Brighton Driver George Washington and Fred Rich

Originally published in
Steam World Magazine September 2009

Fred Rich, having begun his engineering apprenticeship on the Southern Region under O.V. Bullied, Fred Rich suffers its deprivation while on National Service. Eventually ‘Jubilation day’ arrives and he returns to Civvy Street, and the railway 

Leaves from a locomotive diary

It was in February 1948, seven weeks after Britain's railways were nationalised, that I began my engineering apprenticeship on the Southern Region under O.V. Bulleidstarted at Ashford locomotive worksmovintBrighton after thfirst 10.5 months.

Aside from this formal apprenticeship, I was also deeply involved with steam locomotives during weekends, holidays and other off- duty periods. Those unofficial - and sometimes illicit - activities provided a wealth of knowledge and experience that wasn't included in an apprenticeship.

An account of those five eventful years would take up a full-length book. For the time beinimust suffice that, durinmapprenticeshiphelped in thconstruction of Bulleid''Leader'the final batcosmall Packets('West Country' class 'Pacifies'), th41 Brighton built Fairburn 4P tanks anthinitia30-odd BR4 'Standard2-6-4 tanks.

In those days all medically-fit younmen became liablfor twyearof military service on reachinthage o18Howeveranyonwhwas serving an apprenticeshipostudyinfosomother qualificationcoulapplfor deferment untihitraining was completed. At the end of my own   apprenticeshipin 1953, I still had four months ocollege work to complete and so mdeferment was further extendedDuring thosextrfour monthsserved in the locomotive drawing officat Brightonworking out final details for thBR9 2-10-and doing somdesigstudies on thembryo Crosti Class 9.

Thenin Jul1953I was 'calleupand cannot deny that thnext two years were terribldrag. Mromance with thpeacetime Royal Air Force was very short-livedAfter alliwas peacetime and I wakickinmheels on distinctlinactive service. Apart from being aawfuwaste otimeit deprived motwo vintage years ouoaall-too-short stealocomotivcareer. My main accomplishment was learninhoto 'skive(a verb twhicI was introduceby onof my fellow conscripts. It meanto dodge ankind owork oeverpossibloccasion). acknowledgnow that it was the wronattitude to takeshould have treated those two years as a second apprenticeship, but it’s too late now. Instead, like a host of other, I became an accomplished skiver, although it didn’t make the weeks pass by any faster.

After what seemed an eternity, those two long years slowly drew to an end. Jubilation Day was approaching at last anwould soon be back in thdrawing office at Brighton. Howeverthings woulnever be thsame as they werbefore becausrecent developmenthascuppered the old way of life. On TuesdaJanuar21955th newspaperhad trumpete£1.2b15-year plan to modernise British Railways.

The scenario was one of nationwide dieselisation and electrification; and all steam locomotive construction was to cease ‘within a very few years.’ In announcing this plan General Sir Brian Robertson, Chairman of the British Transport Commission, contrived to wax lyrical; “For some of us [the end of steam] must spell some regret. Somehow, both the diesel and the electric locomotives lack the glamour which surrounds the mighty steam engine, pounding through the night with the light of its fire glowing in the faces of the crew. 

There is something here of real importance...” It was pure rhetoric of course and someone had written his speech for him; but I couldn’t expressed it much better myself.

What this meant was that, when I resumed my career at Brighton, I would be facing a new regime under which the steam locomotive was doomed. For a couple of years to come, iwapossibltbelieve that there might be a U-turn in high placesIany casethingweren't going to changeovernighand steam locomotive design worwould continue at Brighton foas long aremainethere (whicwas onlfor onmore year).

MeanwhilI resolved that, beforreturning to civilian employmentwoulaward myself a celebration holiday. There was no sucthing as demob leavfor conscripts - we didn't have a tradunio-so iwas gointo ban unpaivacation. 

I have always kepa diaryMy steam locomotive chronicles fill 11 thick foolscap ledgers morthan a million words anI wrote them up at the time these adventures took place. In addition I compiled notebooks, made drawing and sketches, took photographs... I still posses all those treasures, and the memories that go with them. However, after more than 50 years, my old requires clarification for the benefit of present day readers, which is included in square brackets. For instance, I need to introduce people whom I had already known for several years. Wherever possible I have blended my explanations into the original text, hoping thereby to make them less conspicuous. And so, without further preamble, here is just one episode from my very own 'glorious years.’ It begins while I still had a week to serve in the RAF.

ThursdaJune 30th 1955

At this time I was living on the outskirts of Tonbridge in Kent, seven mils from old home town of Tunbridge Wells; and I was stationed at RAF West Raynham in Norfolk.

With week to go before ‘demob’ I was coming home for along weekend. This morning’s post failed to bring the Privilege Tickets orders that I requested from Brighton; so I had to buy a ‘cheap’ Forces single for the journey from Eat Rudham to King’s Cross (via Peterborough). The latter cost two and a half times as much: 14s 7d compared with 5s 10~for a Privilege ticket

Arriving homin the earleveningfelt almost free from thfetterof conscription. I return to camp on Mondanight, sign off on Tuesdaandwitanluck, arrive home as a civilian one day earlon Wednesday. SEVEDAYS TO GO!

FridaJuly 1st 1955

Thimornincycled to TunbridgWells West. [A hilly seven-miles in eacdirectionIn thosdayit was 'pushbikes' to thfore and onseldowent anywhere without a pair of trouseclipin one's pocket]Havinarrived at TWW I found a roofless runningshed [75F] in ththroes of reconstructionThis job has beeprogressing for something like 18 monthbut onlrecentlhas throof been taken off.

In the eveningmade a second cycle tritoTWW-a wet one this time in a finedrenchindrizzle. On arrivalwent into the roofless depot mfirst visit since thintensivnew summer service was introduced on 1JuneMany additional trains arnow runninand, on looking at the enginemens' roster list, found iquite bewildering! 75Fsrecently short oworknow has a glut of italmost all thpassefiremeare out on driving joband mgood friend Fred Diplock has beeelevated to the seconlink. Thlist also told mthat tomorrow nighFrewill bworking home on the 7.34pm from Brightonand decided to join him for thtrip.

