Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Roof at Manchester Victoria Railway Station

I heard the other day that Manchester Victoria had been having a massive face-lift - after it had been voted Britain's worst railway station in 2009. Apparently they have taken off the old glass roof and replaced it with something more fitting for the 21st century as part of the upgrade. "Well," said the chap who told me, "it always used to leak anyway."

But I was thinking of a story my gran used to tell.

During the Second World War, my gran was travelling into Manchester Victoria from Bury (I think) with my mum, then a small baby, in a pram. Prams in those days were enormous, unwieldy beasts, and she could only travel in the guard's van. Which is why she was forgotten when the train was cleared of passengers at Victoria.
So she comes struggling off the guard's van and starts wheeling the pram down the platform - and comes face to face with a Luftwaffe officer! He was in handcuffs between two guards, presumably being taken to a prisoner of war camp. Outside the station, there was a crowd shouting at him through the locked railings - this was after Manchester had taken quite a bit of bomb damage, after all, and they wouldn't have been kindly disposed towards him if they'd got their hands on him.
Nana remembered him ignoring the crowd, and looking up at the roof of the station, with the glass shattered by bomb blasts, and she said he looked very satisfied, and pleased with what the German bombers had accomplished. Then she was hustled away and let out of a side door.
So I always used to look up at that old roof when I went through there, and think of my gran meeting the Luftwaffe officer.

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