We are - the good old days recalled by David Cook.
The idea was to travel on all of the branch lines in Cornwall during the week which I think we achieved.
In addition to this we paid a visit to St. Blazey depot on the Tuesday and made ourselves known to the Supervisor (the late Chris Coombes if my memory is correct). Having explained who we were and our involvement with the restoration of 4566 in 1975 we were made very welcome. Chris saying at the time that 4566 was well known as being a Cornwall based engine. We were given permission to explore the site with the proviso that the only thing we were not to do was go between/under any wagons for obvious reasons.
Word had obviously got around as whilst we were in the vicinity of the turntable we were “accosted” by a driver (I believe his name was Wallace Matthews) who entered into a fairly lengthy conversation with us. His parting shot being, “the best thing to happen to steam engines was getting rid of them”! We were all taken aback by this at the time but accepted that to some, working on steam engines was hard work. A little later he returned and asked which of us was on the footplate on the SVR, to which I replied that I was a fireman and that Trevor was a trainee fireman. He said you had better have these then and proceeded to give me some gauge and lubricator glasses and a copy of The Blue Book of Rules for Enginemen and Fireman (which I still possess to this day). When I asked him why he still had these items if he hated steam so much he smiled and said, “Well, they must have dropped to the bottom of my locker and I forgot all about them!!!
He asked us what we were doing the next day and said if we were interested he was driving a late afternoon passenger train up to Plymouth and we were welcome to have a ride in the cab if we wanted. I think you can probably guess what we said.
Returning to the main offices we saw Chris Coombes again to thank him for his hospitality and to our amazement were asked if we would be interested in a trip up the Wenford Branch on the Thursday. There as an immediate acceptance of the offer on our part with the agreement that we were to wait at Dunmere Crossing for the train at an agreed time.
Wednesday saw us at Penzance at the due time prior to departure to be told by Wallace that there was a rumour that a Loco Inspector had been seen out and about in the area. So, we were told to travel in the train and if he wasn’t about when we got to St. Erth our cab ride was a goer. Fortunately, he wasn’t and we travelled on 46014 (long gone, although Trevor did see it once at Hereford whilst out chasing a steam special)) to Par where despite being offered the full ride to Plymouth we had to detrain as we decided that getting back to Penzance very late at night could have been problematic.
Thursday as arranged saw us at Dunmere Crossing awaiting our ride. After some time a railwayman (Shunter or Guard?) appeared and asked if we were waiting to see the train. We told him what had been arranged with Chris Coombes and were somewhat taken aback when we were told that due to a funeral that day they had worked two trains the previous day to enable one of the usual crew to attend. You can imagine our disappointment but then we were told to wait and see what could be arranged. About 20 minutes later we were greeted by the sound of an approaching 08 diesel shunter, 08113 and brake van. Are you the lads who were supposed to have a trip up the branch today asked the Driver (Trevor tells me this was John Ferret)? Yes was the reply, well hop up in the cab and I’ll take you up the branch. We asked why the train was running having been told that there was no wagons to collect to be informed that if it got back to St.Blazey we hadn’t had our trip there might be some explaining to do!
So, of we went trundling up the branch, stopping at Helland Bridge to pick up a family (I think they might have had a holiday let?) who rode in the brake van. When we arrived at Wenford we had the opportunity to have a look around before returning back to Dunmere Crossing.
Whilst I am no longer actively involved with the SVR, Trevor is and is now responsible for overseeing and maintaining the 08 fleet at Kidderminster. He tells me that there is a link to 08113 still, this being that he purchased parts from 08113 including the exhauster cut out valve and a vacuum brake control rod that links the two brake valves in the cab and which have been subsequently fitted to D3201. 08113 was owned by RMS Locotec and was broken up in Leeds after being withdrawn/condemned.
It’s amazing that two photographs can bring back happy memories of a fantastic holiday now some 42 years ago!
Those were the good old days.