This is where Henry lived with his wife Mary and their only child, a daughter. Mary died a long time ago and Henry had to move in with his daughter who looks after him. He is 98 years old. After much persuasion he finally agreed that this, the family home must be sold.
Henry was a hard-working man with strong moral principles. He's been a prominent member of his local chapel all his life. Among his paperwork includes a certificate dated January 1940 confirming him on the register of Conscientious Objectors. Interestingly he must have had to attend a formal interview to justify his beliefs so had written prepared answers based on questions he thought the authorities might ask, along with character references. Also there was a letter dated September 1976 congratulating him on 25 years service to the BBC as a gardener.
This is not just an abandoned house - its a home. In this home are meaningful and treasured possessions but also a home full of memories. This was a sanctuary from the outside world, a place to lead a simple life.
[Note - I wrote the above in 2017]
The train in question is the Eurostar 373018, one of many Eurostar Class 373 trains that started operating in 1994. Capable of speeds up to 186 mph, the Class 373s were specifically designed to transport passengers between London, Paris, and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel.
Since 2016, however, many 373s have been withdrawn or scrapped, despite just 22 or 23 years in service. Eurostar 373018 is officially in storage, but the word “abandoned” seems more appropriate.
Branches from nearby trees now reach out and touch its windows. Weeds rise up from the rusting tracks on which it sits. Graffiti covers what were once the clean lines of the train’s streamlined form. It looks like the kind of place where Rick Grimes would butcher a bunch of zombies, or where Mad Max would go shopping if he wanted to buy a train.
What the future holds for this high-speed train is anyone’s guess. So far, 18 of the 373 Class trains have been sent to be scrapped by European Metal Recycling (EMR) at Kingsbury in the West Midlands region of England. Others have been scrapped in France, three have ended up in museums or colleges, and some lucky 373s have been refurbished and remain in service.
Eurostar 373018, however, remains in “storage” in the north of France, a fine nesting place for birds, an interesting canvas for graffiti artists, and an intriguing landmark for train enthusiasts, eagle-eyed users of Google Earth, and urban explorers like AdcaZz whose video exploration of the train you can check out on YouTube.
And if you’re wondering why these 373s were abandoned and not reused elsewhere, well, it seems like a few factors were in play. Technology had simply moved on, leaving these 22-year-old trains out of date. It was also more cost efficient to bring in a modern fleet rather than overhaul these existing trains, especially as the replacements had a greater seating capacity, meaning more money over less time. In the end, therefore, many of the 373s were deemed “life-expired.”