Every so often I put a post on here that may well be of literally no interest to anyone but me. Be warned: this is one.
Fact: after Google, the second-most used search device on the internet is YouTube. Partly, no doubt because it’s so addictive: I find it hard to go on there and look up just one video. Among its many possible functions, perhaps the greatest is to re-visit your past: for those of us who were smal children in the 1980s (or earlier) the likes of old kids TV shows often maintain a rarity value – footage from the time can be hard to find any other way, and the amount on YouTube can still be small, but is growing.
But this isn’t just about old telly. Unlike for those raised in the 1970s, we have a possible archive of camcorder footage out there. In fact – my God! – it’s just crossed my mind to go and look for old primary school plays. I’m not sure I dare… Hang on.
Right, yes, camcorder footage: specifically, from places you were taken on days out! Almost certainly there will be a few places you went to regularly, or semi-regularly, right? Well, here’s one I went to as a small child. (don’t worry – it’s not all pink)
Dinting Railway Centre – now long-since closed, which makes the nostalgia trip even more complete: I can’t have been since I was, at the absolute oldest, eight years old. The above clips must have been shot when I was three, so it’s maybe a bit unlikely to see myself among them. But the one below is from a couple of years later:
No sign of me or my brother, but there’s all sorts of things I like about that one in particular. Firstly, the miniature railway – my God, I remember that! And it did seem frighteningly fast when you were sat on one of those little trains, I can tell you.
This was shot on a completely typical day: I remember the two engines Tiny and Nunlow. I went in the cab of Tiny, which was exciting – it was small enough not to be terrifying to a tiny child. But Nunlow was my favourite because it was green.
I also like how the restoration of the locomotive Bahamas has clearly progressed very slowly since the previous clip: it mostly seems to be sitting in much the same set of bits, in much the same place as two years previously.
Plus there’s the obvious things: hairstyles, fashions… Watching this, you almost expect Anneka Rice to come into land in a helicopter. But it all seems very fresh and immediate because it was shot on videotape: both clips must have been shot on what was expensive kit at the time.
Rather sadly, Dinting Railway Centre – though my brother and I always called it simply “Dinting” without realising Dinting is an actual place in its own right – is now derelict, as you might be able to tell from Google maps:
The smudgy triangle at the bottom is where the platforms used to be, that you see the trains trundling in and out of. The white-roofed building on the right is the shed Bahamas was being restored outside, and seems to be the only building still standing. The larger shed has been completely demolished – I suspect the track-bed that can still just about be seen running past the Bahamas shed runs into where it used to stand. The miniature railway was in the area north of the Bahamas shed, which was on raised ground, now apparently completely overgrown. The railway tracks you can still see are the normal rail network, and still in use – services run along them into Manchester Piccadilly.
But what the hell, let’s finish with some old kids’ TV. Many of the old Broom Cupboard links no longer exist: they were considered to be between-programmes continuity, and so were not recorded by the BBC (the same goes for the daytime magazine slot Pebble Mill).
Here’s Debbie Flint filling in for Philip Schofield: I have no memory of Debbie Flint at all, but I do remember the time before Neighbours was on immediately after CBBC, of which this is an example.
Blimey – Jossy’s Giants, eh? Not actually filmed in Newcastle, but in Stalybridge – only about five miles away from Dinting, as it happens. Plus you can still see from this Blue Peter were doing reports on film, not videotape. Makes it seem ancient, doesn’t it? Mind you, at 23 years, I suppose it is.
I think Debbie Flint was mentioned in the Tribe of Toffs song John Kettley is a Weatherman. As was Simon Parkin – remember him?
OK. Enough now.