About a week ago a few of us visited friends in Canterbury, fifty or sixty miles South East of London. We went out to a village pub for lunch, driving out in two cars.
As we drove into the village, we were stopped by a closed level crossing. And as we sat and waited, Mrs Trep realised something remarkable. This level crossing was not barriered (you know, an up-and-down barrier), it was gated (a pair of real gates that swung closed like doors). Perplexed I got out to take a look - how on earth did the mechanism work to open and close the gate?
I strolled up to the lead car to chat about this oddity; and as I did, I heard a voice behind me say “I’m the mechanism” - and a woman in railway uniform emerged from a crossing keeper’s box (or whatever the correct term is) to explain that, four times an hour, every hour, she had to descend from her post and manually close the level crossing, swinging the gates shut, wait for the train to pass and then swing them open them again. And that’s exactly what she did.
Really?? I assumed these crossings all had been replaced with automated barriers in the (nineteen) sixties, but someone still has a job as a level crossing keeper (!). And this wasn’t a preserved railway – it was a main railway line.
So: your chance to report on weird anachronisms you have unexpectedly seen alive and well.