TREVOR HOWARD and Celia Johnson would not have wanted even the briefest of encounters at Carnforth station in Lancashire if they met today.
The station chosen by director David Lean for his 1945 black-and- white film now stands lonely and unloved, its peeling paint and boarded windows a mere echo of the bustling interchange it once was. The most memorable scene is set in the refreshment room, when Celia gets a piece of coal dust in her eye from a passing train and Trevor, playing a doctor, comes to her assistance. They fall in love but, as both are married, observe the strict moral code of the day.
The refreshment room - like all the other station buildings - is boarded up. There is broken glass on the platform, stalactites hang down from the ceiling, the underpass is allegedly a haunt for drug users and rain falls through the missing panes of the glass roof. Alf Bergus, 84, from Halton near Lancaster, who was the fireman on the train in the film and who worked on the railways for 45 years, remembers the station's prouder days. Now, looking at the broken platform clock that featured in the film, he says: "I have been here a few times since and to be honest there are many times I could cry. Everywhere you look it is just falling to pieces and the windows are boarded up. It is a terrible thing." Carnforth has been chosen as the winner of The Independent's Worst Station Award in recognition of its present poor state of repair, especially when compared with its previous glory and the obvious potential for improvement. We asked readers to nominate their candidates for stations that needed urgent investment after Railtrack handed out awards to 20 of its best stations. Susan Howard, also from Halton, who nominated Carnforth, also recalled the station from when she was a child. Standing on the platform, she shook her head. "There isn't a facility in sight. Never mind a cafe and waiting room there are no drinks machines or toilets. …