November Meeting Talk

The Effect of Railways on Art and Culture

by John Ellwood

 They say you should never judge a book by its cover. Never was this more true than with John Ellwood’s excellent and absorbing presentation “The Effect of Railways on Art and Culture.” John introduced himself as a native of Fleetwood and a keen train spotter in the age of steam, (as an erstwhile train spotter myself, he was on a winner for me!).

However, I was intrigued as to which areas of art and culture he would cover and how he would go about it. The answer was a multi-faceted journey through many aspects of culture which, on my part, brought back happy memories of trips and holidays.

A reading/film of Edward Thomas’s poem Adlestrop rekindled memories of our old branch lines and country stations, and a short clip of “Brief Encounter” again provided a touch of nostalgia.

We were also treated to slides of a selection of paintings from a variety of artists. As John remarked, the advent of railways provided the opportunity for artists to travel to view different landscapes although, with a touch of humour, he commented that one of Van Gogh’s masterpieces would have been much improved if the train in the background had been moved to the foreground!

Just when we thought that John had covered every facet of the subject, we were invited to take part in a quiz based around the holiday posters we can all remember from our youth. Each team’s discussion around its possible answers brought back memories of a variety of resorts in the North West.

John had obviously put a lot of work into his presentation and from the reaction of those I spoke to this was much appreciated. I thought it was as good as many of today’s TV documentaries.

Next time, I’m looking forward to learning all about Mary, Queen of Scots. I wonder what secrets George Ecclestone will reveal?

Alan Fairey


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