ROBIN BELL NINE ELMS MEMORIES - 26th January 1962Just an ordinary day "or was it"!
Signed on at 2 05am for 3/381 duties with Driver G. Bowen. Light engine to Waterloo, then down with the second paper train to Bournemouth and returning with the 'Wessex', arriving back at Waterloo at 10.56, a long job, but with 5 hours mileage payment.
The down trip was un-eventful, PN at Bournemouth Central was taken in the Guards room, after which we walked over to the up platform to relieve and work the up 'Royal Wessex' The first part of the train from Bournemouth West arrived, formed of 7 coaches including the Restaurant car, Mark 1 rolling stock, this was promptly shunted (including seated passengers) to a siding alongside the Engine shed to await the arrival of the front portion of the train from Weymouth and Swanage. Six coaches in all, four from Weymouth and two through coaches from Swanage that were attached at Wareham. The front portion duly arrived with Nine Elms MN No. .35017 'Belgian Marine' at it's head. With the rear portion being shunted on to the back of the train there was time to take water and shovel forward some coal, with the complete train of 13 coaches weighing in at 433 tons tare, about 500 tons loaded on the hook.
The platform starter 'cleared', and with the brake test completed, as per regulation taking away or adding vehicles to a train, the Guard gives "Right away". George Bowen, a man of few words, only comment as we went the road bridge was, "we've got a (censored) old bastard this morning". The journey onward to Southampton, where we took on more water, then Winchester seemed to me normal.
Leaving Winchester City, was more than a lively start it has to be said, my attention was drawn to the Signalman, who had put a finger in each of his ears. I looked across at George and observed that the regulator was in the roof, and he was setting the cut off at 45% I thought to myself I had better try and keep up with this, and so we went on our merry way. The engine was steaming freely, which just as well really as I had to put on the second injector as we were passing Winchester Junction. Head down arse up, shovelling continuously, as the lumps came out of the tender they went into the firebox irrespective of size (the bigger the better) I had no time to break them up.
As we went into Wallers Ash tunnel George pulled her up to 35%, my first reaction was to turn off the second injector and keep shovelling. What a firework display, with sparks hitting the tunnel roof bouncing down hitting the track and bouncing up again. We continued on our way passing Micheldever at 65 mph and as we entered Popham tunnels the cut off was reduced again to 25% so the rate of shovelling eased, the regulator was shut at Roundwood to coast to Worting Junction, what a relief! As was usual I then assisted George with signal sighting, first Worting Junction's Home signal crossing from the Up Southampton to Main (lower right signal) which was 'clear', which I indicated to George, he grunted an acknowledgement as was his want. Now the speed through the crossover was 65 mph, however on this occasion 70 mph plus more the likes!
No time to relax Wortings starter had the Distant for Winklebury Intermediate to be observed, both 'off', then on the actual Intermediate was Basingstoke's Distant to look for, both 'off', with regulator opened we passed through Basingstoke at 85mph, with the usual 'crash bang wallop' over the east-end crossover we were away to London. All over you would think, just 48 miles to London, but George hadn't reckoned with the Signalman at Surbiton. We were checked on the approach to allow the late running up Pompey stopper to precede us.
What to do, as by this time having been up all night I was close to being knackered. So I got the pricker down to level the fire and assess whether I should put some more on. Whilst doing this with the pricker I hit something hard half way down the firebox on both sides I was puzzled. As you may be aware No. 35017 had no thermic siphons so it had a huge all over brick arch, so just what had happened ? In fact George had burnt away two rows of the large arch and all that was left were the end blocks on either side of the fire-grate.
After all that we arrived in Waterloo at 11.00 am 4 minutes late, just another ordinary day.
Copyright 2007 Robin Bell
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