Waggling signals

Nearing the summit at Aisgill, with the Fellsman, is Ex-LMS Jubilee Class 4-6-0 No.45699 Galatea; she looked and sounded on fine form as she swept round the curves between Lunds viaduct and Shotlock Tunnel. The photo is taken from the top of the tunnel and you can just make out the footbridge, over the line at Lunds, on the left edge.

I was joined on my lofty perch by a chap from Barrow and we passed a pleasant half hour chatting about railways and railwaymen; a conversation which produced a wonderful little anecdote about a spot of ‘on duty’ lubrication for the crew of the Tebay banker.

When he was younger, in the steam era,  he was friendly with some of the crews who worked at Tebay, who told him a tale of ‘after hours’ in, I think he said, the Junction Hotel.  They would cross over the foot bridge, by the shed, and make their way up to the pub and into the back room, which had a large bay window, from which could be seen the very tall signals, at the end of the platform at Tebay Station.

The standing arrangement was that, if an approaching train was in need of a banker, for the climb to Shap summit, the Bobby would waggle the signal arms up and down a couple of times and the crew would down their beer and head for the shed. In the tale, the hapless crew get back on the footplate only to find the fire half dead and not a lot of steam. It goes almost without saying that any banking assistance that was provided was minimal to say the least!

Today any railwayman having a few pints, in such a fashion, and whilst on duty would be sacked – when folk say, ‘it was different back then’, really aren’t kidding.

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: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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