SaturdaJuly 2nd 1955

Leaving home at 4.30pm, I travelled down to Brighton where I soon met Fred Diplock and his fireman, Don Austen. They had just arrived from Three Bridges 'on the cushions'. Our train, the 7.34pm Brighton to Tunbridge Wells West, was standing in Platform 8 but without an engine; and we waited for it to be brought over from the running-shed. By 7.30pm, it had failed to appear and, in due course, we learned that our rostered Fairburn 4P 2-6-4T had failed with collapsed firebars (earlier in the day it had worked to Willesden and back). In its place, a Billinton E4 'Radial' 0-6-2T, No. 32468, was brought over for us. I was rather pleased about this because I'm short on experience with 'Radials.

32468 has recently been in shops, emerging with new (or modified) side-tanks and without the external tank cladding which is normal on these engines. In contrast with other 'Radials' the tank sides display raised rivet-heads like those on the 4Ps. The firehole, instead of being oval, was large and rectangular; and the firedoor, which was hinged along the top, opened inwards to act as a 'baffle plate' (Le. deflector plate). '468 is one of the E4s with lever reverse - seven notches in fore gear and seven in reverse. Despite my three-year absence from 'E4's I soon felt at home once more with the cab layout and fittings.

Our train consisted of a cattle-van plus a corridor three-set and, of course, we were late away from Brighton. I did the firing to Uckfield (about halfway), then handed over to Don Austen. The coal was rather poor stuff in large lumps. The brick arch is low on these engines and I hit the edge of it with several shovelfuls. Having struck the arch, this coal showered down on the centre of the grate and I ended up with a haycock fire instead of  a dished one! However, there was no shortage of steam.

We were ‘three late’ away from Lewes because of a London bound ‘spark’ [electric multiple unit] that was allowed across our path. In spite of this we would have reached TWW on time because Fred really ‘went for it’ during the last few miles; but the Tunbridge Wells home signal brought us to a dead stand. We had to re-start against the 1-in-88 gradient and, when we arrived at TWW, our guard declared that he had entered up "three late from Lewes and three late the rest of the way." So much for the veracity of that guard's journal, which failed to credit us with time recovered before thecostly signal stop!

Having berthed our train, we went on shed to 'put her away.' The fire, of course, had to be cleaned with the 'slice' [clinker shovel], the smokebox emptied with the shovel and the ashpan cleaned out with the rake from underneath. There was no rocking/drop grate, no hopper ashpan and no self-cleaning smoke box on a 'Radial'!

That was the final footplate trip to fall within my two years of National Service. It brought my total mileage for that period to 2,415. This, of course, represents an average of 100 footplatmilefor each othose 24 longdesolatmonths!

The upheaval of shed re-construction calls for three shifts of 'acting running foremen' who work around the clock. One of them, Fred Elmer [Councillor Elmer, to give him his full entitlement] was on duty tonight. I presume that the shedmaster, C.H. Stone, covers another shift while, for the third, Fred Robinson attendsdressed uto thnineihis TowCouncillor's suit and homburg hatThings are pretthectiwith the coal road and half oNo1 roa'underoccupation.Thbusy summer service givea running foremaplentto dowith nearleveryone ouon throad anwith additional anxiety caused bthe unpopula'MTs, whicaripooshape. Fred Elmer told mtonight thatjusfogood measure, therhad beetwpoinfailures today!

There are now six of the 'MT 0-4-4 tanks allocated to TWW, Nos. 30054-30059, and despite the sterling work that they did on their home ground in LSWR days, they are thoroughly detested by the men at 75F. Tonight Fred Diplock told me of his recent experience with one of them, No. 30054. This engine was propelling the 10.4pm Oxted-Uckfield Pull-&-Push train with Fred up front in the driving coach. They got to Uckfield alright but on arrival there the man on the footplate couldn't reverse the engine for the journey home. In due course Fred discovered that one of the die-blocks had seized solid on its pivot pin. The fitters had to come out from 75F to take down the motion and, eventually, 30054 was towed back to TWW, arriving about 5 o'clock next morning. By that time Fred and his mate had completed 12 hours on duty!

It seems that most, if not all, of the MTs at 75F are in a bad state of repair, but No. 31666 - a Kirtley 'RI' 0-4-4 'Chatham Tank'- is on loan to the depot and is held in high regard. Arnold Brooker told me tonight that 31666 had been on the go from 8 o'clock this morning until 10.30pm, with little or no time for oiling up during the day. No engine will  stand up to that treatment for long. [Arnold, by the way, was a very tubby young driver whom I had already known for six years. In putting a message across he displayed a solemn countenance that was really quite comical. If Arnold was discoursing at one end of the loco yard, men at the other end would be grinning with amusement, even though they couldn't hear what he said].

Fred Diplock's mate, Don Austen, goes off tomorrow for 15 days' Army reserve training and, in the lobby, Driver Jack Pring told us that 36 firemen and cleaners at Tonbridge depot are also required to go. What madness! Only three weeks ago, when the footplate men were on strike, they were branded as irresponsible saboteurs who were crippling the nation's economy. Now their accusers are doing much the same thing by depriving 74D of 36 men for a'whole fortnight at the beginning of a busy summer service. Did the authorities refuse to exempt all these men from their reserve training? Or has the shedmaster at 74D just woken up to find himself short of 36 men? . Presumably, this kind of thing is happening all over BR. .

It was 10.50pm when Fred Diplock, Don Austen and I set off home together on our push bikes.’ They both live in Southborough and from there they left me to pedal the last 4.5 miles on my own!

SundaJuly 3rd 1955

To Tunbridge Wells West this afternoon and there I chance to meet Vic Prior whom I hadnt seen for months. He was astonished to learthatomorroiwilbtwo yearsinchhosted my last footplattriacivilianTo hithose twyearseethave flownbut thecertainlhaven't fome! After a chinwag I lefhim perusinthe notices in theicason the shewallbut a suddethought mushavcrossehimind ... Two years ago, mfinatrip acivilian was withim. And next weekwhenbecome 'civvy' once moremfirsfootplattrip must also bwith himhad wished him au revoiand gone a few steps when hcalled after me witfive immortawords.

"Late turn next weekFred!"

That brought mup witjerk and turned around to ask him:

"Whajob ithat?

"2.47 up7.8 down![tanfroLondoVictoria. Hmeanpmocourse: the railways worketo a twelve-houclocin thosdays].

And siwaordained!

WednesdaJuly 6th 1955  

On thiwarmsunnevenincycleoveto TunbridgWells Westmainly in ordeto see BoRoser and Reg Craftfound thehaving their tea break in the guardslobby oPlatform and (having unburdened myself omfeelingabeina civilian again) I asked if they would have room for me next week on a couple of their Rest Day Relief turns. As I anticipated, the answer was yes; so that's another two days taken care of!

