In my last post, ‘Walking into the tender’, I began to tell the tale of working a ‘short rest’ excursion to Blackpool. We’d taken a train load of miners, their wives, and kids from collieries around Wakefield to the seaside and taken our engine down to Blackpool loco; now it was time to book off and take rest. What we actually did was take off our overalls, get washed, and make our way into town to enjoy a plate of whelks, washed down with a foaming ale – on second thoughts it was beer and fish ‘n’ chips.
I don’t recall the exact departure time of the return working but, if memory serves it was around the 7 /7.30pm mark. We needed the pilotman again for the run down to Preston and, as things turned out, it was a good job we did. Not unsurprisingly, we were held by signals as we approached Preston and, unbelievably, some of the more well lubricated miners began opening the carriage doors and relieving themselves. This was not good, it became infinitely worse when several of them clambered / fell out of the train. The one saving grace was that they hadn’t climbed down into the 4′.
However, we still had to notify the bobby and tell him to block the down until we were sure the line was clear and that all the miners were back on the train. What a pantomime it was getting the idiots who had jumped down, back into the train. Myself, the guard, and a couple of the more sober stewards pulled, pushed, and heaved them back on board. The whole incident took the best part of half an hour to resolve, getting the men back on the train, checking the doors, and the trackside to make sure we hadn’t left some, worse for the wear, miner laid on the rails.
I don’t recall any footplate drama during the return trip but, we’d had enough of the drama already. What I do remember is that we had to stable the stock before heading light to loco – a short rest it might have been but, I was looking forward to a longer one before my next shift.
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: