Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Historical stuff

Waiting for the train from Pontevedra to Vigo yesterday afternoon (having had absolutely NO problems buying our tickets), we spotted a plaque on inner the wall of station, on platform 3. Platforms 1 and 2 remain as elusive as ever by the way. 

It was put up in July 1999. Maybe it has always been there and we have just never noticed it before. Perhaps it used to be situated elsewhere and has been moved to the station as part of recent refurbishments. Whatever the case, it celebrates the centenary of the extension of the railway line to Pontevedra in July 1899. Interestingly, the first railway company in Galicia appears to have been British, The West Galicia Railway Company Limited. So there has been a connection between Britain and Galicia for a good while. 

Of course, we already knew about the veneration for Sir John Moore in La Coruña, where he died in 1809 helping them fight against the French. In fact, no visit to that city is complete without a look at his tomb. But we had not heard about the railway connection. And where exactly is the John Trulock railway museum? And who was John Trulock anyway? 

A little bit of Internet detective work followed. 

I found out that there is a Museo do Ferrocarril de Galicia is in Monforte de Lemos and comprises a maintenance and restoration workshop for its collection of trains, and is the home of the tourist train, the "Galaico Expreso", which is a grand and beautiful exhibition Visitors can learn about the history of the railway in Galicia via the various kinds of traction vehicles, coaches and wagons that travelled on its railway tracks. There are guided tours and it's even possible to hire the tourist train to travel through Galicia pulled by steam locomotive. Well, there you go. 

But then I also found out about the Fundación Camilo José Cela, which exhibits objects related to the life and work of that writer. This seems to be in Padrón, where the little green peppers come from, not too far from here. And, incidentally, where the writer came from. It seems that in the same venue is the Railway Museum “John Trulock”. Trulock, Cela’s grandfather, was the manager of the West Galicia enterprise that installed the first railway line between Santiago de Compostela and Carril. The museum shows uniforms, personal and railway-related objects, even the steam locomotive called “Sestao”, placed in the gardens of the Foundation. 

But apart from that I have found very little stuff directly related to the West Galicia Railway Company and so I gave up on that topic. 

However, while we are on things historical, I came across an article about the horse ridden by the Duke of Wellington in the Battles of Waterloo. The owner of a stately home in Devon was having a clear out and came across a lock of hair from the horse's mane. Said lock of hair is going for sale by auction and is expected to fetch £5000!!! The horse was called Copenhagen. The good lady who was so excited to find the lock said, "Copenhagen’s colour was liver chestnut and, apart from the odd white hair, the colour of this piece of his mane is as vibrant as it was 200 years ago.” 

 I am reminded of people purchasing holy relics, saints' bones and the like! Are we sure this is the 21st century?

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