Before the Great War the quickest and easiest way of moving a large body of men around the country was by rail. Whilst regular battalions often marched between camps (it was a good way of maintaining fitness and good practice for active service conditions), volunteers did not have the time to spare during their two weeks training camp each year to spend days marching to the training ground so specially chartered trains were used. The railway companies who ran these trains to bring volunteers from the cities top the training grounds issued special railway tickets to the men and it is one of these we are considering today:
This ticket was issued by the North British Railway in 1906 for travel from Stobs Camp Station to Bellgrove, a station in Glasgow. We can tell it was for the 5th Volunteer Battalion of a Light Infantry Regiment and the obvious candidate here is the Highland Light Infantry.
Originally there had been no station at Stobs Camp, the men alighting directly onto the tracks, however this created problems:
However, internal minutes of the NBR noted the difficulties, and indeed the dangers inherent in the temporary working arrangements of the railway at the camp. The engines of troop trains had to move round their trains on the main line and this was very unsatisfactory. Also, there were great difficulties in unloading troops’ baggage from the trains without loading banks and platforms
In 1903 a new station, signal box and sidings were built at the location specifically for the troop traffic generated by the camp and traffic could be very heavy:
The sheer number of trains to be unloaded was overwhelming the staff, and proof was provided, in the form of a timetable of ‘special’ trains arriving – on one day no fewer than 25 trains would have to be dealt with. A timetable of the time shows a large number of ‘specials’ to and from Larbert, Ayton (Berwickshire), Kelso, Gretna, Glasgow, Hamilton, Dundee, Edinburgh, Leith, East Linton, Newhailes, Aberdeen, Bo’ness and Armadale
This ticket is currently a dusky pink shade of card, however turning it over reveals the original colour of the ticket, which was a pale grey. This has faded badly over time, but originally would have been grey with a red stripe down its centre: