In which I finish my work as a temporary fireman at Shoeburyness, take a trip to North Wales and prepare to return to Reading University.
Friday 1 September
On again at 13.00. I had to dispose the engine which shunted the coal bank. Again, I was allowed to move it a few feet. I enjoy doing this the best of all. I was then told to go on 80080 but, when everything was ready, the fireman turned up. After that I shovelled out some ashes and tooled up an engine and went home about 20.00. Mike Reese came round about 20.45 and we went out for a drink.
Monday 4 September
I was on duty at 02.00 but didn't do anything until 05.30 when I was sent out on 42500 (see August 31 for pictures) up to London, empty cars and then back from London. There was a great deal of waiting around and I didn't finish until 14.00. I was very tired indeed and felt pretty bad. I went staight to bed and have done very little for the rest of the day.
Tuesday 5 September
Had to sign on at 02.00 this morning again. They tried to send me out on the same turn as yesterday. I told them I wasn't going and I was sent out on a turn on 42526 via Tilbury which got me back at 11.00. Went to sleep this afternoon and have been writing this evening.
Wednesday 6 September
Was on at 03.00 this morning on the shed standby, I prepared the engine and then we had to get the engines in the right order for departure. This took some time but half way through I was told to go on the Southend Shunt. We had 42526 which must have just been relegated from main line work. When I climbed on to 42526 by the signal box there was no reading on the steam gauge. I was very tired. It was a good job that there wasn't much to do. I was off just before 12.00 and went to bed until 18.00. I have two days off now.
Thursday 7 September
Went to draw my pay this afternoon and have given in my notice. I shall just about have earned £100 by the time I leave which will be on next Friday.
Friday 8 September
Went to Norwich on a free pass with Johnny Marsh today. We went out by train to Cambridge via Liverpool Street. I haven't been on this line before. It is quite interesting, particularly just before Cambridge where there are several settlements of quite old houses. After an hour in Cambridge we went on to Norwich changing at Ely. I noticed two industrial locos in a yard outside Cambridge probably waiting to be broken up. Today was the first time I have been to Norfolk. We passd through Breckland which is a sandy area covered in pine forests. I only had 1¾ hours in Norwich. It is an interesting place with an excellent museum in the castle. I caught the 15.45 train back to Ipswich and changed at Shenfield. I did this in order to get some sleep.
Saturday 9 September
Signed on at 03.00 and was sent out at 04.10 on 80105. We went light to Southend and took a train down to Tilbury. It was very foggy and at times the visibility was down to below 100 yards. From Tilbury we went to Barking and then empty carriages to South Tottenham. This is the first time that I have fired up here. We brought a train back to Southend and had to take water at Upminster - there was no water in the tank. Listened to the wireless this afternoon and part of the evening.
Sunday 10 September
I wasn't on until 17.15 this afternoon, it has been a wonderful day and we have been in the sun most of the time. We went for a swim just before dinner. It was quite cold at first but the top layers were warmer. Have been doing some work this afternoon. It was a bit chaotic down at the depot. The yard was blocked with engines, even though the shed was empty. I was booked with Will Price on 42221 but we had several jobs to do before departing light for Benfleet. From Benfleet we took the 21.09 to Fenchurch Street and the 23.10 empty cars to Shoeburyness. The engine steamed extremely well, if anything, too well. We had to put the slacking pipe on the fire to drop it down in Fenchurch Street. I eventually got back at 01.30. I think this was the occasion when I misheard the Foreman's instructions when we returned on shed. I disposed the engine as normal only to find out I should have just thrown out the fire. I had to go back and throw out the coal I had just shovelled in. The good news was that I was paid for doing this.
Monday 11 September
I was again booked for a turn and didn't sign on until 16.05. I haven't done much this morning although I did get some work done. Went to sleep until about 15.30. We had 42528 which is a pretty good engine. We worked the 17.10 to Fenchurch Street, the 19.40 to Tilbury (I think this was the only occasion I went double headed, we were the lead engine London to Tilbury) and the 21.48 to Pitsea. From Pitsea we went empty cars to Shoeburyness. We cleaned the fire at Tilbury and also did the smokebox and ashpan so there was very little to do on getting back to the loco. I helped the driver oil another engine. He was a very good bloke, perhaps one of the best I have had. I did a little driving when we had to move a dead engine in order to oil it.
Tuesday 12 September
Didn't get up until late and have been working out a route for my trip to Wales. Have also done some work. I signed on at 19.05 and worked the 20.10 up and the 00.20 down. The up trip was quite uneventful but I had a bit of bother at Fenchurch Street. We had about 2 hours to wait and I had let the fire get rather low In fact I went to sleep sitting on my board with my feet resting on the injector water handles. We had 90 lbs pressure but only 100 lbs at 00.20. Luckily the guard wouldn't let us go until 00.30 by which time I had 200 lbs. We arrived back at 02.00 but I didn't get to bed until 03.30.
Wednesday 13 September
Took the day off. Got up at 10.00 and caught the 12.10 to London. I went across to Paddington and caught the 14.45 to Reading. I went to see Mrs. Whitehead to collect a few things including my rucsack. I didn't have much time in Reading and caught the 16.34 diesel back to Paddington. I came across on the Circle Line pretty easily and caught the 18.20 fromLiverpool Street. On the way back I met Harry Price and we had a chat for about 15minutes.
