Great Western Coffee Shop

All across the Great Western territory => Introductions and chat => Topic started by: grahame on March 16, 2020, 07:09:36 am

Title: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on March 16, 2020, 07:09:36 am
In famous "Blind Date" (*) terms - "what's yer name and where d'ya come from?"

This thread is a "re-Hi" for members old and new ... I anticipate that many of us will be spending a lot more time at home over the next few months, and this is a "get to know you" thread for our forum which is positioned to be able to provide some sort of relief from social isolation, as well as updated information and views.  Separate overview thread at [to be added in next few minutes - {{ edit - done - }}

Let me start ...

Grahame ... I live in Melksham, Wiltshire and by background I'm an IT person - finding through my career that I enjoy working with people and helping them using IT too - hence I spent most of my time running training courses, which I've found very rewarding.  Nearly due for my bus pass, I have been winding down the IT training and describe myself as "semi-retired"; the current CoronaVirus stuff being a logical time for me to move on to declaring myself fully retired, though I'm still happy to teach you Python, help you get to grips with old PHP, Perl, Lua or Ruby code, and do a bit of consultancy.

My interest in public transport has been lifelong, though it was dormant from a move from the home counties to Wiltshire in 1979 through to 2005.  At that point, my wife pointed me to a letter in our local newspaper - "Do you realise you're about to loose most of your trains" and - reading into it - I felt that just 2 trains a day was a silly service for a town of 25,000 - either kill it completely, or make it useful for the general population. As they say, "the rest is history".  Moving from an initial protest phase (to ensure our case was on the radar), I would now consider myself to be very much more working as a partner with the public transport industry, as we very much have the common goal of making a success of mass transit, and of providing a good network of thinner branches to ensure good access to that mass transit.  Our campaign has moved from "Save the Train" through to the "TransWilts Community Rail Partnership" - initial phase completed there, and TransWilts has taken a life of its own, now taken over by a team looking to the medium and long term future, and to wider uses of the service in the community, and now accredited with the Department for Transport.  Although no longer anything more than an ordinary member of the CIC, I look back with pride at what we have achieved, and look to work in support of the local train and bus services that I was alerted to 15 years ago.

This forum was set up (Lee and I are the founding members) at the time that First group had taken over from National Express in running regional trains in Wiltshire.  Like many stories since, this was a far from smooth progression, with service cuts at Melksham just a micro example of what was happening elsewhere too. It was intended as a short term project, but has rather taken over my life.  Fortunaltey I have a very supportive wife, and an excellent team of friends here who are a real pleasure to work with - as are our members, including newcomers who "brave" posting here and are very very welcome to ask just about anything on transport even if covered elsewhere.

From driving 30,000 miles a year a decade ago, I've dropped back to under 1,000 miles these days.  I have still travelled around to give courses, but by public transport. That's partly for "green credentials" but also because I can work / sleep / learn on trains, and not end exhausted at the end of my journey; health issues in recent years mean I tire quickly when concentrating. Much lighter and less to carry for course has also made my luggage practical.   As well as running courses on customer sites, Lisa and I have run courses here in Melksham and from 2006 to 2018, our training centre was also "business accommodation" - a hotel tuned for business guests, initially for our courses but quickly it became a general facility for the town. We even appeared on "Four in a Bed" as a quirky place to stay in 2013.  As at date of writing this (16.3.2020) I am relieved that I am not business planning for the hotel for the next months!

With my growing background in transport campaigning, I joined the board of TravelWatch SouthWest a few years back and happily will be there for the foreseeable future.  I stood for (and was elected to) the national board of RailFuture last year - for a one year term which expires in June.  I am not standing for re-election there; it turns out to not be my "thing" though I remain very much supportive of their objectives and admiring of many of the individuals involved.

So - where am I now?   Administrator here, vice chair of Melksham Rail User Group, board member of Travelwatch SouthWest.  Active retired and living in Melksham, where I expect we will remain ... plans are we won't be moving in this decade, through realism of Coronavirus (this year) and Climate Change (this decade and beyond) somewhat reduce the chances of that from "nearly certain" to slightly less than that.  Lisa and I are planning for our Golden Wedding here in 2048.

(*) Blind Date was hosted by Cilla Black from 1985 to 2003, and has been revived from 2017 with Paul O'Grady hosting.  People are joined up on the most limited and entertaining of questions, and head off for a day out to see how they get on.  For some it works and indeed is life-changing, for others they learn about themselves and someone else and that can't be bad, can it, even if appearing on the show was just a flash in the pan.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: SandTEngineer on March 16, 2020, 07:31:52 am
Grahame, you didn't mention SHEEPBINGO.  I only stumbled across it this morning ;D

I'll write up and post my profile later today.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Witham Bobby on March 16, 2020, 12:19:35 pm
Hi I'm Nick

After a short career in the Western Region of British Railways, (started signalling at Blockley, moved to Moreton-in-Marsh, and thence to Witham in Somerset), I was offered the chance to become responsible for operations on the about-to-be-reopened West Somerset Railway, where I started on 1st March 1976 (44 years ago - ouch!)

I enjoyed my time on the big railway, particularly at Witham.  What's now East Somerset Junction was, back then, a very interesting place to work.  Fasts between London and the West Country; stoppers between Bristol and Weymouth; the Cranmore trip; a smattering of mainline freight to/from further west; and, most significantly, the Foster Yeoman stone traffic.  The latter generated all sorts of excitement.  Playing trains and getting paid for it.  Margining them across the junction, or out onto the main on their way to Westbury yard was always a challenge.  You ahd to know what was happening at all the other 'boxes on the patch.  At that time, I think all the signalboxes on the Westbury Area Manager's territory were, with the exception of the rarely opened Bruton, junctions.

When offered the chance on the WSR, I left BR with a heavy heart, but the management hadn't exactly done very much to retain my interest and commitment.  It was on the WSR that I found out precisely what a dull mob the Divisional setup were.

We had a burning desire to do what the people of West Somerset wanted - to reinstate a regular year-round service between Minehead and Taunton.  I still believe we could have done it, had there been a more enlightened attitude at Bristol.  Still, they couldn't allow a success on the branch - not after they'd made-up all those numbers to kill it off in 1971.

When the plan to start running proper services into Taunton, and after all the effort and hardships of reopening the line (some of which I will take credit for, but it was a massive team effort) I decided I'd had enough of railways, and the politics, and my life headed off in a different direction.  I made some enduring friendships at that time, for which I am grateful on a daily basis.

I'm still involved a bit with railway heritage.  I'm a founder shareholder and Financial Director of Locomotive 5542 Ltd, which owns and operated ex-GW 2-6-2T 5542.  She's currently in Devon, on the South Devon Ry.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: rogerpatenall on March 16, 2020, 02:25:24 pm
Good afternoon all. The more observant amongst you will know that I am Roger.

Born a cockney, I spent my childhood in Castle Cary - mostly as an 'illegal' in the signal box (Thank you SM Reg Hopkins, and the long-suffering team at Cary) from whence grew my interest in signalling and timetabling.
I joined the railway as a 'lad' in the box, not as a precursor to a career - centralised ps boxes were round the corner - so it was seen as more of a gap year or two.
Then, between 1964 and 2010 a career away from the railway and Somerset. But Somerset always stayed close to my heart. I travelled extensively to all corners of the world. So much so that when I retired I had accumulated well over 3 million Airmiles, and over 100 countries, and had travelled over all the major rail lines of the USA (and those of some other countries). Trains, schedules and signalling always remained a major interest.

In 1958 my family joined the Talyllyn Railway, and all holidays were spent at Towyn (as then spelt). Membership lapsed for a few years when I went to university ('uni' being an unknown concept at that time) in France, but I rejoined as a life member back in the early seventies. Although I rarely get to go up to Twywn these days, I do devote a considerable amount of time for six months every year in helping to organise Steampipes, and running the box Office, etc. Steampipes will this year celebrate it's 41st year of putting on a major film show featuring transport films - mostly of yesteryear - with accompaniment as appropriate by the noted organist Len Rawle on a Wurlitzer. All film is 16mm reel to reel, and the whole presentation (two shows at a major venue in the London area) is magical. And it raises funds for the Talyllyn as well as for our friends at the Ffestiniog and the Welshpool and Llanfair. (End of advert - but details can be posted if of interest to members).

Since 2010 I have worked as a full time volunteer at an educational charity aimed at kids with schooling problems and other educational needs. But I take every opportunity to travel by train both here and on the near continent (Subject to virus, etc!).

And any thread or post in the Coffee Shop can guarantee to catch my immediate attention by incorporating the words 'Castle Cary' - and a couple of times per year it is possible to see a 75 year old man and camera taking a day trip and spending a few hours on or around the station at Castle Cary . . ,

Thanks to everyone on the Coffee Shop for the fascinating insights so often posted and also to everyone for the unfailing courtesy that accompanies comment and discussion.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: CyclingSid on March 16, 2020, 06:39:51 pm
My name is Sid.

I grew up in LBSCR & LSWR territory, specifically Hayling Island. The Stroudley Terriers were still running, just on the wrong side of the island. I can just about remember before they built the new road bridge to the island, the weight limit on the bus meant you had to walk across the bridge (people who live inland really don't understand what wind is!).

Later spent part of my youth near Shoreham (Sussex) so was familiar with the line to Steyning and on the Horsham. The odd connection between the two is that both had road toll bridges where the tolls were collected by Southern Railway/Region staff.

My connection with railways graduated from standing on the platform at Havant, and being able to call all the stations on the stopper to Waterloo. Did a short course at Longmoor Military Railway, which is the only time I played with the real thing.

Army service in REME as electronic engineer, followed by similar in the real world.

Since we exported most of manufacturing engineering to the Far East I have worked for the NHS; they wanted somebody numerate? My area of specialism/interest is Public Health and Accessible & sustainable transport. Gives me a chance to drive a GIS.

My connection with railways now is purely as a passenger. Sorry about boring on about the other stuff!

So there you have the basics if it needs recycling as an obit.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on March 16, 2020, 08:29:22 pm
Thank you all so far, and your dark humour, Sid;  I am, however, going to be approaching you to be our data manager on the "Cycles" board ... and that's a permanent and growing area as we move to more sustainable travel.  In 10 years, we'll be asking for another "reHi" for new members!

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: CyclingSid on March 17, 2020, 06:51:45 am
"Thanks" Graham! I did wonder if I was leaving myself open to something. I will have to re-read what you posted the other day on the Data Manager role.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Phantom on March 17, 2020, 11:30:32 am
I'm Mark from Weston-super-Mare

Don't work in the rail industry but have been commuting between Weston and Temple Meads for over 25 years now.
Spend all my spare time either following Bristol City or helping out at my local social club.

With the football connection I am a moderator on two of their fans forum websites. One with over 17,000 members and the other with a few hundred - so can fully appreciate all the time and effort that goes into this site, but assume you don't get all the problems we get over there with language and rants from angry fans

At my local social club I look after all the entertainment bookings, the advertising (web, facebook, radio, local paper) and the clubs websites.

My grand dad did work at Weston station many many years ago, so that is where my liking of the railway started. Will always remember the days in trainspotting at WSM station and the driver of a class 37 let me ride the cab when the engine shunted from one end of the train to the other via the other line

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on March 17, 2020, 01:30:07 pm
With the football connection I am a moderator on two of their fans forum websites. One with over 17,000 members and the other with a few hundred - so can fully appreciate all the time and effort that goes into this site, but assume you don't get all the problems we get over there with language and rants from angry fans

We have had our issues over the years but they are few and far between.

I "cut my teeth" before Coffee Shop days on UK Yankee ( which was far less genteel at times that we are here;   I was a moderator - but not a global moderator (so same as our new Data Manager role) looking after Travel and Transport in the interesting world of international relationships and moves - visas, citizenship and things which were lifechanging.   People tend to get fraught when faced with unknown key situations, they tend to "shoot the messenger" when presented with answers that they don't like, and at times such a board can attract members who pray on the vulnerable.  There is / was also a far wider variety of people than we have here;  the Coffee Shop is a walk in the park!

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Electric train on March 17, 2020, 07:10:59 pm
I come from a large network of cables, circuit breakers and transformers …………….. and no I'm not a robot in disguise  ;D

I have worked in the National Rail Industry for 45 years BR(W) apprentice, first year in Gods Wonderful Railway Swindon Works apprentice training school and time served at OOC and Padd.

I have been involved in Traction Power Distribution since 1990, nothing like a bit of heavy current  :D and have worked in both 25kV and 750V DC systems Nationally, there is now only one Electrical Control Room (ECR) I have not visited

I travel to work by train every day, COVID-19 permitting

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: LiskeardRich on March 17, 2020, 08:28:03 pm
Richard, been here a long time.

Work in the bus industry, with considerable knowledge of that element of transport. Can often be found riding trains in my spare time exploring new places,

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: bradshaw on March 19, 2020, 09:29:20 am
Now fully retired from teaching after 40 years in West Dorset, the last 20 as a cover/supply teacher. Interest in railways started in the late 1950s/early 1960s.
After the demise of steam railways took a back seat to a certain extent. My interest re-awoke when asked to run a railway society in the school. We ran trips with like minded parents and, for a few years, took a working party to the NYMR & SVR for a week each summer.
Then in 1985 I spent 3 months at Durham on a school teacher fellowship. I spent much of the time investigating and walking the old mineral railways of that county. On my return to Dorset, I set about writing an history of the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway; completed the manuscript but unpublished. Railways continued to play an important role and I was a committee member of the Yeovil and District Rail Action Group for some years; and I spent a lot of time in the signal box at Maiden Newton until it closed in 1988. I also wrote the case for the listing of its station and signal box.
I moved to live near Bridport after marrying Marion, almost 25 years ago. During this time I have engaged in researching aspects of industrial history. I produced the manuscript for Palmers Brewery history book and, more recently, published books on the sailcloth, rope, twine and netting industries of South Somerset and West Dorset.
Railways still play an important part but not as active as before.


Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: PhilWakely on March 19, 2020, 09:38:59 pm
No prizes for guessing my given name!
Born and brought up alongside the Mule at Pinhoe and with a professional photographer for a grandfather it is no surprise that I developed an early interest in railway photography. My first solo trip as a trainspotter was at the grand old age of 8, when my parents allowed me to travel on the train to Exeter St Davids. I graduated through all phases of anorak, thermos, notebook, pen and Ian Allan ABC.

My father was a Maths teacher, so I ended up taking Pure and Applied Maths at A'Level and it was at that time I developed an interest in railway timetables. The Mule had been very badly run down, so I ended up doing a project for my Statistics S'Level on re-timetabling the Exeter to Salisbury line (after reinstating double track!). It got me an A grade and I still have it up in the loft!

After 3 years at Bath University, I was determined to have a career in railway timetabling, but sadly failed the interview at Paddington, so I ended up with a job in the fledgling computer programming industry back in Exeter with London and Manchester Assurance. Thirty One years (and two mergers) later in 2009, I was made redundant and took early retirement and was able to concentrate on my passion of railway photography.

I soon grew bored and decided to apply for a part-time job on the railway and am still there today, but can chose my shifts to fit around trips all over the country with my camera.
My photography in the early years was not particularly good, but I was shocked when somebody posted a photograph a few weeks ago on the Exeter Memories facebook page of Pinhoe station in August 1964. It features a 7-year old me, my sister and our mum watching a local train. (credited to a Ronald A Lumber) 

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Kernow Otter on March 21, 2020, 09:47:20 am
One and all

Kernow Otter is actually Tim.  Lifelong believer in railways, and a passionate supporter of the benefits of Public Transport.

The observant amongst you, might have figured out that I am in Cornwall, in Lostwithiel, and after 8 years serving on the Town Council, I am currently Mayor of Lostwithiel.  Over those 8 years the Council has been leading a drive to improve service levels and the passenger offering at our station, and it is hugely gratifying to have engaged with, and been listened to by the key influencers for the railway in Cornwall.

We have seen, the redundant sidings cleared of unsightly vegetation, a huge uplift in stopping services, engagement with GWR at regular timetable group meetings and the annual conference, new trains, new seating, a refurbished waiting room, repainted station buildings, station wifi, new platform lighting, better access to the up platform and carpark, bespoke Timetables, bespoke leaflets, and reinstated litter bins.

Lostwithiel has just been awarded £ 100k from the station access fund for accessibility enhancements to the Down platform, which we understand should coincide with a commitment from GWR, Cornwall Council, and Network Rail to relocate the former footbridge from Totnes to a new home at Lostwithiel, which will go a long way to alleviating the disruption caused by having the level crossing with the highest number of barrier movements west of Exeter.

Longer term, an application has been made to the £ 500m Beeching fund to consider reopening the branch line to Fowey for passenger service, and the suggested lifting of some of the redundant down siding capacity to provide much needed carparking.

Our community is hugely grateful for the ongoing support of GWR, NR, DBS, Cornwall Council, (in particular Nigel Blackler), Richard Burmingham at DCorP, and Sheryll Murray our MP to name but a few.

