My first time ‘home pass’ or ‘back on the cushions’ was when I was still only a cleaner at Farnley Jct. I was riding out with the crew on a York – Swansea parcels service – we were relieved at Stalybridge, by Stockport Edgeley men, returning to Leeds by service train. When I moved south to 70A, early in 1963, I had few turns where the duty sheet read book on at – ‘and travel passenger to’. These were usually Special ‘boat trains’ or Special ‘banana trains’. The boat trains could be either work down to the docks and home pass or the other way round.
On the banana trains I only ever travelled down pass to Eastleigh; a stroll to the shed, and then light engine to the docks to collect the van train for Nine Elms goods. On these banana trains I fired WC / B-o-B pacifics, 73xxx Standard Class 5s, and the 75xxx Standard 4s but, sadly, never one of the 76xxx Class 4s, like the one in the photo. I recall, on one occasion, travelling down to Eastleigh, with another crew and, to pass the time, the four of us started playing cards, only to end up leaping off the train as it began to move off. Another 30 seconds and we would have had to explain how we ended up in Southampton – with egg on face.
The most famous ‘on the cushions’ job was, of course, the Flying Scotsman non-stop service where the relief crew rode in the train from Kings Cross to York and then made their way through the corridor tender, to the footplate, the relieved crew returning the same way back to the coaches. The corridor tender was designed to allow crew changes to be made during the long non-stop services from London to Edinburgh, and were fitted to around 20 of Gresley’s A4 Class 4-6-2s, specifically for this purpose.
If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it: