The witch is dead but the spell remains

Anon. graffiti artist 2013





The Stewarts Lane retired drivers were kind enough to invite Alan Taylor and myself from the RMS committee to one of their recent meetings. A fellow guest was ex-Shed Master Dick Hardy, a man who, by common consent, was ‘one of the few managers who understood railway men’. He continues to be held in high regard by those who had the pleasure of working at a depot where he was ‘the gaffer’, never asking anyone to do something he couldn’t do himself. Dick has recently released a book called ‘A Life on the Lines’ which charts his career from starting till his retirement and beyond. It’s well worth a read.

The Battersea Boys meet regularly at the Selhurst Railway Club.

Peter Smith

Reporter, Retired Members Section



MARCH 2013

People made my job a job

After 31 years - the first 22 in the footplate line of promotion - I am redundant from the railway industry. All good things come to an end at some point and i am content with the outcome. 

I’d like to thank Iain Anderson (a T.S.S.A. rep, as my last role was clerical), Godric Jolliffe of Thompsons, District Organiser Graham Morris and especially A.S.L.E.F.’s Kevin Eade for the support they gave to me throughout the process. 

Thanks too to everyone I have worked with during my career. It’s always the people - not the content - that makes coming to work more than just something that has to be done.

Neal Cowdrey,

Retired ex-Driver


Brighton DriverSteve Toughey in receipt

 of his 25 year ASLEF badge, March 2013


APRIL 2013

Battersea marks 125 years

On the 12 February the Battersea branch celebrated its 125th birthday. Several former members of the branch were in attendance, along with the general Secretary, national organiser and other union officers.

Mick Whelan made a presentation to the branch to mark its reaching this milestone before awarding a medallion to retired member Roger (‘dodgy’) Owen in recognition of 50 years as a member of ASLEF. Roger served as a Local Staff Representative for many years.

After the formal business past and present branch members and our guests ensured the occasion was celebrated in the traditional ASLEF manner.

I would like to thank Malcolm Hough for his work researching the history of the branch, and for his effort in making the evening possible - and enjoyable.

Graham Hoy

Secretary, Battersea Branch



APRIL 2013

Backing for any way of exposing franchising

I read with interest the General Secretary’s report in last month's Journal into the West Coast franchise debacle. I remember attending the AAD some years ago when National Organiser Simon Weller told conference that ASLEF had plans to bid for one of these franchises. As he said, this wouldn't have cost ASLEF any significant amount of money - and could have helped to prove that this indeed is a flawed process. 

The floor didn’t agree, but I welcomed the fact that the union wanted to highlight the shenanigans that most people inside the railway industry who care about its future believe goes on when awarding franchises. I hope the government start asking serious questions - and hold winning bidders (and part-time guardians of this great industry) accountable for what they leave behind. Bidders should be asked.

What are they doing to improve services for the benefit of all passengers at a cost that everybody can afford?

What is their strategy on job creation (for all grades) inside the industry?

It shouldn't be about the cheapest bid, because the cheapest bid comes with its own costs – the loss of jobs across the rail industry – a serious issue that the whole UK now faces. So well done Sir Richard Branson for challenging what was clearly a complete shambles. If it weren’t for him this unsatisfactory process would still be taking place – and we'd all be guilty of not being bold enough to ask the ‘Big Questions’.

I think any money ASLEF spends on challenging things that affects train drivers, railway staff and the greater good of the UK is money well spent.

In finishing I would like to add for the record that my wife has never taken any speeding points for myself - and I've no intention of ever asking her to do so!

Jeff Turner




APRIL 2013


Brother Tony Farmer was presented with his 35-year badge by executive committee 

member Marz Colombini at the Brighton branch’s ordinary meeting on 21 February, 

reports branch secretary Mark Johnson


APRIL 2013

My fatality advice was ‘don’t worry, son’!

In 1964 I was a 15 year old signal box boy at Cheam in Surrey, when on a dank foggy October night someone stepped in front of a train between Ewell East and Epsom.

While others dealt with the passenger and train crew, I was told to walk back to where it happened to check the line. In heavy fog I walked along the track swinging my torch when suddenly in the circle of light I saw a hand severed at the wrist. A few feet away a head lay staring at me. you can imagine the shock for a boy only three months out of school.

