Stenlake Publishing - Derby Days – Memories of a Midland Railwayman

Derby Days - Memories of a Midland Railwayman

Author : John Weston
ISBN : 9780853617242
Cover : paperback
Price : £15.95

Unlike many other railwaymen John Weston did not come from a family steeped in generations of railway service. Early chapters evoke memories of what it was like to grow up in rural Derbyshire. It was a tough life, and the author’s father worked an 84-hour week in a limeworks and also had a 14-acre smallholding to manage.

John’s working life started in 1934 as a gardener at a country house. He first joined the railway in 1937 with around 30 young men who had started work as engine cleaners at Derby No. 4 shed at the same time, but after nine months, two or three were made redundant without the option of transferring away; John was one of half a dozen who were sent to Camden shed in London. After a mere two weeks, he too was made redundant. He returned to the Derbyshire countryside, working in a team with a traction engine and threshing machine.

By May 1939 London, Midland & Scottish Railway in Derby was recruiting again and John was back on the railway – he went on to give more than 40 years of service to the LMS and its successors. He started off as an engine cleaner (hoping one day to reach the position of fireman) working with men who were anything from 20 to 40 years older than himself. There were many experienced and highly competent engine drivers, which is what he aspired to be one day, able to work any class of train over any section of the line. Main line duties included working between Manchester Central and London St Pancras, plus services in the Peak District and to Bristol (on the Lickey Incline), and Chester as well as on many other routes. However, some men preferred to work on local trips, shed or shunting duties.

At a locomotive depot,which Derby No. 4 shed certainly was, the young engine cleaners recruited in the Autumn of 1937 had a hard and slow journey in their path to becoming a driver. Some fell out along the way, but most who came back to No. 4 shed after a period of redundancy stuck it out right through to retirement.

A long journey, but what a journey! It was one that spanned the years when the steam engine was the the king of the road, to the days when it was shunted into the breakers yard to be replaced by the more efficient, but less loved, diesel traction. Thousands of enginemen served their time at Derby No. 4 shed in the steam era. This is the story of one of those enginemen, of all the highs and lows of a journey through a career spanning the hard times of the 1930s, the Second World War, post-war austerity, nationalisation and ultimately the demise of the steam locomotive.

A5 format, 208 pages, 117 illustrations.

Derby Days - Memories of a Midland Railwayman

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