Pedantry

Last year I was wandering around Hanborough (for Blenheim) admiring the grave of Sir Winston Churchill and puzzling at the lack of senior politicians also braving the chill to appear on television for the 50th anniversary of his death.

Anyway, some of these politicians eventually appeared and on Hanborough station this very discrete little plaque also duly appeared:

Hanborough 2 JPGA pleasing gesture, and it took me a couple of readings to start wondering where they got the number 613443 from – locomotives do not usually have six digit numbers. It probably belongs to a wagon of some description.

The question intrigued me slightly, since bungling the number of a large Bulleid “Light Pacific” involves as much effort as bothering to type “winston churchill loco” into a search engine. Researchers may be forgiven for then managing to get it into their heads that the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway used to run to Hanborough and bunging the number “9” onto their plaque. Other researchers who try really hard might stretch to “number 87019” (which wasn’t built for another nine years). However, along with a few pictures of an American-looking red engine and a big steel box with a slightly bemused expression, the typing course of action will produce several hundred pictures of a large, fat and not particularly light-looking creature like this:

Wadebridge at Bodmin 1 JPG(This Light Pacific prefers to go by the name of Wadebridge and is a “West Country” Light Pacific rather than a “Battle of Britain” Light Pacific. However, Wadebridge can also be found enjoying herself going chuff and blowing copious amounts of steam around in the open air, whereas Winston Churchill was robbed of some miscellaneous parts many years ago and hasn’t steamed since.)

Anyway, this post has been precipitated by the fact that someone who has not given up on railway pedantry yet (beyond periodic mutterings of “railway station”) appears to have pointed out the glitch to the “people of West Oxfordshire” and these people have in turn precipitated a fun game of “Spot the Difference” by replacing the plaque:

Hanborough 3 JPG.jpg

Yes – there is a second difference, but not alas involving correcting the comma usage…

(No doubt better-qualified pedants could point out that that last sentence, or indeed this sentence, shouldn’t have had a comma before the “but”, but I think we can all agree that “having departed from London Waterloo station” is what we might call a “bracketed phrase” rather than part of a list and should therefore feature a second comma between the “station” and the “and” in order to flow properly.)

This post is not in any way intended to cast any aspersions on the memory of Winston Churchill – merely upon those who put loco numbers on plaques without bothering to look them up first. If too unimportant to check, omit…

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