Having watched them depart with No. 80033 on the 7.37pm to Brighton I went ‘on shed' where I met Roy Coomber [a young Tunbridge Wells driver]. He spoke in glowing terms of the Kirtley 'Bobtail' No. 31666 and declared his contempt for the recently-arrived 'MT class. Fred Robinson was the acting running foreman tonight and I had a good chat with him as we watched the busy, end-of-day activities around us. All the time we stood there, engines were arriving to be put away; but Driver Jim Curtis found time to pass a few words with us, commenting on some of his workmates.

"They didnt like it when there was no work at the depot”, said he, and now that there’s plenty of work they moan because it’s keeping them busy!"

[Jim had put his finger on a feature of 75F. Even I, with friends in places, could see a difference between the Jolly Seasiders at Brighton and some of their counterparts in the smaller shed at Royal Tunbridge Wells. As an impartial observer once put it to me; “In the [enginemens’] lobby at Brighton you’ll always find ‘em having a laugh, discussing football or cricket - or crumpet. But in the lobby at Tunbridge Wells there’s usually somebody moaning!" 

Thisof coursewas a broad-brusassessmenbuicertainly containeaelemenotruth. I hasteto adthat nonof mowfootplate friends at 'the Wellscould be classed amonthe moaners].

Tonight'hard work had neffect on a group oyoung cleanerwho werchasing about alovethloco yard, throwing large stones and lumps obrickAfter a whilFreRobinson told them to desisanpatiently gavthem hireasons. Somothmissiles werlanding arounthpoints and migheasiljam themcausing a derailment[Strictly speakinghe should havset those cleanerto the tasocleaning engines. BuFrenow off thfootplatfomedical reasons had beea cleaner himself long ago; anhunderstood thebettethan I did.]

ThursdaJuly 7th 1955

Leavinhomjust before 2pm I cyclethe seven mileup over Bidborough Ridgt'rtilloridge Wells Westand there I found Vic Prior and Dick Sullivan with Fairburn 4P 2-6-4No42103, already attached to their train in Platfor4. The 2.47pm tVictoria viEast Grinstead (High Levelcomprisenothing more thaa three-corridor set - onlfew tonheavier than the enginitself. Viremarked that LocomotivInspectoCopp was over in thrunninsheanso - just icase - I travellein the train to Groombridge [thibeing our firsstopthremiles from 'the Wells']Therjoined mtwo friends in thcaof 42103.

Dick Sullivan had built up the firwith Bedwas ['soft' coafroSoutWales, which burned slowlwita shorflameand iwas just getting alightAfter I had picked uthe single-linstaff at AshursJunction [covering the sectioof line tForest Row] Dick handed oveto meanfired althe watVictoria witexcellent results, whilDiclooked aftethinjector[Singular: the onon thfireman's side othe cab]There was a bit of moment at EasGrinstead (High LevelwheLocomotivInspectoRydecame along thplatform, glanceupsaw ththree ous and wished u"good day!Apparentlhe took mfocleaner learninto fire!

AOxted went atothe tank ttake wateraftewhicwe climbed up through Oxtetunnewith a fulhead of steam and waterThen iwas all downhill intEast Croydon, frowhence we were 'right away' to VictoriaDuring thifinastage I levelled thfire and wran in on Platfor15 with fairllow fire whichneverthelesswas still making steam.

Wshunted our train back intthe
rriagsidings anweninto thloco yard where we turneothtableVitook
water whilDick wenuinto thbunketo pulsome coadown from the backMeanwhilI banked up thfirewas going tclean ioaleast drop thfronhalfbuDick said iwasn't wortthe troubleWe then hanice lon'spellin thlobbfor tea, fooanchit-chat.

Outrain home was th7.8pm toTunbridgWells viEdenbridge Towand it consisteocorridor coachesJusafter we came ouof the loco yarpusheour fire alovethgrate; andfrothe speed witwhic'103 attained full pressureI thought we werin good shapfor the start. I had tkeep putting the injectoon tavoid blowing off iVictoria stationbut whewset ofwith th7.Spm it soon becamclear that thBedwas coawanot getting alight verquicklyBthtimwe haclimbed thbank to Grosvenor bridgancrossed thThames to Battersea Park, boiler pressurwas already down, to 160lb [from blowing-off pressure o200lb].

Maybe had been right in wantinto cleathfirafter all. Near Clapham JunctioDick rockethfirebars and diso again othe climb uto CroydonHalso lobbeperhapdozen shovelfulintthe right places anthen instructed mtleave • things fobit until thfirhaburned through.

Matterfinallresolved themselves durinfairly lonstatiostoat East Croydon
nd frothere we were booketo call aall stations except Selsdon. It was here, at Croydon, that VicPrior handed over to Dick, while I did the firing all the way home.

Beyond Edenbridge, with 13 miles to go, no more firing was needed until, on levelling the fire between Ashurst and Groombridge, I sprinkled a bit more coal over the grate. And swe reached Tunbridge Wells withperhaps, a little too mucsteaand a little tomuch fire. Having shunted outrain into Platform 5 we wenoshed. No. 4210ifowashout tomorroand so, having turned, coaled and taken water, wdroppethfire and put heawaithe shed.

The alterationlist (whicVihalookeat when signinothis afternoon) showed that Dick Sullivan has beetakeoff his rostereturn tomorrow tcover a pull-andpush job. [Although he was Vic Prior's regular mateDick was already a passed.fireman; and thfireman on everpull-andpusjob had tbe a qualified driver]Facinday without his regular mateViasked me to come with hiagain tomorrow. In Dick'absence, he would have young cleanewith him (possibly onothose whwere throwing bricklast night) and he wantemwith him. (Some young cleaners ..!).

immediately jumped at this invitation. It became very apparently tonight that I need to ‘get my hand in’ again because I’m somewhat to of practice. This evening, despite having plenty of steam, I  was sweating profusely, my head was aching and I was deadbeat. I badly need to lose a stone or two - surplus weight acquired by ‘skiving’ in the RAF - and I really must try to regain condition! Hence it will be the 2.47pm again tomorrow, with Vic and No.80017.

From Tunbridge Wells West I cycled those seven miles home, ready to fall asleep over the handlebars. I can’t remember ever feeling more tired. After supper I fell into bed at eleven o’clock was very soon asleep.

