Dave & Jim Burnett

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Mickey
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Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by Mickey » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:00 am

Does anyone know what became of brothers Dave & Jim Burnett?. I didn't know either of them that well and only came across them when I was a 15 & 16 years old telegraph lad at Welwyn Garden City box between 1972 & 1974.

During 1972-74 when I knew of them both Dave may have been a controller in Great Northern House located on the Euston road (today a YMCA hostel just a few doors along from the Euston Flyer pub) and his brother Jim was a relief signalman who appeared to spend many hours at New Southgate box at that time and was also known to 'listen in' on the 'control phone line' and make funny noises like funny voices and burping when conversations were taking place between the controller and other signalmen. Also I forget how it came about but I visited New Southgate box one afternoon towards the latter end of 1972 a few months before the box finally closed along with nearby Cemetery box in February 1973 and Jim was working the box that afternoon and quite possibly his brother Dave may have rang him up beforehand and told Jim I was on my way to the box to have a look around before it was closed.

With regards to Dave I do remember chatting to him on a train from Kings Cross one late afternoon around the summer of 1974 when he may have been a power box supervisor in the current Kings Cross PSB at that time but that was the last time I saw him.
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Dave S
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by Dave S » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:20 am

I seem to remember a 'Jim Burnett' working at Potters bar as a railman around 1980. I know elsewhere on the GN that ex signalman went onto platform duties such as at Letchworth -Don Kirby, although I also remember a TTI* called Vaugn Williams(?) who was an ex signalman.

*Another TTI was Barry Knox who was so strict he would have sent his granny to Barnet Magistrates for any excess travel.

Mickey
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by Mickey » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:00 am

So Jim was a railman at Potters Bar in 1980 ok Dave thanks.

Yes a number of former signalmen on the Kings Cross area went 'on the platform' after all the boxes closed between the early 1970s & 1976. Harry Fitzgerald a former resident signalman at Welwyn Garden City box went as a railman at Hatfield after the box closed in September 1976 until the mid/late 1980s when I believe he may have passed away around 1988?. Also Alan 'peddler' Palmer another former resident signalman at Welwyn Garden City box initially went as a railman at Welwyn Garden City station 'punching tickets' on the footbridge until he asked to go back into signalling and went to Kings Cross PSB as a resident signalman where he remained until he retired in 1989. A London relief signalman called Jim Churcher that one or two on here will know of I remember running into him at Finsbury Park station around 1975 after he went as the 'Up Side Platform Inspector' at Finsbury Park station and I recall that he was and wearing a black British Rail jacket with silver buttons and a B.R. hat with the gold braid (scrambled egg!) before moving on to pastures new also the fella that you call 'Vaughan Williams' Dave I believe there was a signalman called Vaughan Bloom around the Hitchin area in the 1960s & early 1970s he maybe the bloke that you are referring to?.

With regards to both Dave & Jim Burnett if both of them are still around these days at a guess they must both be up in the 80s or possibly there 90s by now I would guess?.
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StevieG
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by StevieG » Wed Jun 19, 2019 2:10 pm

I fear both are now running that 'high-level' 'proper' railway by now Mickey.
I knew Jim quite well as signalman and that he went onto station Leading Railman work as boxes closed, as did another Hatfield Reliefman, Charlie Cooper, after Hatfield 2 (panel) closed as an 'everyday' box, and whom I think I recall latterly looking after the platform gardens at WGC. Another Reliefman who trod much the same path was the often popular Norman Greenwood, often on Potters Bar barrier, also was later at WGC, but eventually had to retire with premature deteriorating mental health problems.
I heard nothing of Jim after he disappeared from platform duties; probably 40-ish years ago.
I briefly met Dave around '68 when he was a Relief signalman around Hatfield and area. Never heard of him being in Control, but next encountered him as a fellow 'D' Power Box Assistant Supervisor in '77 but think he was doing that from its opening, in about '75, when the first areas that it took over were those of the panellised Gordon Hill and Hertford North boxes. He became one of the 'E' Supervisors in charge there in about 1980 and I think he may've still been doing that when I left nine years later. Subsequently retired but then quite a few years ago also suffered to conclusion similarly to Norman.
Signalman / later TTI Vaughan Bloom is still around AFAIK and has often attended the twice-yearly KX Area staff reunions.
BZOH

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Mickey
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by Mickey » Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:15 pm

An interesting post from you as always Stevie.

Relief signalman Charlie Cooper was a nice gentle 'old boy' with a soft Hertfordshire accent and was possibly about 60 years old in the early 1970s. My abiding memory of Charlie who's home station was Welwyn Garden City (although he never signed the box which seemed to bemuse one or two other signalmen) was of him pruning and tending to the flower beds at Welwyn Garden City station back in the early 1970s, in fact he may have spent more time doing the gardening at the station than pulling levers?. Ha ha ha...

As for relief signalman Norman Greenwood I had previously heard years ago that he had passed away but when he was about back in the early 1970s he was usually seen with a rucksack slung over his shoulder smoking a pipe and wearing glasses also what many people may not know according to what Norman told me himself was that he invented the 'rubber possession stamp' back in the 1960s the same possession stamp that signalmen would use when blocking lines under a possession which were used for very many years on the railway until the 2000s when T3 possession forms superseded the use of the possession stamps in the train register book. Before the invention of Norman's 'possession stamp' signalmen all over the railways would have to write in long hand an entry in the train register book whenever a possession of a line was taken. Also a personal memory of Norman was that he invited me into Harringay (passenger box) two days running around the early part of 1973 about six or seven months before the box finally closed in August 1973 and on saying to him that I had never seen a train being 'turned inside' at Harringay from the Down fast to Down slow no.1 line Norman said "Well lets right that and turn a train in off the Down fast line then?" which happened to be a semi-fast Rolls Royce DMU probably heading for Hitchin or Royston?. Also Norman was known for carrying around with him and using a thing he called 'the bug' which was a little transistor type radio that he wired up to the control phone so he could then hear all the other signalmen talking with the line controller which thinking about it was pretty inventive so he could hear what was happening up and down the line and what was going on with train regulating matters.

As for Vaughan Bloom I never met or knew him I only remember the name as I heard it mentioned once or twice when I was in Welwyn Garden City box back in 1972-74.

Yes you are probably right about both Dave and Jim Burnett Stevie they're probably not around anymore these days.
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Dave S
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by Dave S » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:10 pm

Mickey wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:00 am
also the fella that you call 'Vaughan Williams' Dave I believe there was a signalman called Vaughan Bloom around the Hitchin area in the 1960s & early 1970s he maybe the bloke that you are referring to?.
Of course it was Vaughan Bloom, Vaughan Williams was the composer...... :lol:

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StevieG
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by StevieG » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:50 pm

Norman's 'bug' wasn't a radio Mickey, but a commercially available telephone amplifier, having an inductive coil pick-up with attached suction cup, designed to stick onto the side of standard BT landline phones, picking up speech from the circuitry inside the phone, to perhaps benefit the hard of hearing or to allow those other than the one making/taking a call to hear the 'other end' of any conversation.
Norman had found that the effect you describe could be achieved by taking out the screw(s?) securing the front door of Control phones, opening the door and just putting the amplifier's pickup inside next to a certain coil.
Some Controllers knew about it and if they wanted to talk to him, just spoke his name on the circuit instead of ringing his box, and waited for him to come on to the circuit in response.
Last edited by StevieG on Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
BZOH

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Mickey
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by Mickey » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:47 am

StevieG wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:50 pm
Some Controllers knew about it and if they wanted to talk to him, just spoke his name on the circuit instead of ringing his box and waited for him to come on to the circuit in response.
Ha ha ha... yes you're dead right there Stevie your comment actually brings back a memory or two of Norman on the few occasions that he worked Welwyn Garden City when I was there and I was his telegraph lad and he had 'the bug' wired up and I would be 'on the book' and Norman would be working on the frame & block instruments and the chatter between the line controller and other signalmen would be heard coming from 'the bug' and either Norman would come off the lever frame and go to the control phone and pick it up and interrupt a conversation with a sharp comment of his own between the controller and another signalman then put the phone down or as you say the controller would just call his name and Norman would pick up the control phone and have a conversation with the controller.

