I was researching some model ships today when I came across two pieces of communication which I thought were true indicators of their time. They were written in 1933 and were between a model maker and the head curator of the museum, concerning a model that had to be returned to the maker for amendment. The model maker lived in Devon.
The model maker wrote
You very kindly agreed to send my model of a Deal Lugger to Paddington on receiving word from me.
Would you please send it to the platform for the incoming train from Exeter that arrives at Paddington Station at 1:15pm on Friday July 1st.
The response, sent the same day as receipt reads
…arrangements will be made for a member of the museum staff to meet the train from Exeter, due at Paddington Station at 1:15pm tomorrow, July 1st, with your model of the Deal Lugger. It is assumed that you or your representative will be travelling by that train and will takeover the model at Paddington.
I love these letters for a number of reasons. Firstly because the idea of someone meeting a train at Paddington Station at lunchtime, bearing a model ship, hoping to meet someone they’ve never met or even know the name of, is completely alien to London in 2012. These days the model would have to be carefully packed by specialist packers then sent by specialist couriers, all of which would cost a fortune and take about a fortnight to organise.
Secondly, I love the fact that the museum could confidently send a letter, knowing it would reach the recipient the following morning, in time for the model maker to know there’d be a model to meet at Paddington. It’s almost as quick as email!
Sadly there’s nothing on file to indicate who met the model at Paddington but there is a short note from the model maker indicating that it had arrived safely. I quite like to think of the Lugger, safely placed on a first class seat in London and being taken off safely in Exeter.