Sleepers are, I imagine, not something one comes across much these days. Not the old wooden ones at least.
Sleepers were of course the heavy chunks of wood that ran the length and breadth of the country below our train tracks. They sat perpendicular to the rail line and supported it. I see they have pre-formed concrete replacements in place these days, not quite the same as a nice chunk of wood but probably a whole lot cheaper and more economical and ‘green’.
But it did make me think… When a sleeper was retired, they were sold off to the public and used for numerous tasks. One of the most cmmon was as supports for sheds in gardens. One would build one’s shed on the sleepers, thus keeping it off the damp ground and reducing the chances of rot. My own beloved shed is built on two huge sleepers I believe. My Dad put the shed up in 1970 I think. It is still there and I believe the sleepers are still in good condition.
But what really got me thinking was… I wonder which steam trains had passed over those very sleepers? I was trying to imagine the thousands of people who had been carried over them, where were the going, what were they doing? Where did my two sleepers sit for so many years? A lovely thought. They have been sleeping peacefully in my garden for 44 years and long may they remain.
Actually I should learn to Google before posting these days. It seems they are still available, some from ‘beneath the tracks of assorted European tcountries’. Even more romantic than I imagined! http://www.uksleepers.co.uk/product-catalogue/Reclaimed_Railway_Sleepers