During the School Summer holidays, in the 50s and 60s, the railways saw lots of ‘special traffic’, everything from day trip excursions to the races or the seaside, to entire trains hired by the big mills or the local ‘miner’s welfare’. All manner of motive power and coaching stock could be drafted in to work these trains. My old pal Walter Hobson, as a passed cleaner at Manningham, worked an excursion train full of mill workers, from Braford to Morecambe and back, with a Derby 4 and during my spell at Wakefield (Belle Vue) I took a train load of miners to Blackpool and back, though not with a Derby4.
It would have been around this time of year, in 1966, my recollections of the day are that we set out from Sharlston, and I have a memory of crates of beer and bottles of spirits being loaded onto the train, from a porter’s barrow. This trip was to be my one and only ‘short rest’ duty. The journey to Blackpool was pretty uneventful and we took the engine to the shed and booked off. I think we had about 5 hours before it was time to book on again and go to collect our train for the trip back to Wakefield. I can’t be certain, at this distance in time, about our engine but, No.45694 Bellerophon, does ring a bell.
It would be dark before we got back so I’d filled and lit the lamps before we went off-shed and, by the time we’d hooked up and I’d put the lamps on the front it, was time to go. Again, on the footplate, ‘it was just another day at the office’, until, that is, we were held by signals approaching Preston. I got down from the engine to carry out rule 55 and some of the miners on the train began to climb / drop from the carriages. It took the best part of twenty minutes, to half an hour, to get them back onto the train and make sure no one had been left wandering about on the track. God only knows how much disruption this caused as the bobby had to close the opposite running line to ensure safety, and departures out of Blackpool following us must have been spitting blood, or rubbing their hands at all the overtime they were earning!!
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: