Thursday, 8 May 2014

A Volunteer's Story - Ron Dobson

Ron has been a member of the Broadway Area Group for many years now. A gentleman of the old school he has come to Broadway to clean bricks, fair wind and foul, and often when he might have  reasonably been at home enjoying a cup of tea! Ron always has an interesting anecdote to tell - here is his story:-

Bill, you prompted me to write a Volunteer's Story. It is a privilege but to be called an elder statesman is rather frightening. Being in my 80th year now, I am just happy to be associated with a fine BAG organisation and it's purpose. 

My steam locomotive interest started just after WW2 when in 1946 I passed the 11plus(?),or whatever it was, to attend Wandsworth School, a grammar school just along the road from the famous Wimbledon tennis courts. My daily journey to school from my home in Fulham to Southfields was on the London's District Line. Part of the line was used by the Southern Railway with an odd freight train. When returning home I usually saw the daily 'milk' train which passed through Southfields returning milk wagons from London. It was usually hauled by a 'Maunsell King Arthur' class locomotive. That did it, the smell of smoke, steam and hot oil from the engine as it sped through the station gave me the excitement which I have treasured for life. 
Adventure stirred in me at my tender age of 11/12 years. I boldly went to the main London termini, like many others did. Victoria was my first port of call to see Merchant Navy class 'Bulleid' locomotives starting their 'Continental' train duties. The noted being 21C 1  (Channel Packet) which was the forerunner of the ' Golden Arrow' train. Other frequent trips particularly to Paddington gave me the instinct for GWR.

With a school chum, it wasn't long before we ventured to the magnificent Old Oak Common MPD with it's 4 internal turntables and a shed roster of 208 locomotives. A wonderland for a steam enthusiast. I made many regular visits to see what was new in. However, the Southern Railway was always appealing so Nine Elms, Stewarts Lane, Bricklayers Arms MPDs, and others quickly came within my compass. As time passed, with our books becoming full of 'cops', we started monthly away-day excursions to MPDs and works such as Ashford (Kent), Eastleigh, and even Swindon. We only went on a Sunday when the sheds were full. They were great days, not a diesel in sight.

Nationalisation had taken place by then (1st Jan 1948) and we had new numbers and shed codes to contend with. Not daunted with the increased fascination, we ventured further and joined the YHA . We used their hostels as a base on annual tours to the rest of the previously unexplored parts of the Western and Southern regions. We also made a successful visit to the Crewe sheds and works. A visit to the Isle of Wight railways and a day in Southampton docks was also enjoyed.

Alas, it all come to a gradual end when I had to do a job which was in the coal distributive trade. HM soon called for my services in the RAF and I had to lump it. My journeys home on leave by steam train were usually with LM Jubilee locomotives in charge but they were always late. I also had met my wife to be. Not a horrible thought, but if I had realised at the time that it would last for an ongoing 57 years, it might have been. Two fine children but since we settled in the midlands and I employed by the National Coal Board, I have been busy with a wide variety of interests. Since the demise of the British Coal Industry, I have had more time and became involved with the Preservation Society of 6024 'King Edward 1', for many years on the sales team selling souvenirs to passengers on main line tours.

My railway interests have not stopped but I think I must conclude here. It has been a great  pleasure to tell my story. Now I look forward to the first train into our rebuilt Broadway station with fare paying passengers. My hope is that it is brought in behind a proud GWR locomotive such as a GWR 'King'? - Who knows.

Thanks Ron

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know whether a King Class Locomotive ever traversed the Honeybourne Line in GWR/BR days or in the early 70's preservation years?