The special train to the Queen’s funeral which left with no-one on board

The day of the Queen’s Funeral was marked by photographs which will stand the test of time, documenting an historic moment in the UK. But away from Westminster and Windsor, how did local news photographers set about recording the day? Greg Martin, a photojournalist at CornwallLive, looks back on how he came to capture a striking image — at 3am:

Knowing that almost everyone would be watching a screen, I knew from the start that documenting how the Queen’s funeral was marked in Cornwall was always going to be tricky.

So, as I made a short list of photo opportunities in the days leading up to it, I was pleased to hear that a special additional train service from Penzance to London was being put on by GWR, to give people the chance to travel up to the capital on the day and be there in time for the historic event.

I imagined portraits of people on the platform, all with their own personal stories of why they were making the long journey instead of watching the funeral at home. My short list was growing — that was the good news.

The bad news was that this train was due to depart Penzance at 3am, on the morning of what already promised to be a long day for me.

Bleary-eyed, I dragged myself down to the station at 2.40am, passing drunks on the way who were no doubt celebrating Her Majesty’s life of service.

Greg Martin

With its engine running, the train was waiting at Platform 2, which was lit beautifully, but, to my crushing disappointment, completely empty. A train guard appeared and asked if she could help me.

Feeling a bit silly, I explained my best-laid plan, whilst wishing I had slept through my alarm. She replied that the train was empty so far, but there were some reservations booked, so perhaps people would just turn up at 2.55am.

2.55am came and went, and as the train dispatcher flashed his torch from the far end of the platform to signal it was all clear to depart, the train guard gave me a smile of commiseration and boarded the empty carriage.

Feeling like I was in some sort of frustrating dream, I ambled home, past the drunk teenagers, and straight back into bed, wondering if I was still allowed to tick ‘special train’ off my list.

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