The life of Harry Potter author JK Rowling can be traced back to the impossibly romantic first meeting of two strangers on a train from London’s King’s Cross to Arbroath in early 1964.
Peter Rowling had decided to join the Navy, and Anne Volant was already in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.
They were both 18 and had been stationed at the Condor Barracks on the outskirts of Arbroath, which in the 1960s became the home of the Royal Navy.
Peter had gallantly offered to lend Anne his coat when she complained about how cold it was on the train, and they started chatting.
It was love at first sight and before the long train journey came to an end they were exchanging kisses beneath duffel coats.
By the time they reached Arbroath they were a confirmed couple.
The rest is history.
The pair abandoned their naval careers and married on March 14 1965.
JK was born on July 31 that year, when the couple had moved to the Bristol area.
Without that train journey from London to Arbroath JK’s parents might never have met – and Harry Potter may never have come into existence – and legend has it that a train journey was the original inspiration for the series.
This time it was aboard a delayed Manchester to King’s Cross service in 1990.
JK conceived and began to plot her seven-book opus aboard that train, before her celebrated arrival in Edinburgh in 1993 with three chapters of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone in her suitcase.
She said: “I was going by train from Manchester to London, sitting there thinking of nothing to do with writing, and the idea came out of nowhere.
“I could see Harry very clearly: this scrawny little boy, and it was the most physical rush of excitement – I’d never felt that excited about anything to do with writing.
“I’d never had an idea that gave me such a physical response.
“So I’m rummaging through this bag to try and find a pen or a pencil or anything.
“I didn’t even have an eye-liner on me, so I just had to sit and think, and for four hours – ’cause the train was delayed – I had all these ideas bubbling up through my head.
“I can’t describe the excitement to someone who doesn’t write books except to say it was that incredibly elated feeling you get when you’ve just met someone with whom you might eventually fall in love.
“That was the kind of feeling I had getting off the train -as though I’d just met someone wonderful, and we were about to embark on this wonderful affair.
“That kind of elation, that light-headedness, and the excitement, and so I got back to my flat in Clapham Junction and started writing, and I’ve now been writing for 10 years so it’s been a good affair,” she told the BBC in 2001.
“For me, King’s Cross is a very, very romantic place; probably the most romantic station, purely because my parents met here, so that’s always been part of my childhood folklore.
“My dad had just joined the navy, my mom had just joined the R.E.N.’s, they were both travelling up to Arbroath in Scotland – from London – and they met on the train pulling out of King’s Cross.
“So I wanted Harry to go to Hogwarts by train; I just love trains, I’m a bit nerdy like that.
“And obviously therefore it had to be King’s Cross.”
In the first chapter of her book, Quidditch Through the Ages, in 2001, Rowling made a reference to the location her parents first journeyed to together.
Guthrie Lochrin, a Scottish wizard writing in 1107, spoke of the “splinter-filled buttocks and bulging piles” he suffered after a short broom ride from Montrose to Arbroath.
But whatever chaos ensues in Rowling’s magic universe, that 1964 rail journey from London to Arbroath means that Harry Potter and the Angus town will be forever linked.
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