September 64

Regular Steam Age Daydreams supporter, David Fisher, very kindly sent me a copy of Clive Groome’s book,  “British Steam The Final Years – (Extracts from the diary of a Nine Elms Engine Driver)”, and in there, under the entry for the 1st to 5th of September 1964, I was Clive’s fireman on the 19:54 Waterloo – Basingstoke service. I must have been covering for his regular mate as the 19:54 was a 4 Link duty and I was a 3 Link fireman,  where my regular mate was Eric ‘sooty’ Saunders.

The engines Clive lists on the down runs were all BR Standard Class 5s Nos. 73043, the now preserved 73050, and the ‘Standard Arthurs’  No.73083 Pendragon and 73112 Morgan Le Fay.  Clive comments on my efforts by saying I, ‘Worked hard to good effect’ – which is nice to know. The 19:54 Waterloo – Basingstoke had been my first real trip out on the former LSWR main line, after I arrived at Nine Elms in 1963, that Clive had noted in his diary, 18 months later,  working with me, and on this turn in particular, makes his comments even more enjoyable.

The return workings, which  Clive also comments on, were all made with West Country Class Pacifics; Nos. 34025 Whimple, 34047, Callington and 34104 Bere Alston.  The comments about this were that all of them got up to 50 plus from starting out of Farnborough to passing MP31 but, No.34025 made it over the top at 55mph on 35% cut-off and full regulator – I must have had three shredded wheat for breakfast that day!

It is no surprise that I was working with Driver Groome, as No.3 Link was very much a cover Link with whole weeks booked “HR”, ‘Holiday Relief’. On these weeks you might find yourself covering one fireman for a whole week or for a different one each day and, as a result, you fired for  different drivers and on different turns each day. In this instance it very much looks as though I was covering for Clive’s regular mate for the whole week.

I do find it strange sometimes to be able to read about events which took place in my life, more than fifty years ago. Knowing exactly where on the planet you were, at what time, and, were my efforts with the shovel feature in timing logs, knowing to the very second, is so unlike the usual experience of the past where everything is so much less precise.

The Photo, taken at Quorn & Woodhouse on the GCR, shows BR Class 5 Standard No.73084 Camelot, aka No.73156.

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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