It’s a chilly late October afternoon, the temperature has struggled up to 9° Celsius and the sun refuses to burn through the grey covering cloud. Black feathered Rooks are calling from the high trees around the old railway station. The air is still.
This is Autumn in Brittany.
Jean-Claude and his mates are playing Breton Bowls on the ground where the old railway lines once lay. They gather here most Fridays to play their game share a meal in a local café and generally enjoy each other’s company. The cackle of their laughter competes with the cries of the black birds above them, whilst the clunk of metal bowling balls punctuates their conversation.
“Hey, Gallois come and have a go!” Jean-Caude implores. “Leave the ghosts of the old railway alone.”
The old station fascinates me.
Mur de Bretagne saw its last train steam out towards Carhaix nearly fifty years ago when the metre gauge Réseau Breton railway system closed down. I only wish I could have enjoyed it before it vanished forever. The network linked many rural communities and it’s closure pushed many small towns into a kind of time warp that they only really came out of after the turn of the 2000’s. Today around Brittany most of the old station buildings remain, the French can’t see the point of demolishing perfectly good structures when alternative uses can be found.
At Mur the station now serves a local cycling club, the fire brigade and of course the Breton Bowling club, talk about diversification!
“Un petit moment, Jean-Claude, je besoin explorer le vielle station.” – “In a minute Jean-Claude, I must explore the old station.”
My friend shrugs his shoulders, he understands my interest in the history of the old railway, but to him it’s just that, history.
He can remember the station when it was open and he stood here the day that the last train departed. To him it’s gone and no end of interest from me will ever bring it back… The bowling is what matters now.
I get it, but my curiosity and passion for old railways wins out.
The station is a wonderful mix of good repair and partial decrepitude. On the side where trains once ran the building is in good repair and well-tended, whilst at the rear there is evidence of slightly less love being endowed on it and that makes it more interesting. It’s just crying out for some monochrome photography.
J-C looks at me and winks, he’s winning at the moment!
There’s a strong coffee with a splash of Lambig, the local calvados type firewater, waiting at the end of this game. Then there will be Poitrine Fumé, Haricot Blanc avec ail and tarte-tatin to follow, all washed down with a local rough wine, my kind of heaven!
There’s a hint of wood smoke in the cool air, the clear clean air of Brittany and just at the moment there is nowhere else in the world that I’d rather be.
Catch you later – À bientôt!