The final day of steam

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GWR_fan
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The final day of steam

Postby GWR_fan » Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:17 am

The short illustrated link on the final day of steam on the Hattons website shows how deteriorated steam engines had become as the sun set on them. It must have been extremely demoralising for those who dedicated their working lives to steam traction only to see their machines ground into the dirt.

b308
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Re: The final day of steam

Postby b308 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:43 am

Contrary to the opinions of the romantics many (probably most?) staff were glad to see the back of them, the problem is that people romanticised steam when in day to day work it was dirty and dangerous work, especially compared with working diesels and elextrics.

I was 11 years old at the end of steam and spent many happy hours climbing over the locos in the scrap sidings at Lostock Hall shed (the last of the steam sheds), the foreman left us alone if we didn't stray into the shed itself! However I used to arrive home filthy even just climbing on out of use steamers, gawd knows how bad it was for the staff who actually worked them! I tend to look back at those days with rose tinted glasses, but I also am realistic that it was not a safe time either on the railways or in heavy engineering or mining...

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Mountain
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Re: The final day of steam

Postby Mountain » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:18 am

When I worked the railways as a guard there were passengers who often said how the steam trains were never late and how much better they were when one gentleman told his memories. He said as his job was in the legal trade, keeping his suit clean was almost impossible. No matter where he sat on the train, the seats had a permanent layer of grimy soot and grease. He said dieselization for him was the best thing that ever happened as he was able to get to work in the same suit without issue.
Other railwaymen and ex.railwaymen that I happened to meet or work with, that had worked in the steam days (I caught the last few before they retired), when I said that passengers had told me that the steam trains were never late... Well I had a memorable reply "Were they 'eck!" (And then examples were told of the numerous delays they used to have which to be honest were not greatly different to some of today's delays like engineering overruns and track issues and things like that. One of the more unusual but occasional delays was on a local line where during the passenger service (Often a mixed train) was delayed by a couple of hours as the train driver had gone fishing at a nearby river in the middle of nowhere. The local passengers were used to this delay and all had their ways to cope like knitting or read newspapers, but when word got back to the authorities, they would sack the driver, only to keep finding they would be re-employing the man due to the staff shortages around in those days. Apparently he had been sacked and re-employed a great many times!
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b308
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Re: The final day of steam

Postby b308 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Mountain wrote:The local passengers were used to this delay and all had their ways to cope like knitting or read newspapers,


Nowadays they'd be on Twitter of Facebook complaining! ;)

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Re: The final day of steam

Postby CasperGriswoldBacon » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:17 pm

think it just shows the ideology around at that time. Everything had to be futuristic and steam was very much old hat. The actual last trains organised by BR were nothing short of a disgrace for a celebration of the passing of steam when you consider it had totally changed the world. They just wanted it brushed under the carpet. Even if you totally agree that steam had to be replaced, the rush to do it compared to our neighbours in mainland europe who had started doing it before us in most cases was badly thought out and wasteful. It is true a lot of BR workers did celebrate steam going or were at best indifferent, but by the same token a lot of the real "steam men" had by '68 seen the writing on the wall and taken redundancy or retired.

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Re: The final day of steam

Postby burnie » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:29 pm

During my apprenticeship in the 1960's we had quite a few people come from the railways as the Great Central was shut down, many had some amusing tales, usually involving going in pubs whilst their train was waiting on a siding for a signal etc. I think health and safety was a bit different back then. I recall going round engine sheds and even in the main engineering works, there was little evidence of safety, we were a gang of school kids going round and there would be cranes going overhead with loads and sparks flying everywhere, makes you wonder if it got any better once the diesels came in.

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Re: The final day of steam

Postby b308 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:25 pm

CasperGriswoldBacon wrote:think it just shows the ideology around at that time..


They were also struggling to recuit, there was near full employment at the time and people could walk into better paid and much safer jobs elsewhere, rather than having to clean steam locos in all weathers and hum coal around... Things are never simple...

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Re: The final day of steam

Postby luckymucklebackit » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:55 pm

The attitudes to drinking at work or at breaks was totally different back then, I remember working in the steel industry in the 1970s an 80s and most guys went for a few pints before going on a Friday Nightshift, even the staff would go out for a pub lunch on a Friday and have two or three pints before going back in for the afternoon, nobody batted an eye.

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Re: The final day of steam

Postby Bufferstop » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:52 pm

Back in the sixties my uncle was a bus driver. He was working a trolley bus route, the outer terminus was outside a well known pub. He and his conductor left the the bus and went for a pint. Two minutes after they should have left the travelling inspector walked in and ordered them back to the depot, he drove the bus. He was dismissed on the spot, not for drinking whilst on duty but for wilfull failure to leave on time.
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CasperGriswoldBacon
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Re: The final day of steam

Postby CasperGriswoldBacon » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:51 pm

b308 wrote:
CasperGriswoldBacon wrote:think it just shows the ideology around at that time..


They were also struggling to recuit, there was near full employment at the time and people could walk into better paid and much safer jobs elsewhere, rather than having to clean steam locos in all weathers and hum coal around... Things are never simple...


well of course that's true yes. if you were starting work in 1965 and you had a choice, you'd go for the job with the better conditions and pay. Having said that, those already there were becoming increasingly demoralised. Bernie above mentions the Great Central, and lets face it from about the late 50's onwards it was pretty obvious they were running it down to anyone but the myopic, and the same was repeated all over the railway network. Faced with endless lines closed with the resultant redundancies you'd have to be mad not to want to jump over to the dieselised or electrified lines if you wanted a career in the "new" railways. If you didn't, or were offered retirement you left and i think a lot of those were the steam men because if your employer thinks your a relic from a bygone age then you might as well leave.

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Re: The final day of steam

Postby b308 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:20 am

A lot of steam men did jump to diesel and electric traction, many of them as early as possible (bear in mind that dieselisation started in the mid 50s, especially on branch lines). There an interesting bit on a video of BR in the 70s when they interview some old drivers and when asked about steam they all said they couldn't wait to see the back of it. There are some romantics around (most of the books of that era were written by them!) but most staff were glad to see the back of steam...

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Re: The final day of steam

Postby Byegad » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:32 am

luckymucklebackit wrote:The attitudes to drinking at work or at breaks was totally different back then, I remember working in the steel industry in the 1970s an 80s and most guys went for a few pints before going on a Friday Nightshift, even the staff would go out for a pub lunch on a Friday and have two or three pints before going back in for the afternoon, nobody batted an eye.

Jim


My old man was a foreman fitter on a rolling mill at Cargo Fleet Iron and Steel from the late 1940s to 1970 and told of men walked to the office for their cards if drink was detected. His attitude was the job was dangerous enough sober, let alone with a few pints on board.

b308
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Re: The final day of steam

Postby b308 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:20 pm

It was very common on the railways even back in the 80s... That accident in the early 90s put paid to that and was long overdue. If we drink anything alcoholic these days it's immediate dismissal.


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