FridaJuly 8th 1955

Thmorning was occupied writing yesterday'footplate trips in thidiary, clipping some cuttings of railway interest out of old newspapers and slinging mRAF kit-bag up into thloft - out osightouof mind! Thena2pmset off for Tunbridge Wells West. Iwas anothehotsunndaa continuatioof thheatwave.

The 2.47pm to Victoria via East Grinsteawas in Platfor4 at Tunbridge WellWesand again it consisteoonlthree corridocoachesthe guarbeing our olfriend 'NobbyClarkIn the cab of No. 8001joined ViPrior anhifireman for the day - a youncleanecalled 'NeroWickensThlatter habuilt up good fire and performed well witthe shoveso thataparfrom pickinup the single-line staff at Ashurst Junctiondinothing until we reached Oxted. Meanwhilstood ithe cab door openinbehind Viand iwaquitewarm enougevethere. Thheat ithdriver's corner must have beestifling.

[That corner was hemmed in by a pedestalwhiccontained hot steam pipes universafeature on thBR Standard classesOn thfirs'Standards' to bbuiltthe pedestasteapipes weren't even laggeand they consequentlroastethdrivers' legs].

At Oxtewent up on the tank tgewateandon returning to the cab, accepteyoung Wickensoffer othe shovelThcoal today was Chislet [frothKent coalfiel'and good stuff at thtime]Therwasn't much firing to do on those last 20 miles (mostldownhillto Victoriaanlevellethfire when we lefCroydon. Therhad beelot of dust from the sofcoal, and sweeping witthbrush merelbrought a cloud of iup off thfloorcouldn't damit down because the sprinklehose wamissinfro80017Not that it matterebecausthe coasprinklevalve didn'workIt was made to a'improved' design thbrainchilosome drawing-board genius with no experience of practical locomotive work[There wermansuch peoplas I can testifyworked alongside them at botBrighton and Derby!]

Ithoriginal design osprinkler-valve, as fitted to thBR4s, thhand-wheel had a squarholin its centre; and this fitted ovea square-ended valve-spindle to provide an infalliblgrip between the two. The 'improvedhand-wheel has a conicaseating othspindle and, without a key, it depends on frictionUnder repeateuse, thretaining nut slackens off and thhandwheel loses its grip othspindle.

Todacouldn't tighten thretaininnut because, o80017, we had no suitable spanneithrudimentar'tool-kit' [and in any case, as I've saidthe sprinkler-hoshagonmissing]. Anso, aSelsdon, (just before ththird-rail area ruled out such a movegot down on thballast to filoubucket witwatefrom thinjector overflow pipeThat wamonlway of 'laying the dustinside the cab.

At Victoria, aftepropellinour train froPlatform 1into thsidings, wentered thloco yard anturned ouengine on thtable. Then I cleaned the fire while Vie and himate toowater and broughover somknobs ohard coafrom Charlie Figg's wagon[CharliFigg waan old frienda real Londoner, permanently employed in the loco yard at Victoria although he cam under Stewarts Lane on the other side of the river]. I cleaned the fire thoroughly by pushing the top layer forward, dropping the back, pulling the good fire to the rear and dropping the front. Then we banked it up with some hard ‘knobs’ and retired to the lobby. At this time of day the yard is busy with up to four engines visiting at once.

I went outo 80017 a little in advance of my colleagues in ordeto bring some coaforwarfrothrear of the bunkeand then I levelled thfire over the grate. Pressure was down on 140lb and water was low in the glass, so there waplenty of margin to prevenblowing off during the halhour befor'right away.' I built up thfire gradually, two othreshovelfuls of Chislet at a time, so enablinit to get alight anavoiding undue smoke.

Outrainthe 7.Spm to Tunbridge Wells West viEdenbridge Townconsisted of four corridors, leaving Victorifrom Platfor14. I did the firing throughout and there was.none of last night's trouble: thhard coafrom CharliFigg's wagon made althdifferenceOn thhelter-skelter run from Victorito Croydothe steam came easily and pressurdid not falbelo1901bClimbing over thNorth Downs our engine steamevery freelandfor the rest of thrunall went smoothlyAt Groombridge, witthree moruphill mileto TWW, wstill had an abundance of steam. I inspected thfire and made thmistake o'seeingmorthawas actuallthere! told Vic that had a bit too mucon the grate and he set about burniniaway. We chopped ofthe beatin fine stylto reach TWW on timor perhaps a little earldespitthe effect olon'P Way' slack to the nortof Edenbridge Town.

My fire was virtually out across the middle of the grate whenafter berthing our trainwe went on shewitabou140lb of steam and half a glass of waterA 'strategic arrivalas my BrightofrienDriver George Washington woulhave called it! But there wasn't enough steato fill up the boiler witwater beforputting the engine away; annoenough incandescenfire to banup onAnd so, while young Wickentoocoalsprinklesome coal alover thfire and blew thpressurup to 180lb. Bthtimwleft the coacranto go oshedall was in order! Iwas a harjob turning '17 on the tabland assistancwas givebthree orfour cleaners. Thenwhile Vic and himate took waterI cleaned thfire and banked it up fothnight before taking leave of 80017highly satisfiewith a very successful trip. I left 75a10.10pm and, in contraswityesternight, I felt quite wide awake on the seven-mile cycle-ride home. Despite thheaof the day, my worhad not takesmucout ome.

SaturdaJuly 9th 1955

This afternoocycled over to Tunbridge WellWestchancing to meet Ron Bridgerwho had DickSullivan as himate on a pull&-push turn. They wanted me to go with thetonightto Oxted and back oNo. 31666. [I could kick myself now, fomissing that chance of a ride on thlittle 'ChathaTankbut, witso many othethings to do, I had to excuse myselfAlthough mdiary fails to mention. I seem to recall Ron’s admonition; “It may turn out to be the only chance you’ll get!” And, of course, he was almost right!] 

I also saw George Huntley, with whom I entered into a discussion on the BR4 coal sprinkler valves (referred to yesterday).

This afternoon for the only time in our lives, we agreed to differ. George blames the enginemen for those troublesome sprinkler valve hand wheels: I blame bad design!

SundaJuly 10th 1955

Throughout mtwo long years in captivitI've reserved mfirst Sundabacin 'civvy street' foa cycltrip to thLoop. Today was thaSundayThCrowhursLoop was a little-used section of double trackone-third omilin length, whicconnected the Tonbridge-Redhill line with that from East Grinstead to Oxted. Manpeoplreferred tit as the Crowhurst Spur but to me it was alway'thLoop.Until the summer service of 1955 'thLoop' carried only onpublic train each dain th'updirectionth7.26am (weekdays) from Edenbridge tLondon Bridge via OxtedRusty rails testified that therwas nregular servicover the 'downroad. ThLoop saw its finaservice oMay 27 1955, on the eve of thASLEstrikeand six weeks beforwademobed.

