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Snapshot of Heuston, 1977

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jhb171achill
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Another one of these past sunny days; they always seem to have been forever, or at least hotter than today, but in reality were rarely as good as the last two weeks here now!

 

I walked along St John's Road, then a road rather than the cross that it is today between a dual carriageway, motorway, and (during rush hour) a car park. The "Guinness" gates were open, and lorries busily ferried the black stuff into the yard, while a gantry crane load it onto the four wheeled "Lancashire flats" for onward transmission to the thirsty of Belfast, Cork, Galway, Ballina, Limerick, Tralee, and many other places. A short time earlier I had watched same being unload at Kilkenny and Clonmel..

 

I had no hard hat, steel capped boots, or day glo vest; the latter was decades away from being invented. Railway staff wore - you'd better sit down for this one - ordinary clothes or railway uniforms. Really. As true as I do sit here, m'lud. Nobody challenged me, I just wandered about, camera in hand.

 

Here's what I saw that day. One of those brand new giant B class yokes - 071s, they are called. Up he came out of platform 2 with the down Cork, packed Mk 2's, or as we just called them at the time, AC stock. Roaring past, in La Grange's brown version of CIE's orange, clean as a whistle. It was 071 itself, with about 9 behind it.

 

Another passenger train arrived with an "A" up front. It comprised a couple each of Cravens and laminates, and about 4 Park Royals, with a Dutch van at one end.

 

Over in what was then platform 3, another "class leader", 121, paired another of its class on what I believe was a down Limerick train. In any event, both 121s were straight our of the paint shop, and they looked well with their own set of Mk 2s, all in "supertrain" livery. In came an up Waterford, another brown and black 071 (none had yet received "proper" orange), and lets have a look now, what's pottering about the yard?

 

Three "E"s, one in the Guinness sidings, another lifting arrivals out of the platform roads to allow the train engine to charge back up to Inchicore, and another over in the goods yard. How do I know that?

 

Because, camera in hand, I slipped across the main running lines in between trains, in my soft shoes and denim jacket, and off I went over to the goods yard to see.

 

Wagons abounded outside the goods office, now the IRRS HQ. The whole area from outside it, road included, and all the car park and new platforms was all sidings. Mostly there were "H" vans, with a good few corrugated opens in between. The vans we about 40% grey, the rest brown. One or two of the grey ones still had "snails", and many had destinations chalked on their doors.

 

To complete the picture, one derelict "tin van" and a couple of good operational ones sat in the vicinity, and at the end of one siding, a corrugated open rested at a drunken angle off the track, where it had overrun a weed grown buffer stop...

 

Back to the station to buy a packet of crisps and a tin of coca cola (about 30p for both) and a navy and cream half cab double decker back into town. I would maybe take a jaunt out to Howth on a push pull the next day, and get some "C" action....

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In the days when I went over by train, I would usually arrive at Heuston in time to catch a Cork train that didn't stop at Ballybrophy, so, rather than go to Templemore and come back, I would wait for the half eight, which did stop there. I used to take stuff over in a 'disposable suitcase' - a cardboard box, strapped up, that I didn't have to bring back, empty - on some occasions it would weigh as much as seventy pounds. I would get it to the platform gate and then watch the goings on, whilst the first train loaded and went. On one occasion, I was chatting to the ticket chap, just as the gate was about to close before departure, when he suddenly said "Hang on to that and don't let anybody past!" and threw me his ticket punch as he sprinted down the platform and disappeared into the ticket hall. Moments later, he re-appeared at full speed, carrying two cases, and being followed, as fast as he could, by the 'city gent' that he'd spotted hurrying to get a ticket that would have made him miss the train. The cases were put in through the last door on the train, closely followed by the wheezing gent - "They'll sell you a ticket on the train and it'll cost you the same", he said, as the train moved off, on time.

 

On another occasion, I presented my Stafford-Ballybrophy return ticket and was told "I'm not stamping that. It must be unique!", as it was handed back in pristine condition...

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Staff did do this sort of thing back then, broithe.... I remember a guard on the Enterprise asking, at the height of the "Troubles" at Dundalk, "who owns this bag?"... Nobody owned up. Normally, cue a bomb scare as the train was evacuated and bomb disposal arrived. In this case, the guard shrugged, picked it up (while we passengers prayed to the Almighty) and carried it off to his BR van.

 

Even the Enterprise itself at that stage comprised laminates and Park Royals, because CIE didn't want good Mk 2s blown up at the border!

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