Beamish wrote:Maybe this will jog a few memories?
It certainly does!
I lived on Durham railway station between 1958 and 1964 in No.2 Station House which was located directly above the parcels office.
I recall seeing the remnants of the G5's and ugly A8's but mostly V1/V3's as station pilots during this period which in turn where eventually superceded towards the end by those small diesel electrics, BR class 24.
I was privileged to have been taken for rides on the pilot a few times when I was a toddler much to my mothers apprehension and sometimes panic. My mother said I was often snatched out of her arms by the driver who would say "stop worrying, he'll love it". "He will remember it for ever" and the like.
My memories of most of those rides are vague with the exception of one in particular which I remember vividly and began when I found the station pilot (V1/V3) parked in the long bay platform (unmarked platform 5). The same platform depicted in the previously posted photo.
On this occasion I was invited onto the footplate and given a full and detailed run down of all the controls, gauge glasses etc. and recall the vacuum brake was a Gresham and Craven job. I got a bit of a fright when the action of the "blower" and fire dampers was demonstrated as it created a sudden rush of hot air back into the cab from the open firehole door. After the "lesson" I was expecting to be asked to leave the footplate but to my surprise and delight the driver closed the cab door and asked me to take the hand break off which I think was behind the fireman's-side seat. Being only 4 years of age I had trouble getting the tight handle to turn so the fireman did it. We then trundled gently back (bunker first) out of platform 5 onto the up-slow line, past Durham North signal box and into a siding just north of the box, where we awaited the arrival of the next train to be assisted over the viaduct.
After some time had elapsed I saw a Peppercorn-headed passenger train flash past the fireman's side window. I know it to have been a Peppercorn loco because of the unique shape of the smoke deflectors on those engines, other than that it was too fast to allow me to read its nameplate.
Not long after this we moved gently forward onto the up-slow line again and gently buffered-up to the last carriage of the passenger train standing in platform 4. The driver told me to keep my head down when we pass through the station because if the station master sees me he would get the sack. At that age I did not know what getting the sack meant but instinct told me it was something bad. After two "crows" on the whistle we began to move and pushed the passenger train out of the station and across the viaduct helping it on its way South. We stopped about 3/4 of the way over the viaduct and after a short delay ran slowly back towards the station. It must have been the last pilot job of the day as we were routed through the crossover on the viaduct from the up line onto the Down line and then onto the Down slow line into platform 3 where we stopped and I was helped off the footplate. There was a large crowd of children of all ages waiting on the platform all shouting "what was it like" and so forth but being a very shy boy in those days, I pushed my way through the crowd and ran off home to tell my mother all about it. The pilot continued on to Gateshead.
I was so impressed with all the copper pipes, brass handles and gauges, the next day I drew a full-size picture of all the pipe work etc on my bedroom wall with wax crayons, which were subsequently confiscated.
The driver who gave me this most memorable day was Tommy Thompson. He lived at Prospect Terrace, Nevilles Cross in Durham City and the last time I saw him was the mid-1970's when he was confined to a wheelchair following a stroke. Sadly, another stroke finished him off.
My early years on Durham Railway station and the generosity of people like Tommy Thompson and the signalmen and some porters led me eventually to become a volunteer steam locomotive fireman on the NYMR in the 1980's. The seed had been planted.
Another regular duty carried out by the station pilot at Durham usually occurred around about mid mornings. The pilot would assemble a small goods train consisting of an open wagon, a box van and a guards van, all assembled and taken from the engine shed area. Sometimes this tiny goods would be taken straight off to the south and be back within an hour or hour and a half. Other days it would be assembled as usual but backed into platform 7 (bay platform opposite Durham South signal box) before the afore mentioned would take place. I think it may have been dropping off supplies to signal boxes etc and the branch lines off Relly Mill junction (triangle).
Upon its return, the three wagons would be separated on the engine shed roads and sidings ready for the next time. Sometimes a little pole shunting was employed too with a purpose made pole device.