Despite it's lack of usethe Loop was aimportant strategilink. It caminto its own during emergencies and it was an absolute godsend during the criticamonthof 1940.Todaittrackbed is covered by a mass omaturtrees.

For me, a 'push-bike' ride to the Looinvolved a round trip osome 35 miles along a gentlundulating countrroad without any seriouhills and ithose daywith hardly anmotor traffic. For mucof its length thiroad nevestrayeverfar from the Tonbridge-Redhill railwalinenevesaw a train traversinthe Loop itself; but CrowhursJunction South wasplendilocation for photographs. Moreover, withougoing verfar from there, oncould photograph trains on two other routes: East Grinstead-Oxted and Edenbridge Town- Oxted. Cycling to thLoop during a peaceful weekend was always delectablexperienceI reserved it for speciaoccasions; and thismy first Sunday in 'civvy street'waa very speciaoccasion!

The weather couldn'have been kinder. set ou[from Tonbridgewith my cycle oa lovely summeevening, reaching Littlebrowns [neaEdenbridgeat 7.35pm. There I waited to photograph th7.43pm Tonbridge-Redhill train, whicwas hauled b'Charlie' [Qclass 0-6-0]No. 33030Sooafterwards th7.45pm Redhill- Tonbridgwent bin chargof 'E40-6-2No32516Moving on I passed Crowhurst Junction South without stopping and took up position justo thnortoLingfield brickworks. And therein fading lightphotographed 4P tank No. 42087 on th7.47pm Tunbridge WellWest-Victoria viEast Grinstea(High Level)It wa8.45pm when I begathreturn journeyI reachehomin darknesswell pleased witaevening that recaptured thflavour of similar outings in thpast.

MondaJuly 11th 1955

travelled down to Brighton thimorningto  keep mtryswith Bob Roseand ReggiCraft [se6 Jul1955]Having arrived there, found the 'eleven o'clocCardiffalreadin platform 2 (a clas'Mogulhaving broughithempty stock). The train was made up of six corridor coaches, to bincreaseat Fareham by the addition of four froPortsmouth.

In due course No.34045 Ottery St Mary came out of the loco yard and, as she hooked on, I joined Bob Roser and Reg Craft in the cab. I had been with them for less than a minute when Locomotive Inspectors Harding and Ryder came walking along the platform together. So I took up position on the firemans side of the cab while Bob and Reg leaned out of the driver’s side, looking a picture of innocence. They wished the two passing inspectors “Good morning!” while concealing me from two pairs of not-so-observant eyes! [The consequences of ‘getting caught’ didn’t bother me personally - and I never did get caught. But I was always anxious not to land my friends in trouble].

The tender contained hard coal but a smattering of Welsh became evident later in the run. The fire had been built up beforehand and now, as we set off, Reg began the shovel work while I climbed into my overalls. He handed over to me at Shoreham and I fired all the way from there to Salisbury, but Reg went up on the tender to take water at Chichester and Fareham.

No.34045 has had its boiler pressure from 280 to 250Ib and is now fitted with ordinary water gauge glasses in place of the original Klinger reflex type.

This was my first trip to Salisbury since 29th September 1952, but I was soon reliving my apprenticeship days on this job; because 34045’s cab was a place of stifling heat, and today was another hot, sunny one! Hence, although I found no difficulty in keeping up steam pressure and water level all the way to Salisbury, I dd find the heat very tiring. To help move the last few miles, Reg ran the pricker through the fire, after which I sprinkled a bit more coal over the grate and that was enough to get us there.

We had no booked stops over the 24.5 miles between Southampton and Salisbury; and from Nursling [4.5 miles beyond Southampton] we began the 16 mile climb up to Bridge 44. at this point Reg initiated me into a bit of nonsense which, for him was utterly out of character. He (along with many other from 75A) feels that most ‘South Western Enginemen think too much of themselves and their railway. At Dean [about 4.75 from Bridge 44] the ‘eleven o’clock Cardiff always passes a goods engine in the sidings, with Salisbury men in charge of it; and Reg likes to show ‘em what he thinks of their Dean bank. The game is to have ‘  potful of water’ and a full head of steam after passing through Romsey. This produces (for the benefit of Salisbury men) the spectacle of a Brighton West Country, trailing 10 corridors, hurtling up through Dean with safety valves blowing and with the fireman relaxing in his seat, smoking a cigarette and preferably reading a newspaper.

Today we reached Salisbury two minutes early, at 1.29pm by the station clock. Reg unhooked us and we ran light engine down to the running shed. [On the Western section, firemen had to do their own coupling and uncoupling. ‘At home’ on the Central section it was normally done by the a shunter]. On the coal road Reg removed a little dirt from the fire and put a few shovels of coal on to keep it going. Then we left '45 tbcoaled, watered and turned by Salisbury men. After a wash-up, we strolled out of the shed, crossed the well- remembered Cherry Orchard Lane and entered the welcoming staff canteen.

For the 2.52pm train back to Brighton we had Welsh coal, supplied by Salisbury. I began building the fire up as soon as we arrived back from the canteen; and Reg spread it over the grate while we stood up at the East signal box waiting for our train to arrive from Plymouth. It consisted of 10 corridors and a van, and we hadn't gone very far beyond Tunnel Junction before the boiler pressure was down to 160lb! It was evident that our slow-burning Welsh coal was nowhere near alight. So Reg took over from me andafter using the pricker on the firehe did the shovel work for a while. In the meantime I stood behind Bob, finding it intensely hot in the cab of 34045. I couldn't help thinking that, while these engines are being re-designed at Brighton, some improved ventilation should be provided.

While Reg took water at Southamptonwent to refill our drinking water bottles, to which we all had frequent recourse during the day. From St Denys I took over the shovel work again, Reg having by now got very hot. I did the firing as far as Fareham, where we dropped four coaches and the van, leaving us with six corridors for the rest of the run to Brighton. Reg did the reminder of the firing from Fareham and, during the last few miles, I had a wash-up in the bucket. At Brighton I stood on the platform, chatting with Bob and Reg until they followed the empties out. This happened to be knocking off time for Brighton Work and I exchanged greetings with several of my old workmates as they hurried to catch their train home from the adjoining platform.   