Thursday 14 September
I signed on at 15.00 for shed duty. I helped load two injectors on to a lorry and threw the fire out of a loco. After that I sat around until 20.45 and signed off.
Friday 15 September
I wasn't due on shed duties until 15.00 but I changed with Johnny Marsh. He was booked for a job but couldn't take it because of the twelve hours. It was an easy turn - just right for my last trip. We went passenger to Plaistow and prepared our engine, 42518. We then went four engines coupled together to East Ham depot. We worked the 17.26 from Barking to Southend East, ran around the train, ECS back to Southend Central and then light engine to Shoeburyness. It didn't take long to dispose the engine and then I said goodbye to all the people at the depot.
Sunday 17 September
Caught the 08.10 up to London and went over to Paddington to catch the 11.10 to Shrewsbury. The 10.40, which also leaves from platform 3 was late out but smart work by the station staff and engine crews ensured an on-time departure. The first part, to Wolverhampton, was hauled by a King 4-6-0. We waited 30 minutes for a connection at Banbury and never really regained time even thought the station stops were cut. We arrived at Shrewsbury about 30 minutes late. I strolled through the town and down to the English Bridge over the Severn which describes a wide loop, the town being built in the centre. It is a very clean town and very pleasant. The buildings are all constructed in a warm, soft, reddish stone. The hostel is quite good, right by a very high monument. I found traces of the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway. There is a filled in cutting and an embankment which is the remains of the old Potteries line.
Monday 18 September
Left the hostel at 09.00 and walked down to the Severn where I caught a bus into Shrewsbury Town Centre. I wanted to go to the castle but it was closed. There must be a good view from the battlements. Weather fine and sunny. I caught the 10.30 train which goes to Welshpool. Changed there to the stopping train to Dovey Junction. Both trains hauled by Manors in very good condition. Footplate crews were very friendly and interesting to talk to. Changed at Dovey Junction to the Pwllheli train hauled by a green standard tank (82xxx series). Arrived Portmadoc 15.23 and went down to the Harbour station. This is the first time I have been to Portmadoc. I took the Ffestiniog Railway all the way to Tan y Bwlch. It is a fantastic line, the views from the line just before Tany Bwlch are breathtaking. The locomotive was Earl of Merionedd (originally Taliesin), the double Fairlie. The driver was Bill Hoole, who was on the Great Northern line. Caught the bus to the hostel.
Tuesday 19 September
Caught the 10.00 bus to Blaenau Ffestiniog and had a look at the remains of the Ffestiniog Railway. It is a drab town, all grey. It is surrouded on all sides by bare grey walls of the slate quarries and tips. The weather didn't look too good so I caught a train to Bettws y Coed. The line goes through a long tunnel and bursts out into comletely different country which is green and very pleasant. Spent a few hours at Bettws y Coed - mainly in a field. Had some fun watching a group of tourists take a photo of themselves and their car (that was all). Came back to Blaenau Ffestiniog and walked down the railway track as far as the dam just past Tan y Grisiau. I doubt very much if the Ffestiniog Railway will now ever get through to Blaenau Ffestiniog again. (I am glad I was wrong on this count). Back to the Ffestiniog hostel tonight.
Wednesday 20 September
Walked along the old standard gauge railway track to Ffestiniog station (very interesting bi-lingual GWR notices) and caught the bus to Tan y Bwlch and walked up in heavy rain to the station. Caught the 11.45 train to Portmadoc and then, on my free ticket, came to Afonwen. I had 20 minutes by the sea. It is very pleasant indeed. The sun had just broken through and visibility was moderate. The air was very pure and clear - as well I didn't see any other holidaymakers. Came back to Portmadoc and walked across the Cob to Boston Lodge and back. I went up on the 16.30 train again, this time first class in the observation car (my membership card gets me third class travel). The views from the observation car are even better than from the normal train. From Tany Bwlch I walked up the track, through the short tunnel and then cut across country, down a very steep hillside back to the hostel.
Thursday 21 September
Left the hostel at 07.45 in order to catch the bus to Penrhyndeudraeth. I then went down the street to the station to catch the up Cambrian Coast Express to Towyn. The Wharf station is not far from the BR station and I had plenty of time to look at the narrow gauge Muesum. The two most interesting exhibits are the ex-Welsh Highland Railway "Russell" and the metre gauge (?) "Cambrai". The Talyllyn Railway is most disappointing, especially after the Ffestiniog. The station at Abergynolwyn is an anticlimax - what a difference from Tan y Bwlch. I had a good meal at Towyn (I hadn't had any breakfast) and caught the train to Machynlleth to have a look around. From there I went back, still using my free ticket, to Borth. The hostel is quite a good one, the meals are especially good.
Friday 22 September
Had to come home today, at least back to Shoeburyness for Pat's party tomorrow. I went the whole way on the Cambrian Coast Express hauled by a Manor as far as Shrewsbury, a Castle to Wolverhampton and from there a King. We kept time to Shrewsbury but lost about 15 minutes by Leamington. This was aggravated by prolonged station stops. We eventually reached Paddington about 10 minutes late. I caught the 17.04 down from Fenchurch Street and arrived back at St. Andrews Road at about 18.45.
Saturday 23 September
Went down to the depot with Johnny this morning to take some photographs and also to say good bye. They were five firemen short this morning but, of coure, I couldn't help out even though I wanted to. I offered to work for nothing!