The support I was offered was the Station master putting an arm around me and saying, ‘don’t worry son. you’ll see lots of this.’ I had to be back at work the next day.

Fifty years on, I still see those images as clearly as if it were yesterday.

In my driving career I had three fatalities and in each case the support I received from management was faultless. Everything I needed, I got. Everything I wanted, I received.

Alas now I fear for the younger drivers, as in our cheque-book driven world a driver who cannot drive for whatever reason is a drain on resources which management will seek to eliminate at the earliest opportunity. So yes, fight for cIcA - but even more important fight to ensure that railway staff who suffer trauma of any kind continue to get the full amount of support we need without any pressure from above.

Steve Le Tissier

Retired Driver/Trainer, West Sussex

APRIL 2013

April 2013 branch meeting

Paul Evans receiving his 20 year badge from Steve Chatfield 



APRIL 2013


Glenis Willmott’s article about the EU (February Journal) was interesting - although not entirely accurate. Sadly she's brought out the same old trade argument which simply does not stand up. The UK currently has around 40%of its trade with the EU, therefore we have around 60% of our trade with non-EU countries who are generally enjoying faster growth of trade,output, employment and living standards than EU members where with one or two exceptions, growth is minimal or negative. Before you dispute my figures perhaps Glenis Willmott would like to comment on the ‘Rotterdam effect’, whereby UK exports sent to non-EU countries via continental ports are erroneously counted as exports to the EU. She might also like to comment on why the EU has been unable to convince its own auditors to sign off its accounts for any of the last 18 years! If the EU were a business, its directors would be in jail.

If the UK left the EU we could continue to be a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), and trade with our European neighbours would continue in much the same way as it does now, largely because it would be in everyone’s interest to do so, given that we buy a lot more from the EU than they buy from us. Furthermore if we left the EU, the UK could regain its seat on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its ability to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with non-EU countries.

I could argue for a long time over the figures, but of greater concern to me is the EU’s total disregard for democracy. For example we now have Herman Van Rompuy as president of 500 million EU citizens but not one of us had an opportunity to vote for him. He was simply appointed. We also have the very sinister European Arrest Warrant, under which any of us could be arrested, and held in custody without charge, for an indefinite period in any EU country. 

Now we find that despite massive regulation, we have been consuming horse meat masquerading as beef in this country for some time. This is surely a classic example of how the EU has failed its citizens. I agree with Glenis that the on-going uncertainty over a referendum is harmful - so the sooner it happens the better. If the EU is such a brilliant idea why are the ruling political elites of all parties so frightened of a referendum? Remember no-one under the age of 56 has ever had the opportunity to vote on the issue, and those over 56 only voted on joining a trading block, not a European Federation. 

How about devoting a full page in the Journal to the pro-independence view, just to balance things up?

Ken Hall, 


MAY 2013


21st MARCH 2013

Sister Zoi Kakouris received her 20 year badge last month from the chairman of her Brighton Branch, Brother Steve Chatfield, 
reports Mark Johnson (Brighton Branch)




MAY 2013

What does UKIP really mean?

I was disappointed to read the general Secretary's article in April's Journal. he stated he didn't want to be over-dramatic when describing Germany's political position in the 1930s. Yes, the german citizens did lose faith in the political process - but this was caused by high levels of unemployment, economic depression and the fact that families were starving and on the streets. this doesn't sound too dissimilar to what's happening in parts of europe now. 

Could this be down to Mr barroso and his friend, with their ‘euro-vision’ which is ausing so much pain in europe, particularly with the young?

If the GS is looking for historical links between hitler and our political parties – well, Hitler was a politician who was thrown into prison for a criminal act. Sadly this is all too familiar today. 

I’m certainly losing faith with politics when MPs show nothing but contempt for us and the law, like the ex-eastleigh Member of Parliament. 

But i disagree with the gS’s analogy of what UKIP ‘really’ means. UKIP took a decision to vote against the resolution on asbestos, which was their democratic right. if we are to believe these people are dangerous, what does that make a labour government that entered into an illegal war with iraq in 2003 and the same labour government that commissioned the Mcnulty report?

Dangers come in all colours and until this labour Party returns to its true core values, voters will continue to look elsewhere for answers.

Jeff Turner

Driver, Barnham


JUNE 2013



It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my former colleague at London Bridge, Chris Farmer. Although I left yer railway industry in 2002, I remained in regular contact with Chris in the last few via social media.