TuesdaJuly 12th 1955

Being on top-link Rest Day Relief this weekBob Roser and Reg Craft have an earlier job each day. Their working week ends on Friday with the earliest of early turns, after which they go off duty for a long weekend and return to work on the latest of late turns next Monday night. Today they were on the 9.40am Brighton to Bournemouth and I travelled down from Tonbridge on the  7.25am train. At Brighton I joined Bob and Reg on 'West Country' No. 34046 Braunton when they hooked on to the 9.40 in Platform 2. We had only five corridors all the way to Bournemouth Central and were soon on the move.

No. 34046 still has its boiler pressed to 280lb and the Klinger Reflex water gauges are still in position. These are often quite difficult to read dueI believe, to the brownish colour of the water, caused by the insertion of water softening chemicals.

I was soon into my overalls and took over the firing at Hove. The fire had been built up very nicely and again we had hard coal to feed it with. It was yet another sunny day but, for some reason, the cab of ’46 was much cooler than ’45’s was yesterday. This may have ben because of our earlier start, at 9.40 instead of eleven o’clock; and of course, we were in Bournemouth soon after the sun had climbed overhead.

I did the firing throughout from hove to Bournemouth, although Reg went up on the tender to take water at Chichester. From Chichester, of course we were right away to Southampton Central (without stopping at Fareham) and I had plenty of steam for the bank beyond Fareham. The run was as uneventful as it was successful. I had lobbed the last shovelful of coal before we reached Christchurch and, with hard coal, the fire did not need to be levelled with the pricker as we approached our destination.

Reg unhooked us at Bournemouth Central, where our helper (a cleaner or spare fireman from Bournemouth Shed) joined us. Then we ran light engine down to Branksome, turning on the triangle there before going into Branksome loco. As always, the Bournemouth fireman went stop the tender to trim our coal forward; Bob Roser went round with the oil can and Reg having found that the fire didn’t need cleaning, banked it up. After that we retired to the lobby for ‘grub.’

In due course we found ourselves hooking on to the same five corridors at Bournemouth West, these forming the 1.50pm back to Brighton. Reg prepared the fire while I took some photographs and Bob took one of me as I leaned from the cab of 34046.

Do you want to borrow my hat for it? he asked (meaning his greasetop).

“No thanks! I’ll wear my old faithful!” (I was referring to the khaki fatigue cap that has accompanied me on so many of my footplates adventures). Accordingly, Bob photographed me in my own special footplate cap. Little did I realise that I was wearing it for the last time.

The fire (which Reg had built up) took us to Boscombe before I began plying the shovel. As yesterday, Reg took water water at Southampton Central while I refilled our drinking water bottles. After passing St. Denys we took some photographs of each other at work on the footplate, shots of firemanCraft and fireman Rich being taken from back in the tender.

By now it had become very warm and, without thinking, I must have pushed my cap back on my head. Then, somewhere on the way down into Fareham I stuck my head out of the window and - whoosh! - the cap was gone. I was somewhat put out because I valued that old cap. Having used it over many thousands of footplate miles, I had planned to hang it up one day as a memento of all the happy hours I had worn it.

about a mile further on we spotted some plate layers at work; and, as we passed them, we shouted and gesticulated, indication Reg’s cap and my bare head. As we left them behind us, one of the gang lifted his own cap slowly and vertically high above his head to acknowledge “message understood.” The station foreman at Fareham told Reg that if the plate layers found my cap, he would give it to the driver on the Bournemouth tomorrow and I even had thoughts of visiting Fareham tomorrow to look for it myself. But I couldn’t help feeling that I’d lost it for good. Anyone finding it was sure to wonder why such a tremendous fuss was being made over so humble a piece of headgear.

Reg took over the firing for a while after this tragedy had occurred; and I felt quite lost without a cap until Bob produced his bag an old black beret that helps for emergencies of this kind. With that on my head I resumed the firing and continued almost as far as Worthing. A ‘wash-up’ during the closing miles enabled me to step down from the cab of 34046 on arrival at Brighton station. Going on shed with my friends in broad daylight wold hardly do: somebody might ask questions. And so, having arranged to join Bob and Reg on the ‘paper train' job next Monday night, I took my leave and got the 5.44pm train to Tonbridge.

Only when arrived home did I feel at all consoled. It was then that I tried on my stand-by cap - a twin of the lost one - retained for just such an emergency. Looking at myself in the mirror, I was obliged to laugh because here was a brand new capunsoiled by coal dust and oil. I looked quite a toff in it! [I never did see the old one again].

WednesdaJuly 13th 1955

On yet another hotsunndawent down to Ashfordpaying mfirsvisit to thloco works since 1952Aftelapse of three years it was a jotmeet anchawith some of my old workmatefrom 1948. Eventuallmadmy way tthmarking-off tablewhichas become focal point in my visits tAshfordand therwas greeted by DenyPack [the chargehandanthe samolfriends with whom I workeaaapprentice in thclosinmonthof 1948.

We haplenty to talk abouandwhile wwerchattingDenys suddenly went to his cupboardopeneit and produced fominspectiolargovabrasplate. Iwaonof the originaSharStewart works plates No. 3730 - which hhad removed froone footstep othKirtley 'Bobtail', No. 31666when itlast visited Ashford WorksDenyinot thkinomawho would plundeliving enginebut whe31666 caminto the shops it seemed a safbet that thlittlloco had arrived foscrap. So Denys helped himself to thtrophyBthtimhdiscovered that 31666 had a further leasof lifetherwas no inconspicuous way orestoring thplate titrightful place on thfront footstep. I reassured him thatdespite thmissing works plate, 31666 inodoing some splendid work 'on loan' to TunbridgWellWes[see July 26 and 9].

Having left thmarking-off tablI took a stroll through the erecting shop and works yardAmonthe engineon view whicwill neveleave Ashford againsaid goodbye to H-tank No. 31309, 'D' 4-4-0 No. 31591, 'E40-6--2No. 3250and 'E5xNo32576. [In fact at leas3250and 32576 subsequentldileavAshfordbut onlto travel to Brighton for cuttinup].

