Tag Archives: holland

August 15th 1975

“Train journey damn boring. Nice girls at stations. Got to Copenhagen at about 7-30pm. Great Dinner”

So, after an overnight ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland – involving something to do with pepper pots and girls – we transfer to the train for Copenhagen.

A train journey – just to remind you – which took almost 12 hours and went through Holland, Germany and Denmark.

Two-thirds of the way into the journey, the train would split up into 4 or 5 parts and be shunted onto a ferry for the 90-minute sea crossing between Puttgarden (in Germany) and Rødby (in Denmark).

This, by far, was always the highlight of the journey for me (it was otherwise a little dull for a teenager – damn boring, in fact – although nowadays I’d love the relaxation of it). For Nig it represented ‘major excitement central’. I don’t think he really believed us when we told him that the train was going straight onto the boat. I think he rather imagined we’d all get off a train, catch a boat across the Baltic Sea and then catch another train on through Denmark.

I don’t know exactly how many photos he took that afternoon, but I’ll guess he blew a couple of rolls of film or more on the loading and unloading process of the train, running from one end of our set of carriages to the other to get the best shots. To be fair it was an amazing thing to see, the echoed noises and sounds all adding to the experience.

Some of the pics he took were really good – I remember that – but I only saw them a couple of times. It’s a shame in retrospect that I never asked him for copies of his photos because this was the last time I did this journey and it would be nice to have a keepsake of the one element that – even as a kid (remember, I took this journey almost annually from the age of 6 months!) – I always looked forward to.

Flikr user “Seadipper” hopefully won’t mind me using a photo of his from 2006 which shows the back of a modern train carriage in the hold of the ferry…

I’m sure the process is now far more automated than it was in 1975 and that trains have evolved in a big way making the loading and unloading a lot easier. Certainly this photo suggests a bright and airy train deck when the reality as I recall it was a somewhat dark and dank space that smelled of oil. Each carriage had to be chained down by a huge team of workers and as they did so we would all rock from side to side. When we were suitably secured, pairs of elaborate steps had to be placed at each carriage doorway. I was always surprised to see them because they seemed to come from nowhere, presumably wheeled into place when all the passengers attention was elsewhere

It was the noise of the train moving on and off the boat I will always remember the longest though, a collection of bumps, screeches and squeals as the train wheels did battle with variations in the rails. I found this couple of you tube videos showing the process, that noise still evident…

Somewhat sadly, this relatively unique train experience is being phased out by ‘progress’. The 19-kilometer Fehmarn Belt Bridge is being built between Puttgarden and Rodby and is due to open for car and train traffic in 2018, thus ending a decades-old tradition of kids (and teenagers) squealing with excitement.

In other news “nice girls at stations” is pure teen talk isn’t it? I can’t be certain they were all “nice” but they were evidently good to look at. (As a huge generalisation I find that most Danish girls are good to look at)


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News in 1973 (Part IV)

[… “News in 1973” continued from part III]

Radio is cleaning up the nation

It’s somewhat incredible to realise that until 1973, the only legal radio broadcasts in the UK came from the BBC.

Yes, there were the overseas broadcasts from Radio Luxembourg and the “pirates” on the sea (Radio Caroline particularly popular), but both major political parties seemed adamant that UK radio should remain entirely in the domain of the government-owned broadcaster.

So much so, that in the late 60’s the then labour-run government went to great lengths to shut down the pirate stations, extending the powers of the Telegraphy Act so that small stations who conducted their business from offshore sandbanks or unmoored ships were forced to stop broadcasting, these areas now falling into the new reference of “territorial waters”

There was then a (retrospectively) ironic turn of events for Harold Wilson‘s Labour government. On January 1st 1970, the voting age in the UK dropped from 21 to 18, six months before a general election. It is generally felt that – as a direct result of Wilson’s heavy-handed stand against radio piracy (especially given the whole boom in pop music culture in the preceeding 6 or 7 years) – the suffrage of the 18-21 year old age group actually helped in booting him – and labour principles – from power.

