(james benedict brown) on the road

A single to Gilberdyke, please

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 23 November, 2006


This January I hope to have the pleasure once more of changing trains in Schenectady, New York. If ever there was a town was named perfectly for changing trains in, then Schenectady is it. Forget its erstwhile history as the home of Thomas Edison or General Electric – every since I read its name on an Amtrak timetable, I knew that this was a town that could surely only exist for the train station. It’s the place where you make schenections.

Meanwhile, while researching travel options from Sheffield to Selby, the town where our studio will be basing its studies, I found that most train journeys took about seventy to eighty minutes, and needed a change in either Doncaster or Leeds. One journey that was offered by National Rail, however, offered a completely different routing, through another place that surely was meant for changing trains in: Gilberdyke.

Gilderdyke, I could understand… but Gilberdyke?

I’ve never been to Gilberdyke, I don’t know anyone who lives there and I have no idea what it’s like as a place. But the name makes me think of a single track railway line with an open, unmanned, windswept platform. Since the weather on our first visit to Selby was simultaneously grey, cold and wet, I can’t help feeling I should turn down the kind offers of lifts in nice warm cars directly to our site in favour of a long and expensive train ride that includes a special stop at this small village with a glutenously poetic name. The landscape of this corner of the East Riding of Yorkshire is flat. In fact it’s the first time that I’ve been north of Sheffield and found a landscape as flat and featureless as the enthralling fens that I am so familiar with from train and car journeys home (south-eastwards) to Norfolk.

So as we spend more and more time in Selby, I look forward to making a diversion one day just to find out what it’s like in Gilberdyke. The opportunities to discover a whole new genre of tourism are opening up before my eyes. Even as a child, I always enjoyed pouring over big, hard cover atlases looking for bizarre or unusual place names. Perhaps I should follow my nose and explore these places more.

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