ThursdaJuly 14th 1955

Today was devoted to lineside photography and it began - after a 15-mile 'push bike' journey - above the southern portal of Littlebrowns tunnel. [This is on the line between Tunbridge Wells and Oxted, a mile and a quarter to the north of Edenbridge Town]. Two days ago I told Bob Roser and Reg Craft that I would be here this morning to photograph them on the 8.20am Brighton to Victoria (viEridge). This train was due to pass Littlebrowns at about 9.39am and it duly appeared in my viewfinder, hauled by Brighten-built Fairburn 2-O-4T No. 42104; but my friends had forgotten to lean out for the photograph. I had already released the shutter before Reg Craft spotted me at the very last moment, and he only had time for a hasty wave as 42104 plunged into the tunnel, [It transpired that my photo was dull, very grainy and lacking contrast. Nevertheless, I had cycled a long way to get it; and I treasure it now as a memento of that special moment, 54 years ago].

I loitered near the tunnel mouth for another half-hour, waiting to photograph the 10.4am Oxted- Tunbridge Wells West. This was a two- coach pull-and-push train, running 'car first' and the engine, propelling from behind, was No. 32390 - a pleasant surprise. '390 is now 61 years old and the only survivor of 36 Billinton 'D3' class 'bogie tanks' which were built at Brighton from 1892 to 1896. This engine has now remained in service nearly two years longer than any of my classmates, much to the amazement of many people (including myself) [The D3s had been familiar to me since my schooldays. Several of them came into Ashford Works for scraping while I served the first year of my apprenticeship there in 1948; but about 16, including 32390, lasted into the fifties. I was sorry to them go; they were useful little engines with nice, roomy cabs and could accommodate four people at a pinch. In complete contrast to the South Eastern H class 0-4-4 tanks had very restricted cabs in which three was an awkward crowd. To my everlasting regret I never fired, nor even rode on a Billinton ‘D3’; and any remaining chance for me to do so was extinguished four months later when 32390 came into Brighton Works for scrap].

Th10.4am Pull-&-Push from Oxteicovered bTunbridge WellWest Duty No. 669 bu32390 belongto Brightoshed. Clearlit habeen drafted inalong with 31666aa substitute for the ailing 'M7s'. The current service requires a daily musteof four 'M7sfrom Tunbridge Wellshed but didn'see any of them at work today. ObviouslthWesterSection would never relinquish anof its best M7s to a Foreign’ shed but they do appear to have off-loaded their most run-down specimens. [the state of these poor old crocks did much to destroy the reputation of Class M7 at Tunbridge Wells West, where they came to be loathed and detested. A certain driver in the top link soon found himself in charge of one and - to use an expression in vogue at the time - he 'lost a week' with it. He came back to the enginemens' lobby with a Lost Time TIcket; and there, at the table, he took a blunt pencil to the space demanding a reason for lost time. In large, bold characters he scrawled the simple explanation 'MT - and nothing more. In his opinion that said it all. Then, holding it up to those around him, he declared "They tell you to be brief, so I have been!"]

SundaJuly 17th 1955

On this very warm evening I cycled out to the Crowhurst Loop [see July 10 1955], pausing at Littlebrowns for a photo of the 7.43pm Tonbridge to Redhill train. It was hauled by a 'Q1' 0-6-0, No. 33036. Moving on, I came to the overline bridge at Lingfield Intermediate Box (Lingfield Brickworks), where I intended to photograph the 7.47pm Tunbridge Wells West to Victoria viEast Grinstead, which was due in about 10 minutes' time. However, I hadn't even dismounted when I heard the rumble of thunder away to the east. I was 18 miles from home, without a cycling cape. There were ominous storm clouds blocking my retreat and the wind was bringing them closer. Without putting my feet to the ground, I turned tail for home. We [my cycle and I] ate up the miles but the thunder grew loudeand, approaching LeighWe encountered thrain. It turneinto a deluge and thlightning becamquite personalIf a bolt of lightning strucmy steel handlebarswould thrubbetyres and hand grips insulatme? Not wishing to put this matter to thtest I pulled into a pub andin due course, caught the 10.20pm (the mail trainfrom LyghHalto Tonbridge. [Thname of this statiowas spelthuto distinguish it froother places called Leighalthough I could nevesee thpoint of it].

I had no privilege ticket order, of course, so the 2.5-mile journey cost 6d for me and 1/3d for thbike. Figuratively speaking my train travelled through the darkness of nightbuin fact thlightning was almost continuouand it illuminated the landscape in flashes of bligh'daylight.In a series of closelspaced flashes saa camping tent pitched bthe riversidbeneatcouple of trees; andapart from the thunder and lightning, it was beinlashed btorrential rain. I didn't envy the occupants!

Having arrived at Tonbridge (behind 'King Arthur No30803 Sir Harry le Fise LakeI joinecrowds opeoplin thbookinhallwaiting for the deluge tstopEventuallit did and cycled homestill with lightning forking down fast anfurious. Quite aevening outltlt had beewarm daya warm weeka warm fortnightDemob weather!

MondaJuly 18th 1955

In accordance witthe top-link roster at BrightonBob Roser anReg Craft did their
Rest Day Relief turn last week (and I spent two magical daywitthem)They finished up on Friday with the earliest of earlturns, whicsaw them booking ofat around midday. Since thethey've halong weekend break, whicdoesn't end until tonightwhen they book on fothlatest of late turns (i.e. the newspaper train job). Once in every twelve weeksthis arrangement provides the equivalent of three days off-dut(abou80 hoursinstead of the
l1-day fortnights that fall in between.

This evening, like a thief in the night, I'll bjoining them foanotheadventure on thfootplatethitimin the 'silenhours' under cover of darkness! (All cats are grey in the dark and all nosey officials are in bed!)

Leaving Tonbridge on th6.52pm trainwith a change at TunbridgWells WestI travelleth38 miles dowto Brighton. Bob Roser and Reg Craft weralreadin thrunning shewhearrivethere at abounino'clockand we soon joined ouenginfor the night'West Country' Pacific No34046 Braunton (Brighton enginestilcarrying a boilepressurof 280lb)IBrighton toyard we hooked oto our train, th9.34pm freight to Norwood yard; and the guard informed uthat our load was 61equal to 64, afar aThree Bridges.

Thtendecontained hard coal. [Itook piece of it home with mnext morning but - alas' - it has long since gonmissingWhat a treasured memento it would be today if onlcoulhold iin mhandsA verpoignant keepsake from that night so long agol] With this coal I made up the fire while we waited fodeparture timeI'wanted to spreathfire evenlovethe grate beforbuildinup on it; but Reg considered thito bunnecessary, so merely added coal tthe existinfire. Thiprovided us with plenty osteam to begin with butvery soonthpressurgaugneedlmoved back to its vertical position (l60lb)Evidently something was amiswith thfir[maybReg should have agreewith minstincto spread it ovethgratbefore we startedHowever ..]

