Back fast

After having our bait and the game of bar billiards in the BRSA club we crossed to the up platform and relieved the crew who worked the train in from Weymouth. My first tasks when stepping aboard were to check the water in the boiler and the fire; the  fireman I relieved would help by looking after taking water. However, I have to say that, in general, I don’t remember any incidents, there was usually a decent fire and at least a half a glass of water. What always struck me, and it was the same at Salisbury, the firemen were often older than my mate ‘Sooty’ Saunders – what they must have thought of us doesn’t bare thinking about.

There were two engines I particularly associated with the back working off the 08:35 down, Merchant Navys No.35024 East Asiatic Company and No.35029 Ellerman Lines. Both were fine machines, No.35029 Ellerman Line is now a sectioned exhibit in the National Railway museum, No.35024 East Asiatic Company was cut up. And that really is a shame, as she was a very fine engine.

Thanks to Richard (Joe) Jolliffee, I have a log of one of my runs with No.35024 on the 17:30 Ex-Waterloo, in December 1964, which shows just what a flyer she was. The load was 11 for 373 tons, and we went through West Byfleet, 21 miles out, in even time, which included a signal check, down to 20mph, between Vauxhall and Queens Rd. and the permanent 40mph speed restriction through Clapham Jct. Our top speed was 86mph through Esher but, from just beyond  New Malden to West Byfleet speed never dropped below 80mph. We went through Woking in under 24 minutes, better than mile a minute,  but, from there on the run was wrecked by repeated signal checks.

Unfortunately I don’t have any logs of the return off the 08:35 down, most of the loggers would have been at work. However, whenever ‘Sooty’ and I were together I would usually get to do a spot of driving and on the turn, it was ‘my turn’ once we left Southampton. Sooty would take the tip and ease her out of the station and then I would take the regulator to Worting Jct. All the firing was pretty much done by that point, a splash round at Farnborough and that would be it. After passing Surbiton it was time to put some water in the bucket and have a quick tidy up before running into Waterloo and handing over to the relief crew, who took the engine back to the shed. A lovely day out – and paid for it too.

The photo shows fresh from overhaul B-o-B No.34081 92 Squardon deoartng from Quorn & Woodhouse station on the Great Central Railway.

My thanks to Richard (Joe) Jolliffee for the details of the running with MN No.35024 East Asiatic Company in December 1964.

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:



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