An inveterate railway traveller

Frederick Charles Le Manquais stepped onto the platform at Strathpeffer station on Friday 12th June 1936. He had purchased an LMS holiday contract ticket that day in Inverness. It gave him the freedom to travel as he pleased on the Nairn, Forres, Grantown, Aviemore loop and the Beauly, Dingwall, Invergordon, Tain route as far as Invershin.

There is no clear record of his movements for the rest of the week but on the 16th he made for Keith before returning to London via Pitlochry on the 18th.

Frederick was born in Merton Park, near Wimbledon, on 17th March 1910. Young Freddie grew up fascinated by railways. He lived not far from Clapham Junction and combined his growing hobby of photography with railway watching.  Freddie graduated with a BSc in physics and maths and later qualified as an electrical engineer. His first job was with Murphy Radio and he stayed with the same firm all his working life; in his spare time he spent as much time as possible travelling by train and taking photographs. His journeys took him all over Great Britain as well as the continent and he travelled right up to the outbreak of war in 1939. After the war he resumed his travelling this time at a more leisurely pace and often in the company of his family.

His book ‘Railway Reflections’ details his travels during the golden age of steam in the 1930’s and is lavishly illustrated with photographs. Freddie’s entry for Strathpeffer does not record his impressions of the place nor where or for how long he stayed but he recorded his visit in the following way in his diary.

12th of June 1936. Long famous as a spa, the small town of Strathpeffer lay at the end of a four-mile branch from Dingwall, and here ex-CR 0-4-4T number 15199, St Rollox-built in 1909, is following time-honoured tradition as it leads in its ex-HR coach and miscellany of goods vehicles. Rather incongruously, a goods van brings up the rear. The ornate platform canopy, meanwhile, reflects the importance of Strathpeffer’s passenger traffic. The station itself opened on 3 June 1885, and once the HR invested in a hotel there in July 1911 a ‘Strathpeffer Express’ ran additionally on Tuesdays only, from Aviemore. Curiously, there was no return train! This odd service, however, was withdrawn during World War I, and was never restored. Ultimately, all passenger service was withdrawn by the LMSR on 23 February 1946. Later, under BR auspices, freight traffic, too, ceased from 26 March 1951, and the branch line was dismantled. The Caley tank was found other employment, and lasted until July 1961.

Frederick Charles le Manquais
From his book ‘Railway Reflections’

Frederick Charles le Manquais died on 13th December 1968.

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