Once upon a time, a long, long, time ago I cleaned engines, just like this one, for £3 – 12 – 0, (£3.60p), for a 42.5 hour week. Starting in a new job has its own rituals, being sent on fools errands, or, as happened to one cleaner at Farnley Jct. being put in a wagon and sent off-shed down to Copley Hill Yard. My ‘initiation’ was being shut in the firebox, of an engine on washout, and smoking rags put in the ash pan below me – nice!
Cleaning engines is a mucky job but, there were perks, we got to play aroud on them, moving them about the shed; taking them off the ash pits and putting them in the shed, turning on the triangle, shunting out the washouts and so on – all under supervision of course. There was always stuff going on and, if there wasn’t we got up to no good – water fights with the washout bags was a favourite, baseball with a brake stick and coal eggs was another.
We’d be given a couple of engines to clean and then be told to ‘keep out of the way’ once you’ve done. These were the times you could go off shed, to Copley Hill Yard, with the shed pilot, to take the stores wagon and the ash wagons, returning with fresh supplies of coal and stores. In freezing weather we were kept busy stoking the braziers, to keep the water columns ice free, which was fun. Much like making a 100+ mile round trip, to take photographs of a ‘black’ Jube, at the top of Aisgill, on Sunday tea time.
In the photograph, No.45690 Leander is seen working the returning Dalesman from Carlisle to York.
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: