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 10/12/23 - Winter Timetable starts
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8th Dec (2013)
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Author Topic: Member Roll call  (Read 19734 times)
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2020, 08:46:35 am »

I’m a train driver, specialising in Class 800s.
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« Reply #16 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.
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« Reply #17 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 (High Speed Train)’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 (Headquarters) 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.
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« Reply #18 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.

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From station to station, back to Bristol city....

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« Reply #19 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 (Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways) 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.
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« Reply #20 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 (British Rail(ways)) 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(resolve) 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.
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« Reply #21 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 (British Rail(ways)) (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» (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen - about) 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 (Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway) 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 (Empty Coaching Stock) 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...  Grin
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« Reply #22 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......
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« Reply #23 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!

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« Reply #24 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 ((Double O) - model railway, 4mm to 1 foot scale) 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.
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« Reply #25 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 (British Rail(ways)) 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 (Signalling and Telegraph) 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 (Power Signal Box)), 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 (United Kingdom) 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!

« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 10:19:37 am by SandTEngineer » Logged
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« Reply #26 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 (Great Western Railway) 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.
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« Reply #27 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!)  Wink

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 (Signalling and Telegraph) 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 (Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway), 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 (British Rail(ways)) 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» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) 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(resolve) as ASM (Assistant Station Master)’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!  Grin
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« Reply #28 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. Cheesy

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 (Midland Railway) 'Elf Safety has put a stop to this as he, Mr 'Elf Safety didn't get to play on the 08. Grin

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.
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« Reply #29 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

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