Sunday 20 October 2013

A Volunteer's Story - Jim Graham

I  met Jim Graham on my first day a Broadway. He was our guide and mentor as we started clearance work on the Station Site. He was a great example to the half dozen novices who turned up to help. He epitomised the pioneering spirit of the GWR, as was.  He led from the front and was able to single handily, do all the jobs the rest of us struggled to do. All this was achieved with great humour and many  a railway anecdote!  Jim gave me the tip off for the Mythe bricks.

Here is Jim's story:

Got the steam bug in 1959 when I used to watch the Tewkesbury Flyer into Ashchurch Station while all the other lads would be spotting the big stuff .One day the driver asked if I would like a footplate ride, It turned out he used to keep pigs with my father. One thing led to another and I spent two long hot summers with the Tewkesbury based crew I made the tea, fired and was often allowed to take the regulator to Upton-on-Seven. Hard to believe but that's how it was back then.  I still get that look when I tell this story but what joy, one day I bought "The Last Days of Steam in Gloucestershire" by Ben Ashworth and there in black and white yours truly aged ten posing on the footplate at Tewkesbury Station looking the part in Grease Top. 


When I left school I took a bricklaying apprenticeship and did a number of years in the building trade until a bad  motorcycle accident terminated that occupation, apparently there was no great call for one arm bricklayers(can't think why).
However, this turn of events resulted in a rewarding 40 year career with the MOD the last 13  as a Regional Rail Manager for Defence Rail overseeing railway operations at Bicester,Kineton, Ashchurch, Caerwent. 


I first noticed the GWR about two years after its conception. I joined and and went back on the trowel. First task to build platform two at Toddington with Pat Green & Co. We then moved onto the waiting room on platform two totally rebuilding the front wall which was very badly frost damaged. All  had to be done sympathetically and of course as the Broadway group know only to well, each imperial brick needs to be found, transported and cleaned. I too remember laying track through the night Terry. Those were the days all very exciting. The building department would tackle just about anything including major works on bridges. Once the Manpower services project ran out of steam at Winchcombe we moved on to finish Troy Monmouth Station which was only up to the window sills and the construction of platform two plus bays and water crane pit. Next it was back to Toddington in order to remodel and extend the Flag and Whistle if I remember correctly this was done to keep Tewkesbury Borough Council happy following a planning issue. Next came more bridge work then we moved on to Cheltenham we straightened up and rebuilt number one platform as best we could and built the large sewage treatment pit adjacent to the platform station building. It was at this point that contractors moved in to build the new station building and the two new signal boxes  I didn't like the structures much didn't like the use of contractors however, I thought that i had done my bit on the trowel and after a short break to get my own property sorted I joined the P/Way Dept, Yes I found it hard work and there's lots of walking but I enjoy it and there a great bunch of lads with lots of expertise. At about this point Garry Owen (then Chairman of the GWR Plc) asked me to start the Broadway rebuild. I went into it with two simple objectives give the new team all the essentials they needed to start the project a water supply, power and accommodation. My next objective was build platform one. We were getting on well until politics intervened so unfortunately my time there was far to short. I met some fantastic people at Broadway and you could not find a better group leader than Bill Britton who has done a fantastic job.
 So it was back to P/Way where I've been ever since. It's amazing how many people you meet along the way and how helpful they can be. Therefore a big thank you to them all. I know I've missed out loads but Bill did say about an A4 please. The railway has given me 30 years of pleasure. Regrets I have a few, but that would take a lot more than an A4.


Jim (G)

Cheers Jim


Anonymous said...

Top man that Jim Graham, I have nothing but admiration and respect for him.

Bert Ferrule

Anonymous said...

Good life history. Keep them coming.

Vic Smith

Dave Danger said...

Whole heartedly agree with Mr. Ferrule. Jim's a pretty good cook as well for the gang. We enjoy the grub,