Train fans buy shrine to Tizer days

IT IS perhaps not the most desirable residence in Stockport. The main Manchester-London railway line runs on an embankment along one side of the garden. On the other, a heavy duty goods line passes within 60 feet of the house.

Nearly 300 trains a day thunder beside the bedroom windows of 15, Buttercup Drive, Adswood. It so close to the railway lines that the crockery rattles about once every four minutes and the windows are triple-glazed to keep out the noise.

But to a train spotter, the house is paradise and five Stockport members of the Thermos fraternity have clubbed together to buy it. Initially, it will be a place to hang up their anoraks and observe passing Class 60 locomotives. Eventually they plan to turn it into a shrine to Tizer, notebooks and Brownie cameras.

Mel Thorley, 45, a British Rail train driver, watched the house being built from the cab of passing suburban trains. This year he, his uncle Eric, 78, and three friends raised pounds 56,000 to buy it as a train-spotting base. Eric Hobson, who sold his own house, will live there. 'We want the house to be a shrine to the memory of everyone who has stood at this place in the past with their Tizer and crisps,' Mr Thorley said.

'This is one of the prime train enthusiasts' spots in the country, and the first time for 33 years we have had a chance to move in on it.'

The house, named 'Crossbridges', stands at the intersection of two major rail lines. The triangular garden is bounded on one side by the old London North Western Railway, from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly, which still carries all the main south-north passenger and freight traffic.

Along the other edge of the garden is the old Midland Railway from London St Pancras to Manchester Central. It was closed to passenger traffic in 1968 but still carries three freight trains a day. At the apex of the garden the two lines cross at a bridge.

In the 1930s the intersection was open pasture and a big draw for train spotters but in the 1940s a housing estate was built, blocking access. Last year Stockport council demolished it and sold the land to a housing developer.

After putting down a deposit, the train spotters persuaded the developer not to screen the railway lines with embankments, trees or fences. The result is an uninterrupted view of diesel electrics, track maintenance vehicles, freight trains and excursions for 22 hours a day. 'It is great. There is only one window of the house from which you can't see any trains,' Mr Thorley said.

'There is triple glazing, but we usually leave at least one window open so that we can hear the trains coming.

'This must be one of the best spotting places in the country. Nowadays we don't write the numbers down, but we always have a look to see what's passing. There is always something new. Occasionally even the Midland line can still turn up a train we've not seen before. Once we had a Scottish loco go past, and that was really exciting.'

(Photograph omitted)