To understand the mind-set of someone awoken from their slumbers before 5 o'clock in the morning, picture yourself leaving home whilst the rest of the world peacefully sleeps. Leaving home early is a trait that is inevitable with steam locomotives, particularly the big ones. In order to get up a good head of steam and carry out all of the necessary preparation tasks without making yourself late for the engines first duty, punctuality is key. I used to like to get in 30 minutes or so earlier than necessary, giving me that little bit of spare time that one would give all the money in the world for later on in the day. Arriving at Shackerstone when even the birds had barely risen, the first task was to grease up your hands opening the gates and then trundle the short distance to the station car park. The usual juggling act of carrying all of your kit along the dimly lit M6 widening of the ash pathway was then endured before falling gracefully through the door of the engine shed...
|"The NRM T9 Steams Up" (April 2013)|
|"A Good Warming Fire in 3803" (2014)|
|"A Gloomy Grate Whilst Rocked in 3803" (2012)|
|"The Then Trainee Me On 1306" (2009)|
|"The Beattie Well Tank - 30585" (March 2013)|
|"323 On Shed" (2014)|
|"The Shining Black Five 45379 at Shenton" (Sep 2012)|
|"An Austerity On Shed" (September 2015)|
Once the engine was off shed: fired up, checked, oiled and cleaned: it was over to you and the driver to make things happen. Maybe I'll revisit some posts and talk about driving and firing the line one day, but not in this one. Some drivers drove them like they weren't just hobbyists, but like they'd known the engines all of their lives and had some unusual affinity with them whilst others drove them with all the finesse of a house brick crashing through your front room window - everyone was different. Some drivers you could set your watch to; every movement and action, allowing you to fire accordingly and thus economically. Others seemed to think they were on a different railway each trip with some seemingly envisaging a King with 13-on topping Dainton Bank whilst the next trip would be a horse drawn wagon-way re-enactment at nothing more than 10mph. I personally liked the previous Drivers! All these recollections show though is that everyone is different and peoples varying perceptions of the steam locomotive create different actions. I've met some wonderful characters doing what I do and have many fond memories to show for it on some beautiful pieces of kit including the T9, the Black Five and the various Great Western examples...
|"4141 Steaming Up" (March 2015)|