The improvements at our station have been transformative for our Town, and if you are looking for a supporter of joint and partnership working, then look no further.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Reginald25 on March 21, 2020, 06:41:43 pm
With a long interest in railways as a means of transport, I have no professional background in that area. From Reading Uni in the 60s (physics) I became a (sort of) project manager lasting in the same company for about 40 years, and working for a while in Houston. Active interest in local railways came about 20 years when I went to a slide show on the old Melksham station and have dabbled with  MRDG/MRUG ever since.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Wizard on March 22, 2020, 08:46:35 am
I’m a train driver, specialising in Class 800s.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Henry on March 22, 2020, 09:14:58 am

 Started on the Southern in the early 80's, purely 'stop-gap' until
 something else came along.
 Now in the twilight of my railway career, made a lot of good friends, personalities (mainly eccentric) some
 sadly no longer with us. The skill of the 'Railwayman/Railwaywoman' no longer exists.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Gordon the Blue Engine on March 22, 2020, 10:45:20 am
I was sponsored through university by British Railways and graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Birmingham in 1969.  My first jobs were in Traction and Rolling Stock, ending up as a manager at Old Oak Common in the late 1970’s.  It was an interesting time to be there – the HST’s were just 3 years old, and we had Class 50s, 47s, and 31s as well as lots of coaching stock of all sorts.

I then went off to Board HQ at 222 Marylebone Road, various jobs in managing change, before emerging to Network South East’s Thames and Chiltern Division.  My last move was to the fledgling Railtrack project team at Swindon setting up the new organisation, dealing mainly with safety systems and safety validation, culminating in privatisation in 1996.

I was fortunate in having an interesting and varied railway career – it was a good time to be in the railway industry.

However, my proudest moment was after I’d left Railtrack.  I was the named claimant for Railtrack shareholders in the Royal Courts of Justice against the Government in 2005.  We lost, but we got great support in the media and we finished the political career of Stephen Byers.  I learned a lot about legal processes and dealing with the media, and I still have great admiration for the expertise and sheer hard work of our legal team.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: eightonedee on March 22, 2020, 06:19:59 pm
My real name is Neil. As my forum name implies, I was born in Reading and have lived in the area to the north west of the town all my life, except when I went away to university. My wife and I have lived in the Goring Gap for 26 years this April.

By profession I am a lawyer. For the last 35 years much of my work has involved dealing with buying and selling residential development land and negotiating planning agreements with planning authorities - the famous section 106 agreements. I have found this work satisfying, helping shape the places people will live in in the future. It also explains the planning related content of some of my posts. I am about to retire from the practice I have been in for 23 years, but will be taking up a part time consultancy for a couple of years or so before retiring.

My interest in railways began when for the first 10 years of my life I lived in a house with a garden backing on to the main line to Bristol, South Wales and Oxford. I would climb up a sapling just outside the spear fencing and watch the last days of steam on the Western Region, diesel hydraulics, Southern steam on the Pines Express etc. and retained an interest thereafter. I became a customer when I commuted from Tilehurst to the City in the early and mid-1980, and again after on office move to Guildford in 2001 - I have commuted from Goring ever since. My new post is also Guildford based, so once I am allowed to end home working I may yet get to try a class 769 on the North Downs line.

I have many other interests, notably birdwatching. I have been heavily involved in bird-related organisations and activities, local and national, for many years.


Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: johnneyw on March 22, 2020, 08:52:03 pm
I believe that I will not cause any shock waves of surprise to forum members when I say my actual name is John.
I've had no past employment in the rail industry and my work history is unremarkable enough for me to sometimes tell people that I worked as a Hitman (for Mothercare) just to keep their attention from wandering.
My interest in rail stemmed from very early on with rail travel to my paternal and maternal grandparents in Nottingham and Hamburg respectively. Additionally, there have been numerous examples of "railway lines at the back of the garden", either existing or former, at quite a few past and present wider family home locations.
I'm currently a member of FOSBR and a few heritage railway societies although a bit promiscuous with my renewals. I remain faithful to a couple of them however and have also been a continuous member of the Cotswold Canals Trust since I was young and hansome! 😁!
Although born in Plaistow, I've lived in Bristol most of my life and like to start most of my rail journeys from Redland Station.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: eightf48544 on March 23, 2020, 02:40:58 pm
Hello my name is John. My username comes from one of the best days out I've had, namely Friday 4th June was the last day of my footplate experience during my BR Management Training.
I'd already had a number of rides on 4 SUBS, Standard 4 tanks on Tunbridge Wells  to Eastbourne and even on one of the original SR electric locos not sure which one. I heard that there was to be  a steam hauled Newcastle Hove pigeon special on the Friday and Central Division didn't have any 33s spare so we'd use the loco which bought it from Willesden to Stewarts Lane so footplate pass in my pocket I turned up at Stew Lane and was shown where the train was and met the crew. They were Norwood men and hadn't been on a steam loco for 2 years.  The train was 21 or 22 vans with a support coach for the pigeon club stewards.

I am afraid I didn't take any notes so I'll give you a brief idea of the run. On the right of way we started we started up to Pouparts Junction where we joined the Line from Victoria then through Clapham Junction, around this time the fireman started the exhaust steam injector, which stayed on to Haywards Heath (despite rumours that Stanier's injectors weren't very reliable) where we stopped for water and to be  passed by the down Eastbourne. We had had green lights all the way from Stew Lane to Haywards Heath and on to Hove. a considerable feat of the timetablers and signalmen considering we didn't get much above 50 mph. After our stop we proceeded to Preston Park where we took the line to Hove and were routed into the yard.

Throughout the run 48544 was in complete mastery of the train and galloped along, firing was relatively light and the exhaust injector behaved itself.

The fireman and I retired to the pub! When we got back with a bottle for the driver to find he'd cleaned the fire. After being released from the train we proceeded tender first to Brighton which effectively turned to be chimney first to Redhill shed. Where we parked the loco and caught a train back to East Croydon where I said goodbye to the crew. Surprised to think it was nearly 55 years ago.

You may not believe this tale but I have  2 published  photos of  48544 on the Brighton line with a pigeon special on 4th June 1965, however you can't see me on the footplate.

I left the railways in August 68 (an apropriate date) to take up computing ending up in Information Security for the NHS.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Robin Summerhill on March 23, 2020, 08:22:57 pm
You may not believe this tale but I have  2 published  photos of  48544 on the Brighton line with a pigeon special on 4th June 1965, however you can't see me on the footplate.

Oh I an believe it - an everyday story of railway folk from back when.

I was at Bristol Bath Road in October 1971 at the time of the first ever steam run on BR (Flying Scotsman excepted) since 1968. Operation 6000 was going on with the "Bulmers Pullman Train" having a run out on BR metals with 6000 King George V at the business end. Bath Road were given the job of manning it between Bristol and Hereford.

I happened to be speaking to the ASLEF LDC rep at the time and asked him how they were going to do it. Ask for volunteers? Pick someone specific for the job? "Oh no" came the reply, "the job will go to the first spare crew in the link for that day."

By October 1971 no Bath Road driver or fireman had worked on a steam locomotive since November 1965 (or perhaps March 1966 for the ex-S&D men). Nobody had worked on a "King" by then for at least 9 years.

So much for "traction knowledge" in steam days!

And it was of course commonplace for drivers to go down the pub. A friend of mine who was a fireman at Barrow Road in the 1950s will tell the tale as often as somene will listen about the day he was working ECS from Lawrence Hill sidings into Temple Meads with a 4F. His driver had cleared off to the pub and told his fireman (the friend in question) to crow a few times when they got the road to alert him. He did and his driver didn't hear it.

With the signalman at Lawrence Hill junction franticly waving at him to "get a f****** move on" he ended up taking the 4F and 9 or 10 mk1s single manned into the old platform 12 in the old station.

They don't know they're born today...  ;D

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: eightonedee on March 23, 2020, 10:23:37 pm
You may not believe this tale but I have  2 published  photos of  48544 on the Brighton line with a pigeon special on 4th June 1965, however you can't see me on the footplate.

This got me ferreting around on Google. I found the two photos on Flickr with this accompanying explanation-

Charlie Verrall  8y
At the time david I worked in the Central Divsion Traffic Managers Office doing engine diagrams. As you know by this time steam had all but disappeared and our options for special workings were very restricted. The Cromptons had been spread across Eastern, Central and Western Divisions and were not so freely available as they were a couple of years or so before. The Locomotive Section was across the corridor to me so i went and asked them their opinion, especially since the load was at least 18 loaded coaches on a not paticulary slow schedule and could possibly have require the services for two diesels. If I recall they felt that would not have been a good option, but they could provide crews with steam experience. So it was a matter of calling Crewe and getting them to agree to steam haul with an 8F from Willlesden, to which they agreed to. They had done so in the past with Black 5s on through excursions.
What was interesting is the train arrived at Stewarts Lane Junction double headed by a Standard Class 2 2-6-0, which would suggest they too felt the load was pretty heavy. The Willesden crew also wanted to work throught, however they were persuaded to go home with the Class 2.
The empties, if we can call them that since they were still loaded with pigeon guarno, were booked back in the following Saturday, via Haywards Heath, but when I checked on the Monday Redhill Control had decided the load was too heavy to go via the Cliftonville spur and Preston Park, etc., and rerouted it via the Steyning line to Three bridges. As far as I know the Class 8 worked the return service, I never sawit and no photographs appear to have come to light.
The job I did was interesting from an enthusiats point of view in as much as I knew if anything out of the ordinary was going on, otherwise it was pretty routine - especially after all the sheds had closed. What was more interesting were some of the people I worked with, the names of several would be familiar to you. People such as Chris Gammell, J J (John) Smith, S C (Sid) Nash, Malcolm Burton and many others.

Can we start a thread of unusual railway related stories from forum members? I have one about losing a government minister at Southampton Airport Parkway......

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on March 23, 2020, 10:50:58 pm
Can we start a thread of unusual railway related stories from forum members? I have one bout losing a government minister at Southampton Airport Parkway......

Of course we can - please start away!

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Oxonhutch on March 24, 2020, 04:43:30 pm
I am a petroleum geologist for an international oil & gas company. Based now in London, for the last ten years I have been commuting daily from the Thames Valley into Paddington – CoViD-19 excepted. After graduating with a degree in geology, what should have been a quick 2 year master’s degree at Wits University, Johannesburg turned into a 30 year career in gold mining and exploration geology that took me to some amazing parts of Africa, Australasia and the world. In 2000 I was seconded to the USA where I lived for 5 years before returning to my ancestral home and morphed my skills into the local petroleum industry.

My love of trains has been lifelong, cycling from age 5 down to the now closed level crossing to watch Black Fives dragging their load over to East Lancashire. I listened from my bedroom window the final steam whistles from Lostock Hall shed, enjoyed my extensive OO train set and later joined the University railway club. I now volunteer on a local heritage railway both in the S+T department, as a signalman and occasionally as duty manager.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: SandTEngineer on March 24, 2020, 09:33:53 pm
Hello all.  Some of you know me as Chris, and have a vague idea that I work in the Signal and Telegraph (now, Telecommunications) discipline on the railway.

So how did it all start?  Well, whilst at senior school in the mid-1960s, I started taking an interest in railways.  My early days were spent watching trains on the Southern end of what we now call the West Coast Main Line.  However, although my friends were typical trainspotters, I was more interested in the signals and their operation and was really intrigued to understand how they all worked. I used to watch the operation of the signalbox at Boxmoor station (now Hemel Hempstead) from an overlooking boundary fence.  I made up my mind that when I left school (then at the age of 15), that I wanted to be a signalman.  So in the spring of 1968 I contacted BR though the government ‘Central Youth Employment Executive’.  BR made an error and I received a booklet telling me all about the Signal and Telegraph discipline.  Well I thought, whats all that about then, having no idea whatsoever.  It looked quite interesting so I decided to apply for joining the S&T training scheme.  I was interviewed and told to reapply once I had completed another year of education. So, in August 1969 I joined BR Midland Region at Watford as a ‘Probationer’ (what a job title to have that was; gave my pals a good laugh)!

I then went through a four year training course that was to teach me all the basics of S&T Engineering, and elsewhere on this forum you would have seen some posts concerning my exploits during those early years.  As a BR employee I was entitled to ¼ reduced rate travel which I took advantage of by travelling all over the country, looking mostly at signalling infrastructure that was disappearing at an alarming rate. You may have seen some of my photographs from that period elsewhere on this forum

After completing my training six months early, I was appointed as a Technician based at Euston Power Signal Box (PSB), basically, oiling, greasing and scraping dirt!  Over the subsequent years I moved through various BR grades to Shift Technician Officer at West Hampstead PSB.  I was then married with a young family, and fed up with shift work, I left BR and moved into signalling design and testing with GEC-General Signal (now Alstom).  Looking for a better life for my oldest daughter who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, we decided to up roots and move to Plymouth where I joined ML Engineering (now Bombardier) as a designer and eventually project engineer.  This took me all over the country and to far flung parts of the world, such as Indonesia and Greece.  I learnt a lot about different signalling systems during those times and was proud to have been involved in designing two of the biggest relay controlled interlockings in the UK at Waterloo (3500 relays) and Clapham Junction (5500 relays)

Then, one day my world turned upside down.  Sitting in the office one morning the telephone rang and the person at the other end said “Hey Chris, have you heard, there’s been a big accident at Clapham Junction and lots of people have been killed”.  I was lost for words, and will never ever forget that telephone call.  Was it something we had done?  As it turned out our company was quickly absolved of any involvement, but that was the one and only time in my life I have been interviewed under caution by the police. 

Anyway, life moved on, and my career progressed through senior positions with RAILTRACK in Scotland, Ashford in Kent and eventually as Lead Design and Construction Engineer at London Waterloo.  In all that time I commuted weekly from/to my adopted home city of Plymouth.  Then by chance a vacancy came up to be the S&T Engineer for Amey Rail in Plymouth, being responsible for all S&T equipment and staff West of Totnes.  Once again in 2004 my life turned upside down when RAILTRACK went bust and Network Rail was created, and my job was nationalised again, but remained the same.  In 2006 it was decided to merge the Plymouth and Exeter areas so I had to reapply for my own position, was successful, and then held responsibility for all S&T assets and staff West of Taunton.  This wasn’t a very happy period in my career and I decided to take early retirement in 2008.  However, there is no holding a good S&T man back, so I ended up working as a designer and project engineer in several private contracting signalling firms, all based in Plymouth.  I finally decided to pack it all in, in 2019, after 50 years in the S&T industry.  However, real life got in the way once again, and I have ended up being Chief S&T Engineer for the preserved Bodmin and Wenford Railway, so its not all over yet........

Hope that’s not been a too long and boring story!

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Jamsdad on March 25, 2020, 12:22:29 pm
Hi everyone,
I'm Ian,I live in Liskeard, a retired University Senior Manager.
I'm a regular rail user, both locally in Cornwall and up to London, often on the sleeper and, when funds allow, back on the Pullman.
I have always had a fascination with train travel and I'm a bit of a timetable geek. Nothing better on a dark evening then to work out the cheapest way to go from Cornwall to Kyle of Lochalsh and back on a round trip not retracing steps ( Its  possible until you get to the Exeter- Liskeard bit!).
I'm also quite keen on long distance European travel. A few years ago I took the family from Liskeard to Fez by train ( Seat 61 helped alot) and I have also done a large nonTGV round trip across France on local trains, which was fine as long as the connections held up!
Upgraded GWR timetable had been excellent in Cornwall with the half hourly service meaning you could virtually turn up and go. I'm hoping it will be restored after the current emergency ends.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Robin Summerhill on March 25, 2020, 09:35:53 pm
My real name remains a tightly-guarded secret unless you happen to look in the top left hand corner of each and every one of my posts (I never saw the point of internet anonymity – I’ve always thought that if you’re not prepared to stand behind your opinions you shouldn’t spout then on a public forum!)  ;)

I was born in 1952 and was brought up in Staple Hill some 70 yards from Teewell Hill Bridge, mid way between Staple Hill and Mangotsfield stations which was at that time still the Midland main line to the north. The line was virtually all steam until c1961 but I never really took that much notice in my earlier years, despite the fact that my father was on the railway as a carpenter in the S&T department at Bristol.

Everything changed on 8th September 1962 when my father had organised a day trip for him and me to Bournemouth. I never knew, but I suspect he did, that that was the last day the Pines Express ran via the S&D, so I would have passed the final service in both directions somewhere along the route, but I was blissfully unaware of it!

As many readers will know, S&D services often spent an inordinate amount of time waiting connections at Templecombe, and so it was with the 0603 ex-Bristol, which sat there from 0837 to 0905 that morning. Whilst we were sitting there an unrebuilt Bulleid pacific hammered in, and I had never seen anything like it before. That was it, and by the time I got home that evening I had become a train spotter, which in time developed into a railway enthusiast and railway photographer. The course of much of the rest of my life was laid out on that day.

When I left school in 1969 it was almost automatic that I should join the railway, but in those immediate post-Beeching days there were few vacancies. After a short spell with the South Western Electricity Board I finally started my BR service as a payroll clerk in the Divisional Paybill Office in Bristol, moving on in 1971 on promotion to Bath Road depot and various clerical jobs there.

But as I said this was the post-Beeching era; people still got promotion based virtually entirely on seniority, and here was I in my mid-20s with armies of men 20 years my senior who were getting all the jobs that became vacant. After I applied for a Railway Studentship place in 1976 and was rejected, I finally threw in the towel and left Bath Road in September of that year.

But there was another string to my bow, so to speak. I learned to play guitar in 1968 and derived some income from that, occasionally (but rarely!) exceeding my railway salary. Initially I tried my hand at doing that professionally. Although I had had a couple of TV appearances (HTV New Folk in 1972 and ATV New Faces in 1973 where I came 4th out of 7 – Arthur Askey liked it but Micky Most didn’t!) and a few radio spots on BBC Bristol and Solent, not much remuneration came from that, so urgent steps needed to be taken. I joined a “covers” band working the pubs and clubs around the greater Bristol area, and also got a job emptying slot meters for the Midlands Electricity Board from 1977 to 1979. During this time I also took a correspondence course and got a qualification as a Cost & Management Accountant.

But I had kept my railway contacts so when I learned of a vacancy at Bristol TM as ASM’s clerk I applied for it and got it. With hindsight, that was probably the daftest career move I ever made; I had “moved on” but the railway hadn’t. It was still run on seniority; many of the middle management that I encountered seemed to think they were still Sergeant Majors in WW2, and 24 hour shift working got seriously in the way of a good income from entertainment. I lasted back on BR for 7 months and finally left in January 1980.

By now I had also left the band and was working as a solo guitarist/ vocalist/ comedian in the pubs and clubs. Solo acts earned not much less than groups in those days and the money didn’t need dividing, so that was especially useful with by now a wife and three kids to feed! But it would have been nice to have a bit more so, one Tuesday in February 1980 I set off from Yate where I was living to the labour exchanges in Chippenham and Dursley to see if there were any dead-end but straightforward jobs around that I could do for a few months before the “summer seasons” kicked in. North Wilshire District Council wanted a Rent Collector so I thought “that will do for a short while” and joined them in April. It was at this point that the plan went awry but, long term, much to my advantage...

I found that I liked it, and I found that I liked working alongside the people who actually made the Housing department “tick.” After a while I ended up as a Surveyor, and remained with the Council through the privatisation of their Housing department in 1995, by now managing their Property Attribute database, dealing with specialised projects from an outline brief, and acting as their Formal Complaints Officer (internal Ombudsman if you like). Some thought that giving me that job might have been a bad move as I was never backward in coming forward when I thought that management were acting incorrectly, and indeed it did turn me into a type of poacher come gamekeeper!

The entertainment work began to dry up in the early 1990s and a circle was completed. When I started there were pianists in pubs who the likes of me put out of business, and now there were lads a generation my junior who appealed to youngsters in pubs more than I did. I worked my last gig, at Malmesbury Bowls Club, in 1995.

Our original Chief Executive retired in 2002 and in came a new man with a new broom. Suffice to say his opinion of me was only matched by my opinion of him, and I was in the second wave of redundancies in 2004 (by choice because they did offer me a new job but it was totally office-bound and unwanted). As it happened the first wave also included my direct boss the Director of Property Services, and by the time I got slung out he had started a housing consultancy business and I joined forces with him. For the first time in my life I found that I was the sort of person who took business flights and paid higher rate tax!

Our peak was during the 2008 recession because as we were in the business of saving companies money our services were in great demand. Of course, once they’d saved the money they didn’t need us anymore and by 2015 we were pretty quiet. So one day around the summer of 2016 it dawned on me that I had retired!

If you got this far, thanks for keeping going so long!  ;D

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: smokey on March 27, 2020, 10:24:12 am
Ok here goes,

Production of Smokey commenced in the 1950s and after a 9 month build period I was rolled out by proud parents.

After a successful 5 year running trial, I suffered 10 years at school, starting a 4 year electrical apprenticeship aged 15, big mistake hated it.

Just before I turned 20 I got a fantastic Job, with the Railway in the Midlands as a SHUNTER. :D

No not a Class 08 but the man on the ground coupling, uncoupling and operating points, I did this for 6 years, absolutely great job as long as you were careful.
I shunted in various places both wagon yards and carriage sidings and at Stations.

Brilliant job in the Summer, best thing to me was riding around on the front platform of a class 08 shunt loco bouncing over points at a fantastic 15MPH.
Dare say Spoil Sport MR 'Elf Safety has put a stop to this as he, Mr 'Elf Safety didn't get to play on the 08. ;D

Worse part of the job was shunting Passenger Coaches in the rain, who ever designed MK1 passenger stock with end to end guttering should have been shot.
Absolutely horrible "going under" with a cascade of cold water pouring off the end of both carriages giving you a freezing cold shower.

Shunting passenger coaches and vans with buckeye couplers quickly gave me a right arm like "Popeye" whilst my left arm was like "Olive Oyl's"

Due to an Injury I came off shunting, and went through several jobs, Buffet Steward, Guard, and due to my electrical knowledge a switch to the CMEE dept, this saw me working on OTP (On Track Plant).

A ride on a working Tamper should be on everybody's bucket list.
Hard to describe but it's something like, on starting,
Shake your teeth out for 10 seconds, stop, leap forward by 2 sleepers, stop, Shake your teeth out for 10 seconds and repeat for hours. Amazing these early tampers didn't fall to bits. Modern PC controlled Tampers are a MUCH smoother ride.

Due to Dermatitis caused by oil, the CMEE switched me to building maintenance this saw me working out on the Track in Signal Boxes, Station buildings, Offices.

Since semi retiring I've made good use of the Railways in Britain and Ireland, hence Smokey has been very quiet on these pages past few years, I now volunteer on a Heritage railway.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on March 28, 2020, 09:22:26 am
Thank you - everyone who has posted to this thread.  It's still open - please keep them coming.

For those who have posted - people may not have commented a great deal, but there's a huge appreciation of your stories in all the "likes" you have garned, and other threads that have started / are running.

More detailed stats follow up ((here)) ( ... now, back to members to post their (re)introductions

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: eXPassenger on March 28, 2020, 10:52:11 am
I will start by saying my only direct railway connection is that I spent much of my working life based in Bristol but spending 1 or more days a week in London, so I saw the migration of HST 1st Class from BR all the way to FGW.  The nearest I can get to railways is that my grandfather was a civil engineer and his first job was as assistant engineer on the building of the Lynton and Barnstaple railway.

I am interested in the general development of the railway system as part of our industrial heritage and operationally as a complex, real time, system.

I am Devon born and one of my early recollections is waiting at the Broom crossing gates while a SR express hurtled through.  Broom gates were completely manual, but at the next crossing (Axe gates) the gates were controlled by a wheel in the signal box – very exciting for a small boy.
After reading Chemistry at Exeter University I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, specialised in IT security and then became an IT consultant.  I have worked on infrastructure, email systems and business process design with some lower level work running systems and programming, mostly for large corporates.  My final full time work was in financial services IT management.  Before finally retiring I worked part time as an IT trouble shooter for a major UK agricultural company.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: ellendune on March 28, 2020, 10:59:18 am
I am a Civil Engineer and my professional railway experience is largely limited to about 2 months working on railway tamper development for BR at Derby (and in field trials in north Nottinghamshire and the ECML) in the mid 1970's and a related final year project at university.  After that I moved into local government for a time and then in the water industry for most of the last 40 years. I live near Swindon and have regularly used trains to travel for meetings in London, Birmingham and less frequently further north for the last 30 years or so. Have also occasionally used trains to travel to meetings on the near continent (Rotterdam, Paris, Brussels and Cologne) for work. I now work part time - for the time being - from home.    

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Sixty3Closure on March 28, 2020, 10:47:02 pm
Going against the grain I have no interest in trains or railways other than as a commuter. I found the Forum after failing to get answers from FGW (as was) about poor service, electrification, train upgrades or even why my train was constantly cancelled.

I would like to say that I do appreciate all the help and information I've had over the last few years. I'm not sure knowing why my train has failed to turn up again has made me any  less grumpy but I do understand why things happen which is better than just feeling lost or angry. It's also given me a certain cachet amongst my fellow travellers when I'm able to announce with confidence that the 06.53 will be 12 carriages in December (to pick one random example). Its been a very welcoming community.

I appear to be a bit younger than many of the members and have worked exclusively in broadcasting for pretty much most of my working life. Resolutely stayed away from the technical and engineering side but have at various times been a producer, reporter, film editor, archivist, project manager and business continuity lead. Currently sitting in middle management with a job title that even I don't understand trying to work out how to keep the News broadcasting/publishing with very few staff and no one to drive any of infrastructure.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Reading General on March 29, 2020, 11:50:33 am
I'm a former driver for Reading Transport of almost 20 years. I had to stop working over a year ago to look after a family member full time as there wasn't a lot of options. I have an interest in public transport in general (pun intended) but particularly permanent forms of urban transport. My interest in railways began from quite an early age, being taken to see HST's and the like at Reading (General) station by my late father and discovering former lines on maps, heading out on a bike to find them. As I grew older, railways became my means of exploring the south for various activities in the glory days of a run down railway with slam door stock and it astounded me of the sheer variety of places possible to visit in one day from Reading.

I never particularly had any interest in buses, save for trolleybuses which my dad was interested in, I simply joined the bus company for a job as I had a licence and found myself out of work. My interest and general pestering of management for better services in my later years as a driver was for the best interests of the town rather than as a disgruntled employee, as Reading is somewhere I like to promote, even if it is a much maligned town. I've been to Europe many times, to some fairly average places with much better public transport networks than any of ours and I would like to see Reading, and the country in general, have and view public transport in the same manner. To see public transport as the best choice to move around urban areas rather than just the option if you don't have a car.


Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Red Squirrel on March 29, 2020, 02:16:08 pm
My name is Tim Weekes, and I am a born, bred and buttered Bristolian.

My interest in railways is probably in my DNA; Dad was a keen railway photographer. He could give you the number of any named GW loco, and could tell you the boiler pressure and tractive effort of every class and sub-class. One of my earliest memories is of an open day at Bath Road shed, probably in 1965. I think Clun Castle was there, and I remember being thrilled to squeeze through the hot engine room of what may have been a Western.

I was brought up in South Bristol, close to the Bristol and North Somerset Railway. We bought our first family car, a 1956 Austin A50, in 1968, and on sunny weekends we would go for a drive to Cheddar or the Mendips. It seemed that at every railway bridge we passed Dad would say ‘That was the old Slow and Dirty’ or ‘That was the line up to Yatton’. As a child, it seemed to me that decline and closure was the inevitable future of rail.

I was awarded a free place at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School in Bristol in the early seventies.  Every day I travelled into town on the No.3 bus. I watched as much of Totterdown, that amazing warren of steep streets, was torn to the ground for an massive road junction that thankfully never came. In the school library, I discovered Reece Winstone’s excellent ‘Bristol as it Was’ books, which give the lie to the popular conception that the Luftwaffe destroyed old Bristol. They didn’t - it was the Highways Engineers. At that time a ring of blight and dereliction was ripening through Bedminster, Totterdown, St Pauls, Montpelier and even into Cotham and Clifton. To me it seemed sad but inevitable that these areas would be bulldozed for urban motorways.

In my teens, I took to exploring the surrounding area by bus. In those days the Bristol Omnibus Company covered the area from Bridgwater to Hungerford and up to Cheltenham, and I have happy memories of squeezing through Axbridge in an LH, being thrown out of my seat on a speeding FLF between Gloucester and Cheltenham, bumping along lanes near Devizes in an MW, and even exploring hidden Stroud valleys in an SUS.

I worked at Rolls-Royce in Bristol for 20 years, developing computer-aided design software and later managing distributed computing networks. After a few years managing software distribution for Orange, I realised that the business my wife had set up, doing web design, was much more interesting! So I joined her, and that’s what I still do.

Railways were fairly peripheral to my life until I moved to my current house near Montpelier Station in 2001. I visited preserved railways from time to time, and used the train when travelling long distances alone, but this was probably not more than once or twice a year.

Living near a local train station has changed my perspective on what rail can offer: probably half my journeys now begin at Montpelier Station. Latterly, inspired by grahame’s campaigning, I’ve been getting more active in trying to promote rail as part of a sustainable transport system. I’m now the webmaster for Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways (FoSBR) and an adminstrator on the Coffee Shop forum.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Bob_Blakey on March 30, 2020, 01:04:39 pm
London Bus Syndrome? Another geologist (there would be more of us if people realised what an endlessly fascinating subject it is) who worked in the oil industry for 10 years until redundancy induced by the 1986 oil price crash. Which was a shame as I was enjoying living in Singapore and working on contracts in various Asian countries at the time. 28 years with a multinational telecoms outfit followed, seemingly because in 1987 I already knew how to work a computer. As you will have guessed I (also) don't do internet anonymity. And I still don't think the 'On The Buses' remarks are that funny! Retired since 08/2015. My only, extremely tenuous, connection with the railways was as the lessee of a patch of British Rail land near Cowley Bridge Junction which was used as an allotment; it was next to my first house which, at the time, was the last house on the west side of Cowley Bridge Road going north - a veritable train spotters paradise although I do remember the 'Westerns' being a tad noisy.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on March 30, 2020, 03:45:27 pm
London Bus Syndrome? Another geologist (there would be more of us if people realised what an endlessly fascinating subject it is) ...

Did I ever admit to my first two jobs being at SSL (Seismograph Services Ltd) and Seiscom ... firmly based in the UK at Petts Wood, briefly Keston and Sevenoaks, processing data from Oman then moving into computer operations, finally joining the software development team.  Lead me astray and I braced off into Computer Graphics. I refused a derisory job offer after Uni, to realise a couple of years later what a favour that offer had done me, as it had meant I had passed up a job with a company who's manager (I'm sure with hindsight) knew they were soon to announce a move of their processing out of the UK, and didn't want me to take what he knew would be only of for months but couldn't say. 

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Chris from Nailsea on April 22, 2020, 02:07:19 am
Chris from Nailsea here. ;)

That's exactly who I am: I'm Chris, and I've lived in Nailsea, North Somerset, for the past 20 years. I was born in Plymouth in 1959 and lived there, in Plymstock and Elburton until I was 14, when my family moved to Bristol.

I had no real contact with the railways, other than family days out on steam trains, but those are what I remember.  In particular, I have a memory of my father carrying me (aged about three) down a platform on Plymouth North Road station to say hello to the driver of one of the first diesel trains there. I remember that the driver gave me a small metal enamel badge of a diesel train - probably the worst thing to give a toddler, with the benefit of hindsight!  No, I don't have it now, and no, I don't think I swallowed it then.  ::)

Moving forward many years now: when I was married and my family had moved to Nailsea (via Portishead, which is where I developed my keen interest in the re-opening of that particular branch line), I used the railway to get in to work in Bristol.  Except that it didn't, all too often.  Wessex Trains services were basic, unreliable and often unapologetic.  It was something of a relief when First took over - but in the early days, they weren't much better.

That's around the time that I joined the Coffee Shop forum. It was the last week before Christmas, and I was so frustrated that I couldn't get answers to my questions about 'how can things be going so wrong?'. I then stumbled across this online forum, while searching for such information, and found what I was looking for. I promptly signed up as a posting member, and was welcomed into the family here. Within months of my joining, I was very flattered (and indeed embarrassed) to be invited to become a moderator here. Since then, I have genuinely enjoyed my time on this forum, interacting with so many characters - mostly good, and only sometimes rather more challenging. ;)

Returning to my experience on the railways: In the financial crash of 2008, I was made redundant, so I no longer needed to commute into Bristol. However, I did subsequently do some railway-related activity with the Severnside Community Rail Partnership (Hi, Keith and Heather! ;)), liaising with teams of Community Payback offenders doing unpaid remedial work at railway stations and car parks, for example.

Moving on yet again, I am now a grocery delivery van driver partner with Waitrose. We live in interesting times.  ;D

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: eightonedee on April 22, 2020, 02:56:28 pm
This thread seems to have run out of steam a little!

I am still intrigued to know if Didcotdean is a clergyman or admirer of late 19th century GWR steam engines, and wonder how Stuving acquired his encyclopedic knowledge of everything........

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Trowres on April 22, 2020, 09:54:20 pm
My story begins close to the "Golden Mile" of the Western Valley line to Newport from - in those days - not only Ebbw Vale but also Brynmawr, Tredegar, and Brecon.

There is some insight here into the workings of the young mind, as it struggles to comprehend what it sees for the first time, devoid of background and historical context. My one surviving grandparent lived adjacent to the railway in Pontymister (between Rogerstone and Risca) at a time when this part of the railway was four-tracked. As a young child the passing of trains fascinated me. My father also took me to watch trains. Our local station was Bassaleg Junction. Western Valley passenger services ceased 1962 pre-Beeching, and yet I think that I saw a DMU at this station. Father also took me to watch trains at Newport High Street. And yet, I have absolutely no memory of steam trains in service, although they undoubtedly were. The difference between steam and diesel seemed to be lost on me as a youngster, except in terms of a story book I possessed (it was not one of the Awdry series).

