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"Me pigs! Me pigs!"

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Another true story from the west.

It's the mid 1940s, and Sligo has reported a loco with several faults. Authority deems it necessary to take it to Limerick for repairs. Our man Billy, the driver, a staunch Southern man (i.e. GSWR / Burma Road origin, not MGWR!) is tasked with taking the engine from either Tuam or Athenry - I don't remember exactly. It had travelled under its own steam light from Sligo, and the driver getting off warns Billy that the brakes aren't great - this, in fact is one of several faults reported. 

To his disdain, Billy finds that the loco is an ex-MGWR type. He has driven them before, but rarely, and isn't impressed. It was actually a J18, the Midland's answer to the GSWR's J15s, and by most accounts, just as good. Billy doesn't like driving from the other side, a feature of Midland engines.

"Well, I got up onto it and we got the road. I had been told to take it handy because the brakes weren't the best order. I crawled past gate crossings because sometimes when it was a light engine the woman in the cottage mightn't be expecting you, and several gates were closed as I approached them, but I slowed right down and whistled like mad and they opened them.

Near Gort, there was this crossing and the gates were across the track. I whistled like mad, long and hard, and no sign of yer woman. I knew her well. She kept pigs and a few hens in a patch on the lineside. I slowed, but now the brakes wouldn't hold the engine and we drifted up towards the gate. We were only walking pace. I sez to the fireman, "I can't hold her", and just then yer wan comes chargin' out of the house in her bare feet and apron, straight in front of the engine, shouting all over the place "Me pigs! Me pigs! Me pigs!". There were two of them on the track. She got the pigs shoved off to one side and I went through the gates. I tell ye, I'd give her pigs all right..... I gave her a right piece of my mind.

Those oul Midland engines, they were no good. Broadstone hadn't a clue how to look after them. Limerick was ok - there were still a few old Waterford men about. But if you wanted a job done properly, you had to send it to Inchicore. I never liked Midland engines, yet when I drove the up day mail from Galway for years, it was always a Woolwich... they were good engines......

That engine, that day, I heard, was taken to Inchicore about six months later and scrapped."

Will tales like that emerge in sixty years time about ICRs and CAFs? I doubt it...!

Edited by jhb171achill
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12 minutes ago, heirflick said:

Love them ould yarns!=D


That man had quite a few!

It recalls many others I was told years ago by various old railwaymen, including jhbSenior and others...... priceless stuff.....

Senior recalled a cattle special being shunted in Enniskillen about 1953. Several Sligo Leitrim wagons were at the very front of a heavy train (which would mostly have been GNR or CIE stock). The leading one was somewhat tatty looking - clearly, it had seen better days. They backed up the loco to take it to Belfast, and awaited the road. The signal dropped, the loco whistled, and started to move. The loco moved all right, but the train stayed where it was. The drawgear on the front wagon was pulled clean off!

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Great story Jonathan. Taking over a Midland Standard Goods or a much larger Cattle Engine for the first time could open many traps for an un-suspecting ex-GSWR driver at Tuam or Athenry.

The ex-MGWR "Standard Goods" GSR J18 & 19 classes were supposed to be roughly equivalent to a J15 in terms of performance, but required different driving technique with their smaller firebox and valve gear design. They also had a reputation of having weak loco brakes, originally the locos were built with steam brakes and converted to vacuum which was less effective by the GSR.

The reversing gear on the Cattle Engines was set up opposite to standard practice, a driver literally had to put the loco in what was normally reverse to go forward, potentially setting up a deadly trap for shunters and guards.

There were a few crippled wagons with ripped out ends and drawgear on the CIE system even into the late 1970s, including a H Van on the headshunt/layby at the Eastern end of Moate and a GNR(I) standard van in the yard at Patrickswell along with a marked off CIE 20T goods van. Presumably such wagons were not considered worth repairing or hauling to Mullingar for scrapping and were burned/scrapped when the sidings were lifted

Edited by Mayner
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On 28/12/2017 at 8:48 AM, minister_for_hardship said:

One thing I can't understand. I assume MGW locos were driven from 'the other side' IE rhs like GWR locos.

Why on earth were they designed that way when most signals were sited on the left?

Absolutely no idea, minister! Good point....

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