At this time of the year the “World’s Smallest Public Railway” is at full steam ahead for the summer season. The 13 magnificent 1/3rd full size locomotives with names like “Northern Chief”, “Green Goddess” and “Black Prince” plough up and down the 13.5 mile line from Hythe to Dungeness.
The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, you can read all about them on their excellent website http://www.rhdr.org.uk/. But what I want to talk about is Anthropomorphism, take a look around, it’s everywhere……
Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behaviour to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena
The Victorian painter Edwin Landseer enthralled his public and Queen Victoria, his number 1 Fan, with his charming renditions of animals in human situations. Paintings such as “Trial by Jury”, “Dignity and Impudence” and, most famously “Monarch of the Glen” ( featured on the Dewars Whisky bottle) appealed to Victorian tastes, although now they are very much out of favour.
That doesn’t mean that today anthropomorphism is unfashionable, in fact we can’t resist it. The Disney empire is based on animals in human guise Mickey Mouse, Goofy and so on. The cartoon world abounds with it, advertisers love it, The Direct Line phone, Winston the Churchill Insurance Bulldog, Comparethemarket.com, meerkats and so on.
One of my favourite anthropomorphic characters is the Michelin man – a stack of tyres as a cuddly human – that shouldn’t work, but it does, he looks so friendly and trustworthy – for a pile of tyres….
Anyway, back to the little railway. Last week it was Thomas the Tank Engine Day at the RHDR. Thomas’s “face” was attached to one of the regular locomotives. He’s great favourite and it’s good to see that anthropomorphism is alive and thriving on the Romney Marsh.