Leaving the train at York is always a feast for the eyes.I usually cross the station using the footbridge, so I can admire one of the great “cathedrals of the Railway Age” [to borrow a phrase a website called “Railway Architecture of North East England“] and take everything in. Then I usually turn left when I leave the station, onto Station Road, passed the waiting taxi cabs and face my first York landmark, The Royal York Hotel, a Grade II listed building designed by William Peachey of the North Eastern Railway. The hotel opened in 1878, a year after the present railway station, and was the flagship hotel for the North Eastern Railway Company’s flagship hotel, according to a certain on-line encyclopaedia.
I can’t say I have notice The Royal York Hotel’s window boxes in the past, but they must have looked particularly charming on this particular occasion [either that or I wasn’t rushing passed then in a hurry to get somewhere for once]!
This flower arrangement was probably worth a blog post all of its own, but it is obscuring something I found even more interesting…
It seems that Miss Emma Saunders, known as The Railway Men’s Friend or “The lady with the basket” was a Victorian woman with a mission. In brief Miss Saunders sort to stop the ever increasing numbers of Bristol railway employees from turning to alcoholism by handing out Christian literature and posies from her basket of flowers. She also set up Bristol & West of England Railwaymen’s Institute, the forerunner of the British Rail Staff Association, which offered railway workers with access to a canteen and a skittle alley. You can read more about Miss Saunders here: http://www.redland.org.uk/cgi-bin/page.cgi?20:20:32
To quote Clifton Online’s “famous and infamous” section:
“Her funeral service at Christchurch on her 86th birthday was conducted by three vicars and Clifton society rubbed shoulders with over a thousand of “her” railwaymen, all of whom wore a daffodil in her memory of their friend”.