As a child of the 1950’s I grew up with steam engines. They were exciting, full of variety and it was a great thrill when one of these fiery beasts hove into view. Needless to say I have turned my attentions away from trains since the good old days of steam, although I much prefer the modern speed and comfort of today’s rail travel. But it is not the Duchess steaming along in this picture taken by Mike Mensing about 1961, delightful though it is, that I wish to bring to your attention. It is the sunny piece of raised ground to the left in the bottom of the picture in front of the tree. You can see that the wooden fence climbs over the top of it. The raised ground was the formation of the roadway leading to an old level crossing that once served the farm in the top right of the picture just behind the steam of the engine, and the fields to the right. When the railway was first opened the London & North Western Railway built the crossing so that the farmer could gain access to his land from the top of Garrett Street, in Attleborough. The railway was forced to provide and pay for a crossing keeper at this point to open and close the gates every time the farmer wanted to cross the railway. Signals were erected to stop trains when the gates were opened and had to be interlocked with Nuneaton and Attleborough signal boxes. It was one of the many expensive operations that the company had to do, which far outweighed the economic benefit to the railway. For many years this was called “Pratt’s Crossing” and must have been well known to locals who knew it as an outpost of old Attleborough village. I understand the crossing keeper was named Ike Pratt. It must have been a lonely life for Mr. Pratt only enlivened by his having to open the crossing gates every day for the farmer but most of the time content to watch the black engines and trains of the London & North Western Railway lumbering by at the stately speed of 30 miles per hour. It is recorded that on the odd occasion the farmer at Attleborough Fields Farm, when driving his cattle across the crossing, would have the un-nerving experience of one or more of his beasts making a break for it down the main line through a gap in the gates, or the hedge nearby. It is not surprising that the railway company took a dim view of this, which effectively closed the main line from London – Crewe for a considerable time, whilst the animals were rounded up. At some time in the 19th century the L.N.W.R. stopped up the level crossing, dismantled the crossing keeper’s house, and re-deployed Mr. Pratt to more active duties in the company’s interests. It is all gone now, of course, the farm, its open fields, the steam engine and its train of coaches, the junk and detritus at the top of Garrett Street, the tall telegraph poles, the rail tracks renewed many times over and the raised mound of Ike Pratt’s crossing has been built over and lost for ever.