My old mate, the late Walter Hobson, was, during the 60s, a fireman at Old Oak Common – he always called the panniers ‘pupticks’, based on the noise the vacuum pump makes; particularly noticeable when the engine is coasting or ‘running on a breath’. The steam age railway was a pretty noisy place, from the clickety-click, clickety-clack right through to the ear splitting roar of the safety valves.
When working loose coupled goods / coal trains, some of the old drivers used to say it was like ‘counting sheep’. When you drew out the train you counted couplings going taut, when braking the train you counted the buffering ups. Though the ‘top link’ usually got the cream of the workings, the driver of the loose coupled train was the one who had to use some skill in starting and, possibly, more importantly stopping his train. Set off too quickly, before you’ve drawn out all the couplings, and the whiplash effect could snap a coupling or worse, injure the guard. Starting and stopping could be particularly tricky, with a long train, where some of the wagons may be on a rising gradient, whilst the rear of the train was still on a falling one, or vice versa.
Sound even played a roll in a driver’s route knowledge, especially during the hours of darkness. The sounds of bridges and cuttings differed depending on the closeness / width of the bridge or width / depth of the cutting. At night time in the pitch black of the countryside ‘every little helps’, as they say, when it comes being aware of exactly whereabouts you are.
No.6430, is crossing ‘pound field’, alongside the river Dee, travelling towards Carrog.
My own footplate life is now being told in a series of part-works – the first part of those memories of life on the footplate in the 1960s is now available, in print, or as an Ebook, which, at £1.99, has to be a bargin.
Here’s the link to Part I : https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?linkCode=kpd&ref_=k4w_oembed_gOoNjfwj3yip64&asin=B07HMKTWMT&tag=kpembed-20&amazonDeviceType=A2CLFWBIMVSE9N&from=Bookcard&preview=inline
Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics. They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.
The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.