By George Hopkins
Book on time 03.45, work 22 duty, 04.45 from Waterloo to Salisbury arriving at 08.44 and return with the ex 07.30 from Exeter, 09.33 off Salisbury due in Waterloo at 11.08.
My driver was Ron Brown in No.3 link, he had a very broad Wiltshire accent and had come up to 70A on promotion, he lived at Grately and for very early turns he would drive up in his Austin A30 car to start work, he eventually managed to move into the station house at Oxshott.
22 duty was nearly always a Schools class loco, we'd get on along with half the lobby, ( it got used as a taxi service to Waterloo ) we were booked off shed at 04.05. The tender was full of coal from front to back as the loco would work through to Templecombe and back to Waterloo (at 10.08 pm) with no coal being put in the tender. This was usually my turn to drive, so along with one or two others on the footplate we'd head off for the first stop at Wimbledon, then Surbiton, after that it was all stations to Salisbury arriving at 08. 44, 83 miles in 4 hours ...
On arrival at Salisbury we'd go over to the room on the up platform, have our grub and some tea, I sometimes went and done some shopping, mainly Lardy cakes from a bakery come post office and some faggots for mum.
Our train would run in, the Exeter crew would take water, I'd get busy shovelling coal forward and at 09.33 we'd set off with a Merchant Navy and 12 on, the first and only stop being Andover. The first thing I'd do was to take off my jacket, (Ron used to laugh at that) I'd then start filling the firebox up, stopped firing going through the tunnel, then once out, start shovelling again, ( talk about A**e up, head down ) what came down in the hole went in, and by the time we were passing Red Post I'd put the shovel down, washed down the foot plate, a bucket of warm water to wash up with and with the door on the second notch we'd leave Andover at 10.00, arrival time at Waterloo 11.08 66 miles in 68 minutes ...
By the time we were passing Worting we were well into the 80s, I'd give Ron the tip for the distant for Basingstoke, ok mate, with that the regulator went in the roof, pulled the reverser up to 10% and that's where it stayed, great long whistles through Basing, and between Winchfield and Fleet the clock was on the Ton mark.
Our next distant to look out for was Woking, it's the first colour light you come too and it's obscured by a foot bridge, so there we are both trying to see it first, invariably it was off, good job too really, I don't think we could have stopped going at that speed. Hang on the whistle through Woking, that made the public stand back, and keeping up a good speed to New Malden where it's down to 60 mph, we had greens all the way into Waterloo arriving just as the ACE was leaving, not bad eh! 66 miles in 61 minutes. The fire was down to 4 inches or so, the chimney was a very light blue, what more could a driver ask for and the crew taking over to go back to 70A and dispose.
That's it for another day, do the same again tomorrow, time to go and sign off, then home, distribute the Lardy cakes and hand over the faggots to mum, bath and then bed.
Going back to the Schools on 22 turn, it was the first loco to be disposed of by a P&D crew who booked on at around 10.15 pm, the loco used to be left to the fireman to look after while the driver went ad relived a foreign crew for PN. It's no exaggeration when I say that you'd be at least 2 hours disposing of this loco, the smokebox ash would be up to the bar, the clinker level with the firehole door and the Running Foreman used to say "save the fire" - *** cheek, what fire? But it got done and would be lit up, ready to do it all over again, all stations there and back.
George Hopkins © 2010
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