Reg probed the fire witthprickeansoon found holat the extremleft-hand edgalthough, strangtrelateit wasn'audible. [Air flowing up througa holin thfirusuallproduces aunpleasant low-frequency roarwhiccan be quithard othe ears]He

showed mhow he handled thpricker in such a situationby placing it'business endhorizontallon the front othe grateits weight resting on thfirebedThenby pulling back witlightgentle grip, one caeasily locate a holin thfire: thprickedrops down into it! Oncthholhas been located, the prickeis used to spreasomothe adjacent fire over itthus eliminating thsource of the trouble. [This, of courseis what I had wanted to do beforbuilding up thfirin thfirst place!]

Reg then explained hiown concept of holin thfirunder our present conditions of
unning (with the enginproducing no morthalighdraught for fairllong periods)Thairfrom the ashpaninsteaobeindrawup througthfirebed, will takthe course oleast resistance, converging othhole and rushing up through it as if through nozzleNo amount of coafrothe shovel wilput matters rightEveif placed precisely ithholit will be immediately tossed aside by the concentrated draughcoming up througthhole.

This wasbelieve, mfirst experience wit"West Country' burning harcoaon a thifire aa fairlmoderate steaming rate. Indeed iwas a new experiencfor me trun with thin firon one of these engineswas also surprised to discover that, in the early stages of a job like the '9.;3(iNorwood'hard coaleveon 'WesCountrymay taktime to 'gealight.'

We werheld at a signal on thapproacto ThreBridges and Reg Craft carried out Rul55[Rul55 took up 9.5 pages in the 1950 RulBookTonight, so far as wwere concernedit required Reg to remind thsignalman - b'phonor bpersonacontact thawe had been detained for morthan two minutes].

In the customarfashion, we spent somtimin the yard at Three Bridgesdetaching some of ouload and taking on morin its placeThen we set off foNorwood, climbing over the Quarry line with 45, equal to 45Whemidnight arrived, we haalready reached Norwooyard. 

TuesdaJuly 19th 1955

Having unhooked from outrain, we went up to Norwood running shedwherReg Craft failed to find anclinker on the grateThere was nneed tcleathfire, so hbanked iup whiltoowater and Bob Roser went round with thoil canWe then got somcoal and turneour engine for the journehome. Finally, whad time to relax beforrunning light enginetender-firstto London Bridge.

The 3.23am newspaper traifrom London Bridge tBrightoweighed somewheraround 300 tons. Oudeparturwaabou14 minutes latbecause thnewspaper loaderwere 'going slow' [i.eworking trule over some 'industrialdispute or other]. Reg prepared thfire whilwwere waiting to leave and thenonce on thmovefired all thway to BrightonOnce agaiwe were burninhard coaandfor thfirst few miles(includinthclimb ol-in-l00 up Forest Hilbank wit'cold' engine) I fired to Reg's instructions. Thiinvolved placing three ofour shovelfuls at time in positions indicated bhim. [Reg Craft was a deeply thoughtful and highlintelligent fireman who was alwaytryinounemethods; but can'remembewhy he chosto call thtunon thioccasion. Maybe he thought he hasomething to teach meand hwas certainlrighin that! During oumany triptogetherReg taughmlot and wavery sorrwhen hleft thrailwato take up a 'betterjob]. Just a few miles from thstart hlefme to dit mwaywhicwasn'verdifferenfrohis. Mown technique was 'littland oftenthroughout thtrip.

This is an appropriate timto remark thatin commowitevery fireman knowhave ceased to use thfoot pedal wheoperating thfire doors oBulleid 'Pacifies', I did use thpedal durinmy three months of footplatwork as an apprentice in 1952butlikso manothers, I have giveiup because the Ajax steamoperated firedoor has nobeefulldeveloped. [Another exampleperhaps, of designerlacking practicafootplate experience!Thtrouble is thatespeciallwitharcoalit iusually desirablto run with partiallopen firedoorsin ordeto admit secondary ab(anclear somof thsmokfor which Bulleid 'Pacifies' are notorious). However, steam operation is impracticable froa partiallopen position.

One has to close thdoors by hand beforstarting to usthe pedal. Also, after round of firing witthpedalthdoors return to theifullclosed position anonhas to restorthem manuallto a partiallopen modeThimaseem triviainconvenience buiis a repetitive irritation that discourageuse of the Ajax foot-pedal. (Thintention is to removsteam operatiofrom the Ajax firedoorwhen the Bulleid 'Pacifiesundergo rebuilding).

For me, as fireman, this run was highly successful and we brought our train into Brighton at 4.58am, 11 minutes late. We had thus recovered three minutes from London Bridge in spite of a long permanent way slowing - at Croydon. From Three Bridges to Brighton we 
had aft-intensely white-hot fire and 34046 was really superheating! I ran the pricker through at 
starting to usthe pedal. Also, after round of firing witthpedalthdoors return to theifullclosed position anonhas to restorthem manuallto a partiallopen modeThimaseem triviainconvenience buiis a repetitive irritation that discourageuse of the Ajax foot-pedal. (Thintention is to removsteam operatiofrom the Ajax firedoorwhen the Bulleid 'Pacifiesundergo rebuilding).

Haywards Heath, after which two or three sprinkles were enough to complete this marvellous run. Our arrival at Brighton was well nigh perfect with about 160lb of steam and half a glass of water. [Just right for a long sojourn in the platform before release to the running shed]. Actually, Reg had to pubiof coa'under thdoorfollowing our arrival, to maintaireasonablamount of fire on thgrate.

Our relief arrived and, taking our leave of 34046, we walked back to the running shed where I saw some old footplate friends from my pre-RAF days. For them it was the start ofanother day: for us it was going-home time. Reg took his leave with the remark that he would see me again this evening, although I hadn't expected another night with him and Bob. However, after obtaining Bob's assurance that I would be welcome, I instantly to come.

I returned home on the 5.58 am to Redhill and the 7.27 am from there to Tonbridge. And then, at the end of my 14-hour sortie, I lost little time in going to bed!

I remained in bed until late afternoon and, in due course, took the 6.52pm train from Tonbridge to TunbridgWells WestAt thWessaArnold Brooker on 32390, thsolitarsurvivin'D3class 0-4-4T. I now understand that 'three-ninety' has beereprieved fothduratioothis summer service (thanksin partto the shortcomings of th'M7s')I must try to arranga footplate trip othis little enginbeforiis too late. [As alreadrecorded see Thur