Hello I’m Harry Riley
‘Return to Northumberland ’
On a recent October night we had the good fortune to attend an evening performance at a disused Northumberland Station, of a ghost story about a haunted railwayman who is tormented by the prospect of imminent tragedy along the line.
It was fitting that as we set off at dusk a thick autumn mist should descend, swirling over the hills and across the Scottish Borders (the direction we were travelling from) making driving more difficult as we crossed the River Tweed into England. Fortunately we arrived at our destination on time and saw the large banner proclaiming the ‘150th. Stephenson anniversary Celebrations.’
Coming towards us as the mist waxed and waned was a tall man carrying a torch and looking for the world like a Funeral Director in his long black frock coat and top hat. Tim Kirton (the Stephenson Project Officer) introduced Chris Green (the man in the Frock Coat and Top Hat) and the performance of the ghost story began. It was inspired and all credit to the Organisers. The show made for an enjoyable and unforgettable experience in a perfect railway setting, the murky darkness being broken only by the yellow light from a few Victorian station lamps. We even heard an owl hooting in the background.
Taking our leave afterwards with heads still full of ghostly images from the drama and with the car’s main lights cutting a swathe through the foggy night we drove towards the exit and just for a fleeting moment caught sight of a man standing alone on the platform. He appeared to be an old-fashioned railway employee, wearing a bowler hat, short jacket and kerchief round his neck. He was carrying a guard’s lantern and had a confused look on his countenance, as if he was waiting for his train.
We wondered as we drove home if we had imagined it…if this was part of the stage-managed production…or if it could have been just another lost soul waiting for a train that would never come.