Strangely, early memories of Newport High Street station are of a display of sanitary ware near the ticket barriers (by local merchant Davies Bros). Maybe a bit later in time, there was an illuminated sign in the booking hall advertising that Newport was "Home of the Mole Wrench".

Father sometimes took me with him on local (road) journeys. I have a tantalising memory of what can only be a train on Crumlin Viaduct. I definitely saw tantalising glimpses of Pontypool Road Station from the nearby road bridge, and the large array of sidings and loco shed on the other side.

And then... it felt that my memory was playing tricks on me. Surely I had seen a signal box by the underbridge at my local station? Were there not signals visible from my grandmother's house?

Gradually, one made sense of the sad scene of disappearing features; the rusting rails and voids where sleepers formerly were bedded. The low bridge in Rogerstone that once carried trains into the Alcan factory. Condemned vehicles lined up awaiting their fate. I was never to see used an interesting line that crossed the main road in the middle of Risca; it latterly served Bird's scrapyard, I believe.

The Western Valley remained busy with freight, and as the level of the line was above my grandmother's house, I was unaware of the removal of two of the tracks. A footbridge was still visible, marking the site of Tynycwm Halt, from which my mother commuted during the second world war.

Memories are of B class 37s (not that I knew them as such) growling with heavy iron ore trains to Ebbw Vale; clanking coal trains coming down the valley. A great variety of wagons of part-finished goods with mysterious names: vanfit, shochood, hybar... in those days the route was incredibly busy.

But for the first ten years of my life train travel was largely unknown; one shopping expedition to Cardiff, and an excursion to Bristol Zoo. On the latter, the expected diesel (I was told) had failed. I assume the replacement was steam, but I have no recollection. Did the train really hang about for ages at some station on the way - and how did it reach Clifton? I often wonder.

Another relative worked at Cadbury's, Bournville, with a garden ending at the Camp Hill line. No trains on the day we visited. I was disappointed, but heard an explanation (right or wrong?) that included the word "Beeching".

I was gradually making sense of the  changing railway world around me.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Incider on April 22, 2020, 11:41:56 pm
As the name suggests, I work in the rail industry and am happy to add to threads where I can reveal some incider knowledge or answer questions.  I have Engineering and operational experience.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: Adelante_CCT on April 26, 2020, 12:59:57 pm
My real name is Carwyn, born, bred and have always lived in the western areas of Reading. Currently have 3 children (definitely no more) with the youngest having severe autism and numerous other complications (mentioned elsewhere on the forum). Straight out of my college years I went to work for for a Stove Enamelling/Powder Coating plant located behind the new Reading Traincare Depot on Cardiff Road where I have been for the past 15 years.

My background into railways came from my parents both working and meeting in the (old) Paddington Telesales office off of Platform 1, both went on to work in different roles at both Swindon and Reading. As a result I grew up with free rail travel (priv pass) and have travelled the length and breadth of the country as a result. This has tailed off a lot in my adult years but still travel by train whenever I can. I do have a small amount of 'real railway' experience in that in my much younger days I used to assist with signalling operations at the Shobnall Maltings signalbox on the late William McAlpine's garden railway at Fawley Hill.

I have been apart of this forum now for 5 years, work commitments have meant I have drifted in and out of the forum over the past few months but due to much lower work levels recently hopefully I have time to integrate with the forum once again.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: 4064ReadingAbbey on April 28, 2020, 09:20:04 pm
The spare time generated by this Covid-19 thing encourages vacillation which has kept me put off applying my fingers to the keyboard - but as it pouring with rain today I have finally taken myself by the scruff of the neck…

My name is Robert and I am a war baby, born in Reading. Until I was at grammar school I only had a passing interest in railways but one or two earlier memories stand out. One was walking with my grandfather who was pushing a pram with my younger brother in it to watch the shunting engines in Reading Central Goods Depot beside the Kennet. The bang-bang-bang-bang is a sound which I can still hear in my mind’s ear.

My mother, together with one of her friends who had a son the same age, used to take us once each school holiday somewhere ‘educational’ which would appeal to three young boys. So we went to Navy Days at Portsmouth by train, to London Airport by bus (the Thames Valley Victoria 'B' service), the Tower of London and, of course, to the Science Museum in South Kensington. On one of these latter trips we were were waiting on Platform 5 at Reading when one of the two ‘Kerosine Castles’ whistled through at speed. Was that noisy! And it left the same smell behind it as the Vickers Viscounts did at London Airport when seen from the top of the Queens Building. It was obviously the future…

At the age of 14 I went on a school holiday trip to Rome, by train. We left Reading one chill morning in April for Paddington and carried our suitcases round to Victoria on the Circle. We were steam hauled on what I assume was the Golden Arrow, but in an ordinary coach, to Folkestone Marine - I remember reversing and a row of little tank engines - and crossed to Calais. I have very little memory of the ship, but the train was the Train CB (overnight Calais - Bâle, in compartments each with six boys, two lying in the luggage racks) where we had breakfast in a cavernous cafeteria at about 6 o’clock in the morning. We changed trains there, went over the Gotthard to Milan where our coach was shunted between trains. On the adjacent platform was one of the Settebello trains looking like something out of Dan Dare - even more of the future than the Kerosine Castle. We arrived in Rome Termini in the evening, some 36 hours after leaving Reading - the corridors of the youth hostel still rolled and rocked and clicketty-clacked for another couple of days. After getting home I still didn’t really appreciate railways, they were very exhausting, but the scenery I saw was spectacular and I think the travel bug infected me.

A couple of years later I did an exchange visit to Sweden for a month, by ship from Tilbury having got there by train from St. Pancras. During the time I was away my younger brother was at a loose end and was persuaded by some friends to go train spotting at Reading. As a result he was seriously bitten by the railways bug and later won an engineering scholarship from BR and read mechanical engineering after spending a year being an engineering apprentice at Swindon and afterwards at Bath Road depot. He left the railways some ten years later as the bureaucracy was getting him down, but still remains in touch with many of the people he met.

Back from Sweden he persuaded me to go with him to the station and I saw the first of the diesels, Ark Royal and the like. Somehow I must have realised that I was lucky enough to be present at a time when the world was changing for ever and also got bitten by the bug. But in my case it was more to do with finding out about the history, the technology and the social impact the railway had made. The Great Western’s locomotives, although mostly terribly run down by the time I started to appreciate them, were elegant; the sights, sounds and smells were primeval. Paddington was breath taking when I saw it with new eyes.

After that I read Physics at Battersea College of Advanced Technology (now the University of Surrey) under Professor Lewis Elton - a polymath and mind opener. One of the most inspiring people I ever met.

I never lived up to his intellectual abilities but stayed an experimental physicist, working first in Chelmsford on TV camera tubes and then on scientific vacuum equipment in Crawley. Then came the three-day week; a bit like now business was on hold with no chances of promotion or a pay increase - and this after some years of stagnation. In the early autumn of 1973 The Daily Telegraph carried an advertisement for ‘Vacuum Technology in Bavaria’ with interviews in the first instance to be held in Slough. I wrote in, received a postcard saying that my application had been received and they would contact me. A couple of months went by without hearing anything and I assumed that the whole thing had died until, sometime in November I received an invitation for an interview in Ulm. I trotted off to a travel agent and asked how I could get to Ulm, I was asked where it was and I said ‘Southern Germany’. ‘Then you want Munich’ was the reply. This was now in the run up towards Christmas, then there were only about three flights per day in each direction and they were all full. I made an international phone call (the excitement and the expense!) expecting not to understand a word but I was answered in perfect English and was told they would be quite happy to see me in the New Year. So I did, and I knew I had landed the job before I was on the plane home. Then the Doubts set in…but I started work there a couple of months later and found out that the advertisement had lied - Ulm is in Baden-Wurttemberg!

I got married in Germany, my late father in law was a country GP and I think most of Schleswig-Holstein turned up for the Polterabend! After nearly eight years in Ulm we moved to Belgium following a job offer from a technology consulting company. Five years after that we found ourselves in the Île de France as I took up a position with Apple Computer Europe in European R&D in Paris. I said to myself as I drove to Ulm in my Cortina that whatever happened I would stick it out for six months - I got back to the UK some twenty years later…

So, I have never worked for the railway, but I get great pleasure these days in swanning around in trains. I still enjoy the sights and sounds of the railway, but electric railways are a bit short in the smells department.
One of the legacies of Lewis Elton was his insistence that physicists should not be narrow-minded technicians and to this end hung artistic works in the corridors of the Physics department in Battersea and insisted that we all take ‘Liberal Studies’ for a couple of periods each week. This covered subjects such as literature, industrial relations and trades union history, geography and economics, for which one of the tutors was a lady who wrote for The Economist. Beeching’s report on the ‘Reshaping of British Railways’ was published while I was at Battersea and this was an ideal subject for discussion and debate. I think this is where my interest in the complex interplay of economics, financing, politics and social policies where they affect the railways and their business had its roots.