Chris came to London Bridge in the early 1990s and was immensely popular at the depot, fitting in well with the all the other ‘Essex Men’ at the ‘Bridge’. Chris was a loyal member of A.S.L.E.& F. and always supported the trade union and the local reps.

R.I.P. Chris

Nigel Blennerhassett

Former Branch Secretary

London Bridge


JUNE 2013

Up the Junction with the stars

Vic Raskin, a railwayman for fifty years, and a stalwart of our 

Battersea branch, tells 

Keith Richmond of his brushes with the glitz and glamour of the 

British film industry...

It’s not every day you go into work and, instead of taking commuters into the capital, or moving freight around the country, find yourself working with a big star on a big film. But that’s what happened to Vic Raskin when, in June 1967, he found himself driving a train into Clapham Junction – again and again – until, at last, director Peter Collinson shouted ‘cut!’ 

Up the Junction, starring Dennis Waterman, Suzy Kendall, Adrienne Posta, Maureen Lipman, Liz Fraser and Susan George, was one of the most popular films of the year when it was released in 1968. it was based on a book by Nell Dunn, published in 1963, which had already been turned by Ken Loach into an acclaimed Wednesday Play for the BBC, and was a gritty, realistic, ‘kitchen sink’ depiction of working-class life in the area of Battersea, south London, around Clapham Junction.

Vic, a member for many years of Battersea branch, recalls how he had just run three cars into clapham Junction when ‘a rather lovely boy, green velvet suit, pink shirt and yellow tie, asked me to come in again and went and chalk marked the platform where they wanted me to stop.’the panoply of a film crew at work, even for a couple of minutes’ screen time for Polly, ‘a posh middle-class blonde from Chelsea slumming it in Battersea,’ played by suzy Kendall, to look out of the carriage window and alight from the train, was a wonder for vic to behold.

‘there were dozens of people hanging around, including all these extras on £4 a day when i was getting £7 a week as a driver, and they waved to me from the side, and said “do it again” and again.

‘And then, as i got ready to take the train down the sidings while everyone had a break, Suzy Kendall came up and said, “can i have a ride in your cab?” so i took her down the sidings, changed ends, and got out my cheese and onion sandwiches – she had half my sandwiches and half my coffee – and then she asked me, “how do you drive these things?” And i had her driving up and down the sidings while we were on our break.’ Then it was back to work and take after take. ‘Eight times till we got it right,’ says vic, adding ruefully, ‘i saw the film, but they cut me out.’

That wasn’t his only brush with the magic of the silver screen. When Richard Attenborough made a film of the musical oh! What a Lovely War, vic was in it. ‘they got an old steam engine, the boiler had had it, parked it in Brighton, and i sat on it as a driver from those days, dancing up and down, with a smoke bomb inside the fire box, so smoke was pouring out the chimney.

‘Then, later, i was near the catering vans on the concourse, walking past Richard Attenborough’s Rolls Royce, when he stuck his head out the window and said, “driver, come in here,” so i got in with Richard Attenborough, and he opens this hamper, cold roast chicken and god knows what, champagne, although i wasn’t allowed to drink it, and he was telling me all about his model railway set. he had, he said, six attic rooms, at the top of his house, as somewhere to run his model railways. Another world...’

Vic’s a cockney; he was born at bow, in East London, within the sound of the bells of St Mary-Le- Bow, in 1931. he was, like a lot of children, evacuated from the capital to the country at the start of the second World War. he and the girl next door found themselves living, with a retired miner and his wife, in a cottage in mid-Wales with no gas, no electricity and no running water; the toilet was a bucket in the shed.

‘We lasted three months. We slept on an old brass bedstead in the attic under potato sacks sewn together for blankets. she was a shirley temple type, blonde, her ringlets got pulled at the local school, and I got beaten up for looking out for her. the headmaster didn’t like Londoners, we were utterly miserable, so a couple of days before christmas, when the old boy went to sleep, i said, “We’re going home”. We packed our suitcases – we didn’t have much – crept down the ladder from the attic, climbed out onto the sloping roof, shut the window, slid down the roof and walked to the station where we got a train to cardiff, with no money, and no ticket.

