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Old 12th January 2013, 12:52
brianrob1961 brianrob1961 is offline  
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Manchester
Posts: 22
Originally Posted by pre65 View Post
In my mind, the unsung heros of the railway world were those who were involved with loose coupled freight workings.

The extraordinary skills used by footplatemen and guards, particularly on gradients where wagon brakes had to be manually applied, or released seem largely ignored.

It would be nice to hear a few more stories about the exploits of these heros.
The best story that I ever heard was about a loaded cement train from Earles Sidings near Hope that was unintentionally run loose coupled due to there being two engines, the brake valve being left open on the rear engine, the cocks between the two engines having been left shut, and no brake test being carried out! You dropped like a stone towards Chinley Junction and it was 15 mph around the curve then. The driver managed to climb from one class 25 to the other class 25 and apply the brakes. I knew this driver and he was a typical old gimmer who got a sweat on just walking up stairs. I have no idea how he managed this amazing feat at speed AND in the confines of Cowburn Tunnel, but then it is amazing what fear can make us do.

On the subject of heroes though, I have a book about boiler explosions. I started reading it with no particular expectation of enjoying it much, but I was gripped by the tales of destruction and left if awe of the skill of the firemen who managed to keep the water level right on strange engines, sometimes on strange lines, often on heavy gradiants, where the water level indicated in the gauge had to be ignored in favour of gut instinct.

So imagine the full picture, a young fireman, a dark and freezing night with an open cab, exposed to all the elements, a miserable driver, a heavy loose coupled train, firing, looking for signals, checking the water level..... Awsome men!


Last edited by brianrob1961; 18th January 2013 at 22:01.
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