Also while Norman had 'the bug' wired up sometimes you would hear Jim Burnett at New Southgate come on the control phone and make a funny noise or a silly comment then hang up that's how I know that Jim did that sort of thing ha ha ha...


Good old days and a bygone era on the railway that has passed into the mists of time...
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Mickey
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by Mickey » Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:22 pm

New Southgate box situated off the south end of the station between the Up fast & Up slow lines and for that reason the box was slightly on the narrow side with not much room to spare when a lever was reversed out of the frame and the back wall of the box also note the unusual Up fast line co-acting arms semaphore signals right outside the box. I visited the box towards the end of 1972 one afternoon when Jim Burnett was the signalman. The box was finally closed along with Cemetery box to the north of New Southgate station in February 1973.

The photograph below features a blue livered Deltic on a Up express possibly with the headcode 1A20 which usually came Up road during a weekday afternoon between 3:00-4:00pm in the London area and is about to pass New Southgate box circa 1970.

http://friern-barnet.com.s3.amazonaws.com/2813.jpg
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laurie1951
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by laurie1951 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 5:58 pm

As a box box /telegraph lad i well remember Jim Burnett . He was always on the Phone listening in and was a great on for chin wagging. I recall he went out relief for a while as he trained at Barnet north . He used to love to listen to the Radio in Particular Radio London the Pirate radio station . He would often ring somewhere and just put phone next to radio blairing out some pop tune. He was a character that's for sure . I do recall speaking with Brian Barr a few years ago, when i reconnected with Brian , and i asked about Jim Burnett , Brian said he was still around and said he went to the reunions at Hatfield . I think Brian also said Dave Burnett was also still around . Never new dave as well as Jim but i did meet him few times .
Good old days , i did re contact with Brian Barr about two years ago after losing contact for quite few years , but the contact did not carry on sadly . I heard somewhere recently on a forum that Brian still is around and goes to the Monthly reunions at Hatfield.lost of names on here that i recall So nice to see mention and some history of them and if they are around still .
A name that i've often wanted to find was a guy called Keith Challen who was a telegraph lad with me at Barnet North in 1967 . We both went different locations after Telegraph LAds were done away with At BN . Last i heard was he was a signalman at Hornsey then a guard at KX . Would love to find him and meet up with again after all these years .

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thesignalman
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by thesignalman » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:39 pm

StevieG wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:50 pm
Norman's 'bug' wasn't a radio Mickey, but a commercially available telephone amplifier, having an inductive coil pick-up with attached suction cup, designed to stick onto the side of standard BT landline phones, picking up speech from the circuitry inside the phone, to perhaps benefit the hard of hearing or to allow those other than the one making/taking a call to hear the 'other end' of any conversation.
Lots of us had those in those days - they weren't really "commercially available" as I had to go down to some dodgy shop in Kensington and be taken through to the back room to buy mine. You had to turn it off before picking up the phone, otherwise you got an earful of feedback.

I am sure still have it somewhere, in the "never know when it might come in useful" department.

John
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Mickey
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by Mickey » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:27 am

Norman Greenwood's 'bug' was a good idea in reality as it enabled him to listen in on train regulating matters on the control telephone circuit (and minor gossip) although I believe it may have been frowned on by signalling Inspectors of the day?.

Norman told me personally that he had invented the 'rubber possession stamp' back in the 1960s which he carried around with him in his rucksack along with a ink pad that signalmen use to stamp in the train register book and then fill out the details such as which line was BLOCKED under possession and between which signals and what time the possession was taken & given up?. That simple 'possession stamp' gained widespread use on the railways and was used for some 40 odd years before 'possession forms' superseded possession stamps in the train register book during the 2000s. Prior to Norman's 'possession stamp' signalmen had to write possession entries out in long hand in the train register book.
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StevieG
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Re: Dave & Jim Burnett

Post by StevieG » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:58 pm

thesignalman wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:39 pm
Lots of us had those in those days - they weren't really "commercially available" as I had to go down to some dodgy shop in Kensington and be taken through to the back room to buy mine. You had to turn it off before picking up the phone, otherwise you got an earful of feedback.

I am sure still have it somewhere, in the "never know when it might come in useful" department.

John

Thanks John : No reason to disbelieve you on how to obtain them. I don't recall how I got mine. Mail order perhaps.
BZOH

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