AFTER reading the article in the Gazette about Devizes railway, Tony Painter got in touch to share his memories of trainspotting at the station when he was growing up.

Mr Painter who now lives in Camberley, Surrey, spent many hours at the station in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the start of a passion for trainspotting that lasted until the demise of steam engines in the late 1960s.

He said: “When I discovered the station and the steaming, occasionally gleaming, but usually smelly and grimy monsters that passed through it I was captured.

“Most of all it was the variety of engines and their numbers and names, the Western Region or old GWR, created a romance by its generous naming of engines – the proud express classes, the Castles and Kings, and the more numerous workaday Halls, Counties and Granges.

“All the locomotives in each region were listed in a series of two and sixpenny pocket books so that you could underline the ones you had seen.”

According to Mr Painter Devizes it had one major disadvantage for trainspotting: very few trains.

He said: “The few that did pass through were of a regularity that we knew by heart; the thrills of watching the twenty-to-five burst through the castle tunnel in a cloud of smoke or the drawn-out suspense of the struggle up the 1 in 60 of Caen Hill were unsurpassed.”

Along with watching trains in Devizes Mr Painter also watched mainline expresses pass through at Lydeway Bridge, Patney and Chirton.

He also went to Salisbury where the trains run by Southern had completely different names and numbers.

He said: “Swindon was the most exciting as every Wednesday afternoon in summer the railway works were opened to the public attracting hundreds of spotters. Amazingly, in those less safety-conscious days, boys would wander at will around the works, irrespective of the dangerous engineering work going on, recording numbers of locomotives under repair or construction.”

The most memorable event for Mr Painter was in August 1961 when subsidence at Lavington forced all the mainline trains through Devizes for several weeks.

He said: “No doubt this was a tedious diversion for the passengers but a bonanza time for the youth of the town and the chance to see famous expresses such as the Mayflower, Royal Duchy and Cornish Riviera. It raised the profile of the line to the extent that the station master was quoted as saying that it would ensure that the line would always remain open.”

Of course this was not to be the case. Steam engines were already being replaced by diesels and within five years had disappeared from the west altogether.

In 1966 the station, along with Chirton and Patney, also disappeared and became a car park, with only a name to remind people of its history.