‘There, a woman with four kids talking cockney went through the barrier, we followed, and she found she’d got two extra kids. “What are you doing?” she asked as we got on the Paddington train. “running away.” And she said “that’s why i’ve come down to get my kids, they don’t like it.” We didn’t get into London until 4 a.m. Sunday morning and my mother and father got a big surprise when i clambered into the Anderson shelter later that day.’

he was back in London for the worst of the blitz by German bombers as the Luftwaffe tried to destroy the docks. ‘the germans always came over Sunday lunchtime. one day, the sirens went off, father grabbed the Sunday paper, half a bottle of whisky, his pipe and baccy, and shot off to the Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden. mother poured the soup back off the plates into the pot and got to the door of the basement kitchen. i heard this bomb coming, because they whistled, and said i would wait here while it went by, but it went through our roof – 800lb of high explosive – and into the basement behind me and blew up. the house lifted up and i could see all around. then it started to come down, i got under the stone sink and, as luck would have it, the rafters hit the boiler and stone sink and stayed off me. Everything went blank but, 15 hours later, they dug me out. the house had gone, and so had each house on either side. the civil defence guy who pulled me out said, “you are one lucky 10 year old.” but all my dad said was, “Where’s the bloody soup?”’

Vic hadn’t managed much schooling – ‘the Daily Mirror taught me to read and write’ – and when his mother said it was time he got a job he joined the railway, at Stewarts Lane, as a cleaner. ‘i was 5ft so they put me down the pit underneath the engines and i came out covered in oil. but once steam got into my blood I wanted to drive the bloody things! I was a cleaner, then pass fireman, and in 1957 made driver. I ended up doing 49 years and five months on the railways. With diesel everything is closed in; with steam, you’ve got steam in one ear, fire burning your overalls, and it’s an achievement to get from one end of the line to the other. An engine wouldn’t do well if the driver and fireman didn’t do well. it was a living thing.’ he was a union man all his life, too. ‘Tom Stuckey at Stewarts Lane had the biggest nose you’ve ever seen, like Pinocchio, and as i was booking on, he said. “’ere you, you ain’t joined the ASLEF, here’s a form, fill it in”. he became a rep and is still, living in retirement by the sea in Devon, as proud of what he achieved for his colleagues as he is of being a driver in the age of steam.

‘it’s been good life,’he smiles. ‘And I was never stuck up the junction...’



JUNE 2013


Brighton Branch chairman Steve Chatfield presented Brother Paul Evans with his 

20-year badge at the branch’s April meeting



JULY 2013 

 Marz Colombini (centre) presents long service awards to (from left) Stuart Boaks (20 years), Andy Coombe (10), Richard Copeland (5), and David Baker (15)

Marz Colombini, our E.C member, attended our April branch meeting and as well as providing us with lots of very interesting information was kind enough to award members service badges. 

The four drivers in the photograph have a total of half a century’s service. This is the number of years Biff Manvell put in on his own, and we regret we don’t have a picture of him but all our cameras had an off day! No offence, Biff!

Pete Scott,


Horsham Branch



JULY 2013

The third Sussex Motive Power Depots reunion was held at the railway club, Brighton, on 7 
May. I would like to thank all those who attended for making this an enjoyable event. We are encouraged by the growing numbers of attendees, of members both retired and active, and a good number who returned having moved away from the area. 

We were delighted to welcome the General Secretary, Mick Whelan, who presented a 50 year medallion to Bro. John Mould of Eastbourne branch. 

Encouraged by the continued success, we have confirmed the date for the 2014 reunion as 
Tuesday 6 May. Put it in your diary!

Steve Chatfield

Branch Chair





I remember Maggie, too…

…and the Falklands War

I have no admiration for Margaret Thatcher and respectfully suggest to Reginald Sargeant (Letters, July Journal) that before he sings her praises he carries out a little research into her administration. The Falklands War came about due to the policies of the British government. Thatcher was in danger of being ousted as Prime Minister and the Argentine junta invading a virtually undefended island gave her the chance to restore her popularity.

That many people would lose their lives fighting this war had no bearing on her decision. Her only concern was retaining political power, conveniently forgetting that her administration had caused the crisis in the first place.

If Reginald Sergeant took the trouble to read My Falkland Days by Sir Rex Hunt he might agree this was not a justifiable war, as he suggests, but megalomania.

