Named after ‘Public Schools’ these engines were, for the most part, driven and fired by the kids from Bash Street School, even if the Public School boys did want to be engine drivers when they grew up. Back in the day railway work was a job for life, and several generations of the same family often in railway employment. In my own time on the railway I worked with several drivers whose brothers or sons were also footplatemen at the same shed. One father and son I worked with at Nine Elms, the Domms, were seriously injured when they were struck by a light engine.
The railway wasn’t just a job for life there was a whole culture which went with it. The BRSA, British Railway Staff Association had a network of clubs around the country were railwaymen, and their wives and families, enjoyed a drink, a dance, and ‘light’ entertainment’, risque comedians were not unknown, well some of them were. The Mutual Improvement Class went well beyond teaching the rules and how the vacuum brake operated; they held a variety of regular social events and Inter-regional quizzes.
There was a strong element of mutualism within the blue collar grades on the railway and the Enginemens Mutual Assurance, whose roots go back to Saltley in the 1860s, is a classic of self-help, or ‘Mutual Aid’ – it is also still in existence. All the railwaymen I worked with, pretty much, were members of the ‘Mutual’ the BRSA, ASLEF/NUR and attended the MIC, which might not have been a Public School, but it was the only schooling, in their job, they received and, as such, was invaluble.
The photograph shows Schools Class 4-4-0, No.926 Repton, passing under Darnholme Bridge on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
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:
Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.