The modern idiom for talking about the past! I was thinking recently about when “in the day” I would walk up this staircase at 8.20a.m. every morning in order to be at my desk by 8.30a.m. with the typewriter cover off and a pile of handwritten letters to be typed at the side of it.
Isn’t it beautiful? So elegant and grand! I would scurry up the four flights and scuttle round the gallery at the left hand side and through a doorway – and then –just like a swan you would see the inner works of the place. Narrow dark passageways reminiscent of Dickens. Bare floor boards and wooden staircases and a thousand [it seemed] tiny offices all with name plates with grand titles such as ‘The Estates and Ratings Manager’, who was the grand being I worked for, not that he knew of my existence. The room[s] I worked in had no name plate, just eight desks, one slightly bigger where the supervisor sat. At intervals during the day “messenger boys” in uniform of sorts would bring round the handwritten correspondence collected from the various offices. These “boys” were actually retired railway workers and seemed as old as Methuselah to me. We would each have to take a pile and beaver away on old Imperial ironsides and then take them for approval to the supervisor. The slightest mistake and the letter was rejected and had to be retyped, such joy! Where was this place? Why here of course – Euston Station.
This is where I earned my daily bread as a teenager until two days before I got married. I earned the princely sum of £4 per week and free rail and underground travel working as a copy typist for British Railways and I loved every minute of it. London was a good place to be then not too crowded and with a spirit of optimism. Rationing had finally ended a few years before and the street markets, which seemed to be in every side street around, were full of wonderful things. Not quite 9 till 5, I worked from 8.30 – 5.30p.m. five days a week and that was better than most, who started at 7.30a.m. and went on till 6p.m. London hadn’t yet begun swinging and decorum was still the rule of the day. I know that things always seem rosier in hindsight and that we only remember the good things. We have selective memories, I know, but I do remember that times were hard and we had to work hard and be responsible no matter how young we were, no leeway was given because you were still wet behind the ears, as they put it. The good old days? Depends on who and where you are right now. I can’t see many young ones swapping the life and technology for what we had then, but give me the simple life every time.
A Bit of History; Sadly none of this exists anymore. John Betjeman fought tooth and nail to save the doric arch at the front, to no avail as it was demolished in the 1960’s.This is what Wikpedia says about it. “The Euston Arch, built in 1837, was the original entrance to Euston station, facing onto Drummond Street, London. The Arch was demolished when the station was rebuilt in the 1960s, but much of the original stone was later located—principally used as fill in the Prescott Channel—and proposals have been formulated to reconstruct it as part of the planned redevelopment of the station, including the station’s use as the London terminus of the High Speed 2 line.“”
Picture below are from the Daily Mail archives.