Ray Young

ex-Salop/Three Bridges

Railway accidents on 


Whyteleaf 18th September 2013 






Arthur godden died on 31 July at the age of 83. Arthur started his railway career at horsham, followed by Victoria. He did his national service from 1947 to 1949. He loved musicals, and all types of music, especially Frank Sinatra, and made many visits to the Albert hall for concerts. Our thoughts are with his long time friend Peggy at this very sad time.

Ken Heydon

Battersea Branch






Three Bridges held its branch centenary celebration on Sunday 20 October. An enjoyable afternoon was had with a mixture of old and new members attending. Tony Hind welcomed Mick Whelan who presented eight 50 year medallions to Ken Chapman, Ted Dente, Aiden Lawless, Cliff Pattenden, Ray Young, Brian Boorer, Gordon Everest & Don Pew; a special recognition was presented to Ernie White as the most senior ex-Three Bridges driver. Tony West addressed the celebration with a poignant message. Here’s to another 100 years…

Paul Eden 

Branch Secretary


Back Row L-R Marz Colombini (EC), Mick Whelan GS, Graham Morris DO, Simon Weller
 & Tony West
Front Row Brian Boorer, Ken Chapman, Ted Dente, Ernie White, Gordon Everett, Ray Young & Cliff Patterend






Simon Weller and two members from Southern company Council attended Eastbourne’s branch meeting. Simon gave a talk on the railway pension scheme and what changes in the pension laws mean for our scheme, took questions from the floor, and made service badge presentation to members from 5 to 25 years.

Mark Jenkins

Branch Secretary,





To commemorate the new Horsham Crew Room Pete Scott and his daughter Jenny Scott (Conductor at Horsham) recreated a Horsham Depot Picture which is based it on an old picture of Horsham Loco Depot, by a cutting and pasting the current Train Crew staff heads onto the bodies of existing photo. The result is a picture below, with a large version will be in the Train Crew room. The picture contains the face of every driver Horsham (bar one who is moving to Caterham..), every Horsham Conductor, a number of the platform staff, and three local managers.

 Pete Scott Collection

Horsham Depot Picture 2013


Front Row Left to Right - Pete Scott (D), Grahame Harris (P), Chris Brook (D), Ian Cox (D), Kevin Shepherd (D),Darren Welsh (D),David Baker (D), Stuart Boaks (D), Denise Bloom (D), Richard Black (D), Graham Richardson (C), Tim Milward (LM), Kevin Bass (D),Brian Templeton (D), Steve Webb (D), Maria Hulbard (DOM), Andy Card (C)

Second Row Row Left to Right - John Aitkin (C), Andy Philbrick (D), Valentine Ogwu (C), Lee Laker (C), Mark Allin (D), Simon Horton (C), Martin Green (D), Johnny Jones (D), Sonia Milner (C), Will Lock (D), Dan Penfold (D),  Dave Bellinger (D),Alan Colwill (D), Clayton Turner (D), Andy Morgan (C), Paul Coxall (D), Andy McConnon (D), Ian Foran (D), Keith Pountney (C),R O’Sullivan (D), Omar Ali (C), Kevin Alderton (P)


Third Row Left to Right - Mick Hall (C), John Chew (C), Cliff Brooker (D), Basil Byers (P), Andy Clark (P), Jim Churcher (D), Sangeet Karthikeyan (C), Tony Bush (D), Neil Collier (D), Andy Coombe (D), Sean Healy (D), Rob Thorne, Rob Bird (D), Bo Toia (D),Fernando Engelbrect (C), Dave Roberts (D), Jenny Scott (C), Andy Hine (C), Andy Gant (D), Joe Wood (C), Sandy Cassidy (C), Simon Morse (C),  Harry Dall (C), Martin Richardson (D), Andy Robson (D), David Retter (D), Ken Hall (D), Adrian Walsh (C)


Back Row Left to Right - Marcus Humprey (D), Kevin Nye (LM), Pete Ambiguo (D), Stewart Allen (D), Danny Bright (P),Terry Herbert (D), Russell Little (C), Bob Robinson (D), Geoff Denman (P), Mush Marad (C),    Darren Lee (C), Pete Cheeseman (D), Mike Ryan (D), Kevin Attwell (P), Richard Copeland (D), Dave Haines (C)


Cab Left to Right - Mark Judd (D), Andy Melillo (C), Francis Taylor (C), Chris Bassett (D)

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