Dear Members

Hope you are all still keeping well, as the lockdown and current heatwave continue.
Many of you are too young to remember Denis Moore whose efforts founded our club back in de Havilland days. This week from the archives, we can see what a brilliant artist he was with his original poster. We also have another mixed bag of interesting articles from our regular contributors which we hope you will continue to find of interest, including an excellent guide on essential tools.


Phil and Nigel

Please email all submissions to  or



One Foot in the Smoke Box
The Trials of a Heritage Railway Fireman - Number 16


After the last article I had expected it to be some while before I was able to resume as a cleaner. However, over the next year I manager to fit in 10 turns and into 2005 up to March another 4. So in total I had now completed 39 turns as a cleaner. At the time I started at the railway there was no specific rules about gaining promotion to a fireman. The general rule of thumb was about two years. This of course did not indicate how many turns you may have done and of course some cleaners would turn up more less every weekend whilst others may only do 3 or 4 turns a year. Wayne had passed out as fireman the previous year having completed many cleaning turns and not least because he was particularly good at firing. By the time I was ready for promotion new guidelines had been introduced. These indicated a minimum number of cleaning turns, the need to pass a written exam and of course to prove competency in the rule book.

So it was in early 2005 I had a rules test with the ops manager which having spent some time learning the rules book was fairly easy. A few weeks later several of us arrived at Wansford to take the new written exam. The questions for this had been taken from the ‘Black Book’ which was produced by BR in 1957 as a general guide to all footplate crews. Before this each pre nationalisation company had had their own guides and rules as well. The book is entitled Handbook for Railway Steam Locomotive Engine Men and of course the original BR books were black. Mine is a reprint from 1998 but some of the original copies can still be found in book shops or on line. Wayne was given an original copy when he passed out as a fireman.



Now the questions in the exam were taken out of context and some were misleading or repetitive. For example, three questions asked how an injector worked, what an injector did and how it did it! All one simple answer really. Several of us disagreed with the answers given as either we had misinterpreted them or as we said the inspector setting the exam had not read the Black Book correctly. A quick referral to the Black Book soon proved us right. However, every one passed anyway and having already been assessed on three trips by three different drivers I was duly passed out as a fireman on 26/2/05.

My next turn was actually still as a cleaner as I had already been rostered as such for the 13/3/05. This was with Harry as driver and Wayne as fireman. Wayne kindly let me fire all day which was good practice and I knew that if I screwed up he was there to help me. The turn was on the Polish 0-8-0T which as I think that I have mentioned before would steam on a sixpence assuming that the injectors worked and it didn’t run a hot bearing etc.!

My first turn as a fireman was on 27/3/05 with Bill as driver and no cleaner. Having no cleaner was to become quite a common theme over the next few years and makes for a very hard days work with coupling, uncoupling, ground-frames to work etc. as well as firing. This is more pronounced if you are with a driver who offers no help at all and on some occasions won’t even keep an eye of the fire whilst you are busy elsewhere.  However the day went smoothly and all was fine.

During 2005 I completed 14 turns, as a new fireman you tend to be keen to start with. This tends to wane over a few years as we will see later.




Denis Moore's Advertisement for new members. 





India Part 2
A Broader Look at Traffic


One of my inspection trips took me to Pune, or Poona, as the Colonel in Fawlty Towers would have known it. The station there is large, serving a number of lines, and this was the view from my hotel.





Perhaps a little difficult to see, but the trackwork here reminds me of Hatfield as realised by Chris. Many a slip…
Back to the narrow gauge, on another visit, staying this time a Vadadora (Baroda) for inspections in Bharuch, an hour’s drive south along a dual carriageway. This road was being rebuilt close by and as sections were completed we were swapped over to the new section by means of a dirt track. The final section of the journey took us over the wide Namada river on the first visit on a reasonably modern concrete bridge. On the subsequent visit we were diverted across what had been the railway bridge, British built and still bearing the maker’s plate. It was a single track bridge, but now in use as a two way road!! With pedestrians, cyclists and ox carts in addition to all the heavy commercial traffic and buses, it was absolute mayhem.
Anyway, on my first trip to Bharuch I noticed a narrow gauge railway crossing the road about half an hour out of Vadadora. To my great delight on the second morning the barriers were closed and our car was a short way down the queue, so to my colleague’s surprise and our host’s horror, I jumped out of the car, camera in hand, to get some photos. I had to negotiate the bouganvillia bushes, nice flowers but as I discovered, long thorns, on the verge. Before the barriers re-opened I dashed back to our car, to the relief of the driver. On another day I repeated the sequence, although we were nearer the barriers this time.
Sadly the line is no more, having been converted to standard gauge along with almost all other lines. And a bridge has replaced the crossing. The line was one of the first opened in India in 1862 from Dabhoi to Miyagam, part of a network of 2ft 6in narrow gauge lines in Gujarat.







The road traffic was controlled from the rather ramshackle open plan box by the road and the railway signalling from the more traditional box which has the telegraph wires. There was no sign of any lighting for night time use.
The lorries are the usual decorated types and you may observe the traditional means of transport on foot behind the signal box.
In these rural parts of India it is not unusual to see ox carts and camel carts in use. The camel carts need two up front as you can’t see over a camel, and each boy has to peer along the side of it to see what is ahead. They are considerably faster than ox carts.
There was the occasional sighting of more interesting transport, as this view from our rear window shows.



And finally, accidents were all too frequent a sight, however this one was more amusing than some of sights of saw. The truck was completely blocking our carriageway so our driver followed everyone else and drove over the central reservation to continue wrong road past the obstruction. No flag signal men on duty! Oncoming traffic had to deal with the situation.





The MG Car Clubs Light Hearted article on the use of tools. 



Click on the picture above to read the article.



MIDDLETON Circa 2002


Malcolm gave us a CD with some better pictures of Middleton in its original form.
These photos we believe were taken by Chris








More pictures next week so stay tuned.









All the way to Sacramento to find the Railroad Museum was shut.



The two following pictures were taken through the half open door.




I was told that there was a car museum a couple of miles down the railroad track. On the way I stumbled on these two locomotives.




Then the good news!
The California Motor Museum was open.

They even had an Austin Seven.




If you have missed one of our Newsletters you can find them on our website



Answers in the next Newsletter.


What do these vehicle manufacturers names stand for.


Example        VW     Volkswagen


  1. MG
  2. BMW
  3. ERF
  4. FIAT
  5. TVR
  6. ALFA
  7. BRM
  8. SEAT
  9. AMG
  10. MAN



Answers to last weeks Quiz.