Thornaby Shed with Four  English Electric Type 3s 1965 - ID 2478 BR Clayton Diesel Class 17 No. Unknown Inside Thornaby Shed Roundhouse 1965 - ID 2479 BR Clayton Diesel Class 17 No. Unknown at Thornaby Shed Roundhouse 1965 - ID 2480 BR Sulzer Type 2 Class 25 D5153 (25003) and D5159 (25009) at Thornaby Shed 1965 - ID 2481 LNER/BR Class J27 0-6-0 No. 65859 at Darlington Shed 1965 - ID 2505 LNER/BR Peppercorn A1 Class 4-6-2 No. 60124 'Kenilworth' at Darlington Shed 1965 - ID 2515 EE Type 3 Class 37 No. D6764 (37064, 37515) at Thornaby Shed 1965 - ID 2520 EE Type 4 Class 40 No. D399 (40199) at Thornaby Shed 1965 - ID 2540 LNER/BR Peppercorn A1 Class 4-6-2 No. 60124 'Kenilworth' at Darlington Shed 1965 - ID 2624 BR Clayton Diesel Class 17 No. Unknown Inside Thornaby Shed Roundhouse 1965 - ID 2884
LMS/BR Class 8F 2-8-0 No. 48121 Woodford Halse Shed 1965 - ID 2393 LMS/BR Class 4F 0-6-0 No. 44188 at Woodford Halse Station 1965 - ID 2409 LMS/BR Class 4F 0-6-0 No. 44188 at Stratford Old Town Station 1965 - ID 2410 BR Standard Class Britannia 4-6-2 No. 70033 at Carlisle Station 1965 - ID 2885 BR Standard Class Britannia 4-6-2 No. 70048 at Carlisle Upperby Shed 1964 - ID 2886 BR Sulzer Type 2 class 24 No. D5081 (24081) at Carlisle Station 1965 - ID 2386 LMS/BR Stanier Jubilee Class 4-6-0 No. 45573 at Carlisle Station 1965 - ID 2887 LMS/BR Stanier Jubilee Class 4-6-0 No. 45694 at Carlisle Station 1965 - ID 2888 LMS/BR Stanier Black Five Class 4-6-0 5MT No. 44670 at Carlisle Station 1965 - ID 2889 SR/BR Bulleid MN Class 4-6-2 No. 35009 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1965 - ID 2890
SR/BR Class Merchant Navy No. 35025 at Woodham Brothers, Barry 1965 - ID 2406 S&DJR Fowler Class 7F 2-8-0 No. 53808 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1965 - ID 2891 SR/BR Urie/Maunsell Class S15 4-6-0 No. 30841 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1965 - ID 2892 BR/GWR Hawkesworth 4-6-0 Class 6959 Modified Hall No. 7925 at Oxley Shed 1965 - ID 2893 LMS/BR Class Hughes 2-6-0 Crab No. 42737 at Ayr Shed 1965 - ID 2404 LMS/BR Class Hughes 2-6-0 Crab No. 42737 at Ayr Shed 1965 - ID 2405  BR Standard Class Britannia 4-6-2 No. 70044 at Carlisle Station 1965 - ID 2894 SR/BR Bulleid Class MN 4-6-2 No. 35005 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2897 LMS/BR Fowler 0-6-0 Class 4F No. 43924 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2898 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34039 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2899
BR/GWR Hawkesworth 4-6-0 Class Hall No. 7927 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2900 BR/GWR Hawkesworth 0-6-0 Class 9400 PT No. 9466 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2904 SR/BR Maunsell Class U 2-6-0 No. 31806 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2913 Southern Railway/BR Maunsell Class U 2-6-0 No. 31638 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2914 SR/BR Maunsell Class U 2-6-0 No. 31625 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2915 SR/BR Urie/Maunsell Class S15 4-6-0 No. 30825 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2916 BR/GWR Collett 2-8-2 Class 7200 Tank No. 7200 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2919  BR/GWR Collett 4-6-2 Class Castle No. 5080 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2923 BR/GWR Collett 2-6-2 Class 5101 Tank No. 5199 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2924 BR/GWR Churchward 2-0-0 Class 2800 No. 2861 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2925
SR/BR Bulleid MN Class 4-6-2 No. 35011 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2926 SR/BR Bulleid MN Class 4-6-2 No. 35011 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2929 BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0 No. 92207 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2931 SR/BR Bulleid Class BB 4-6-2 No. 34072 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2933 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34092 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2936 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34010 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2937 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34010 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2938 SR/BR Bulleid MN Class 4-6-2 No. 35005 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2941 BR/GWR Collett 4-6-0 Class 6000 King No. 6024 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2942 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34105 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2943
BR/GWR Churchward 2-6-0 Class 4300 No. 7325 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2944 SR/BR Maunsell Class U 2-6-0 No. 31806 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2945 SR/BR Urie/Maunsell Class S15 4-6-0 No. 30841 at Woodhams Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2946 SR/BR Bulleid MN Class 4-6-2 No. 35011 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2947 SR/BR Bulleid Class WC 4-6-2 No. 34010 at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard 1966 - ID 2949  EE Type 3 Class 37/3 37304 (37334) at an Unknown Shed Circa 1974 - ID 2948 

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