But I still hanker after the shrill scream of a Landore Castle dipping and rolling at speed across the Westbury Line junction at the head of the evening Up ’South Wales Pullman”…

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on April 29, 2020, 06:26:18 am
The spare time generated by this Covid-19 thing encourages vacillation which has kept me put off applying my fingers to the keyboard - but as it pouring with rain today I have finally taken myself by the scruff of the neck…

Thank you for doing so - a fascinating read.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: ellendune on April 29, 2020, 10:58:35 am
The spare time generated by this Covid-19 thing encourages vacillation which has kept me put off applying my fingers to the keyboard - but as it pouring with rain today I have finally taken myself by the scruff of the neck…

Please remember there are some of us who have no more and possibly less spare time during Covid-19.  Yes I have saved the travel time (only occasional hold ups on the way through the dining room), but some things take a bit longer. 

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: 4064ReadingAbbey on April 29, 2020, 11:14:46 am
The spare time generated by this Covid-19 thing encourages vacillation which has kept me put off applying my fingers to the keyboard - but as it pouring with rain today I have finally taken myself by the scruff of the neck…

Please remember there are some of us who have no more and possibly less spare time during Covid-19.  Yes I have saved the travel time (only occasional hold ups on the way through the dining room), but some things take a bit longer. 
Do you think I don't?

I was describing my position - I am male, over 75 and have received The Letter encouraging me to stay at home. I can't do the things I would normally do out of the house and I am discouraged from meeting people as there are two other people in my household who are even more endangered than me.

Your mileage may vary.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: ellendune on April 29, 2020, 11:29:03 am
Do you think I don't?

No criticism intended to you - just as an aside to a business meeting yesterday (by video) there was frustration that some people were assuming that all the people they interact with were in the same position as themselves, having lots of time and did not appreciate the position of those of us  who don't. 

Most frustration was a couple of weeks ago in the supermarket when a bloke was completely blocking the bread aisle while he took a phone call oblivious to the queue that was forming.  When he had finished and noticed the queue he apologised to the first person who said it was fine as she had plenty of time. And proceeded on that basis assuming everyone else did. 

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: old original on May 03, 2020, 06:46:11 pm
Well It's about time to come clean I suppose...
Real name is Dave and I started with BR  in June 1986, mainly in ticket offices with a bit of auditing thrown in. For the last 20 years (May 1999 - Oct. 2019) I was the ticket office manger / supervisor / team leader (hate that title!) at Truro.
Yep RichardB that's me, clock restorer extraordinaire.
Took early retirement with a plan to vegetate for the winter maybe with a bit of diy, then get a passport and do a bit of travelling come spring time, that was a waste of £75!.
The railways? Glad to be out of it although being on half hours for full pay sounds like I'm missing out on some easy money. Sphericals.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: adc82140 on May 03, 2020, 07:29:03 pm
OK first post here for a while, the lack of activity is explained below  :)

Real name Adam, joined here when I used to brave the daily commute from Twyford/Maidenhead into Paddington. A change of job and a house move meant a change of commute, and for a while I was a creature of the North Downs line, from Farnborough North to Guildford.

Another change of job and house move later (and now with a family as well) I am no longer a rail commuter. We are based in the New Forest, but I still follow all things GWR with interest. In fact I think I have progressed from serial whingeing commuter to rail enthusiast!

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: paulpointer on May 06, 2020, 01:40:31 pm
Yesterday I had a conversation with Grahame, today in attempting to take this up again I can find no trace of the exchange. Nor can I find any way (other than this) to send another query. Am I missing something?

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on May 06, 2020, 01:47:50 pm
Yesterday I had a conversation with Grahame, today in attempting to take this up again I can find no trace of the exchange. Nor can I find any way (other than this) to send another query. Am I missing something?

Hi, Paul ... I think the 'chat' window is off at the moment ... those of us who man it have been in a conference call.

The Personal Message system on the forum should let you get in touch with me - under "my messages" at the top tag and I'll put some details in there for you in a couple of minutes.

And welcome to the forum ... we know it's got far more facilities, nooks and crannies than it would ideally have, which makes it difficult for the newcomer.   A bit like some of the esoterics of public transport really!

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: paulpointer on May 06, 2020, 04:27:57 pm
Ok thanks Grahame, essentially I was just going to suggest 14:00 tomorrow to call you ref the shuttle bus thing. Snag is I couldn't find the message with your phone number on either! If the time is ok could you resend it please?

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: grahame on May 06, 2020, 04:38:35 pm
Ok thanks Grahame, essentially I was just going to suggest 14:00 tomorrow to call you ref the shuttle bus thing. Snag is I couldn't find the message with your phone number on either! If the time is ok could you resend it please?

The message should be under "my messages" when you're logged in - no need to resend unless you'd found and deleted it ;-) . However, as admin I can get the forum to email you to your registered forum address - I'll do that too.   14:00 AOK by me ... and as a further route-to-number, my home site at is plastered with contact details!

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: jester on May 06, 2020, 08:59:03 pm
Hi Everyone, I am located in the 'Wild west' and have been on the railway
for nearly 20 years, a 'youngster'...
Used to be onboard, Guarding but more recently station based.
I have always loved a train ride, have a lot of interest in its evolution.
My favorite thing is the variety of architecture all around the country.
I do spend spare time visiting far flung corners, especially if i can
find a good beer too!!

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: GBM on July 02, 2022, 07:14:15 am
Morning all.
Richard here.
Born in Weymouth, moved to Dartmouth by 2 years of age.
Went to Churston Grammar for two terms by train from Dartmouth (well, Kingswear, of course) daily.
Believe the down Torbay Express was our connection back, but was frequently late, so we were sardined onto the single car DMU from the Brixham branch.
My parents had moved to Falmouth before then, but Cornish Grammar schools wouldn't take a Devon pupil until I'd done two terms in Devon!

Met up with two train spotters in Falmouth Grammar, so frequently went to Truro & recorded DMU's idling, arriving and leaving.  Recordings long since lost.
Always wanted to work on the railways.
When in Dartmouth pre-teen I always had a rover ticket, and travelled the route from Exmouth to Brent (?) solo every day.
A careers advisor prior to leaving school suggested Marine Radio Officer.  Never heard of it.
Failed all/most of my O levels (also took a few GCSE's that were new then), so had a personal interview with the radio college principal at Plymouth and started there.
Was the only one present who had little interest in electronics, but loved morse code & regulations.
Finally passed & went to sea as a Radio Officer with BP Tankers.
Whilst at College, we did a day visit to a long range ship to shore radio station and a short range ship to shore station.  I fell in love with the short range station & knew that's where I wanted to be.
After the regulatory 3 years at sea I came ashore & joined the Post Office at Portishead Radio (Burnham on Sea).  Then transferred to Landsend End Radio via Northforeland Radio (Kent).
Post Office Telecoms taken over by BT, and worked 35 years there.
Satellites took over, so transferred to Goonhilly for 3 years.
Retired early & found I needed a part time job to keep finances going.
Been in the same house for 40'odd years and more than settled far far West - 10 miles from nearest rail terminus.
A few minibus jobs, then applied to Firstbus for training as a driver.
Qualified in 2010, stayed full time for 4 years, then went part time.
Now down to casual (no contract) doing 2 days a week.

Two grownup 'children', each with their own partners and one grandson, now just under a year.  We take him one day a week, plus many visits at weekends.

Still fascinated by trains, and love the forum - thank you one and all for your inputs.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: GBM on July 02, 2022, 08:09:16 am
P.S  Whilst at school, did a two week stint at Longmoor Military Railway whilst in the Army Cadets.
Sheer bliss.  Didn't have a camera in those days - what a mistake!
They even had a training working 'O' gauge model railway layout of the real circuit to route learn.

When at Landsend Radio also did several periods of detached duty at Wick Radio, always by train via London.
That said, also several periods at Lewis Radio (Outer Hebrides) but that was flying from Plymouth initially, thence Newquay.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: infoman on July 02, 2022, 08:44:49 am
Longmoor was that where Frankie Howard  filmed the great train Robbery film.

Title: Re: Member Roll call
Post by: GBM on July 02, 2022, 02:21:30 pm
Longmoor was that where Frankie Howard  filmed the great train Robbery film.

Believe it was

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