Ted Heath‘s Conservative government secured a surprise win and, once in control, announced a Bill for the introduction of commercial radio in the UK. In 1972 the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) came into being and began planning the new services, advertising for potential groups interested in becoming broadcasters.

The first territories offered were Glasgow and London, with two contracts offered for the latter.

The London contract for “news/information” went to LBC (London Broadcasting Company), whilst the “entertainment” contract was awarded to Capital Radio. Both stations commenced broadcasting in 1973.

I didn’t hear Capital Radio for years. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to… I actually couldn’t. In something of a major governmental cock-up the station was given a medium wave frequency exactly the same as Radio Veronica, a pirate radio station broadcasting from Holland. The interference between the two stations meant no-one in Southern England (raises hand) could hear either clearly! (The frequency was not changed until 1975)

As time went by more and more independent stations opened up across the UK. Radio Clyde – winner of the Glasgow contract – also began broadcasting in 1973 (albeit on 31st December), but the next year saw Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Liverpool all get on the (non-BBC) radio map.

Despite all this ‘new radio’, I stuck with what I knew and had grown to love. BBC’s Radio 1 was always my first choice (the Top 30 chart show and John Peel‘s night-time show particular favourites, Tony Blackburn‘s breakfast show something of a secret “guilty pleasure”) with Radio Luxembourg a distant second in my affections.

[“News in 1973” concludes in Part V]

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August 20th/21st 1973

• “Woke up, got in taxi, got on train, got off train, got in taxi, got on train, got off train, got on boat”
• “Woke up, got off boat, got on train, got off train, got on boat, got off boat, got on train, got off train, got in taxi”

Thanks to a glitch at WordPress, this is the second time I have tried to write this post. My initial post was a free-flowing stream of consciousness concentrating on how, even though this 36+ hour journey from Eastleigh to Copenhagen was somewhat arduous, it was nevertheless quite exciting in its own special way.

I prosed eloquently about the trains, about the overnight boat journey on a Scandinavian Seaways ferry and went into somewhat minute detail about how the train would drive directly onto a ferry to cross the Baltic Sea between Germany and Denmark and how that little part of the journey was always – without exception – my most favourite experience of it all. I waxed lyrically about the food, the sights, the sounds and the smells.

Then, without warning WordPress lost it all, obliterating everything for no reason. In addition, in all the time I had been typing – well over two hours – Wordpress did not do its usual incremental 5-minute back-up “save” process

Meaning I lost everything. Without trying to sound too grand, it was maybe some of the best writing I have done on this blog, matching specific memories (yes, rare) to a set of events I just knew readers would find interesting.

Sadly, I know all too well it’s a waste of time trying to recreate it. Any attempt would be tainted with anger and upset at what happened. So, instead I’ll merely expand a little on my diary’s entries about the travel itinerary necessary to leave home early one morning and arrive at my grandmother’s apartment in the early evening of the following day…

We would
• Get an early morning taxi from home to Eastleigh railway station (one of the rare times my Dad would spend £££’s on a taxi service)
• Catch a train from Eastleigh to London’s Waterloo station
• Get our second taxi of the day from Waterloo to London’s Liverpool Street station
• Catch the Boat train from Liverpool Street to Harwich
• Get on the overnight ferry – staying in a tiny 3-birth cabin – arriving at the Hook of Holland as the sun rose
• Get on the train for Copenhagen – which would travel through Holland (Rotterdam, Utrecht, Amersfoort, Deventer, Oldenzaal) and Germany (Oznabrück,  Bremen,  Hamburg,  Lübeck) reaching Puttgarden just after lunch
• The train would split into sections of 4 or 5 carriages and all the bits would be shunted onto a ferry for the (then) necessary crossing across the Baltic Sea
• The ferry would arrive in Rødby in Denmark 90 minutes later where the train would be hauled off the ferry, put back together and returned to its tracks for the rest of its journey (Naestved,  Hungsted,  Roskilde) to Copenhagen.
• The final taxi ride to take us from the (gorgeous) Copenhagen central station to my Mormor’s flat out on Amager Island.

To be honest, this post is so awfully dull in comparison to the one I intially composed I feel as if I should apologise for it. Sorry.

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