Jump to content

A true story; and "serves you right" anecdote for the stingy!

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

This was recounted to me by a now-deceased former driver, the only living flesh and blood I ever spoke with, who was able to tell me he started his railway career under the GSWR, not GSR or CIE! I met Billy at my first ever book launch in 2002, and at that time he was (I think) 98.  He would live, in full command of his mental and most physical faculties, to see 103. Now, he resides in that Great Locomotive Shed in the sky, where all is, of course, GSWR - none of that NCC or GNR or MGWR nonsense.

"I was in Tuam. The allocation was six 101 class*, and I was told to polish this one till it shone on my first night. I made sure you could see the lining everywhere it was**. Years later, I was driver and once a month, the time of Ennis fair, a light engine and van had to go to Sligo to collect empty cattle wagons. We'd bring about 40 of them down to Ennis and run on through to the Junction***. We stayed in the dorm and went back next day to collect the full ones from the fair.  I didn't always get this job, but one time when I did, we arrived in Sligo and the cattle guard who came onto the van was a big, big tall fella, I forget his name. We picked up a few wagons there and a few more at places like Swinford and Tubbercurry, and we had to wait in Tubbercurry while the up and down trains crossed us. I think a goods crossed us too. So we were looped there for a good while. We got the fry going on the footplate. I had a loaf and the fireman had a pound of rashers. Anyway, we're getting the tea going and the guard comes along the track, and he sez to us "Lads, I'm starving, would you ever have a few rashers?"

I invited him up - certainly, we have, I said, take a few. Well, he scoffed almost the lot. I thought he's a big lad, and must have been really hungry, so we let it go and arrived in Ennis later that day absolutely starved. A couple of months later, I was on that run again and didn't the same man do the same thing. Ate us out of house and home. I then discovered he had a reputation. He would take anything anyone gave him, and make himself scarce when it was his turn. He counted his money. He would borrow money and not pay it back. He would try to avoid paying for things he was supposed to pay for. I decided to teach him a lesson.

Next month, I put myself forward for that run. The foreman was surprised, because nobody liked doing that cattle run. We pulled into Tubbercurry to cross the up and down, and we got the fry and the tea on as usual. Along came the guard. I sez to him, "sure, c'mon up, we've loads and I've eaten already". We had two packs of rashers. One was really nice stuff from the local butcher, but the other pack was old. There was a green sheen on the rashers - they were going off, maybe beginning to rot. Myself and the fireman, we had had the good ones. We did the whole pack of the others - a pound of them, I'm sure - and didn't yer man eat the whole lot. Well, he went back to his van.

Later that day, we pulled into Athenry, and the wagons were hunting **** and the brake was slow coming on. I thought there's something up with the brake, so I went down to the van. Well, yer man was leaning over the balcony of the brake van, white as a sheet. There was vomit all over the floor of the van. He could hardly stand. He'd got severe food poisoning.

He never came near us again".

- A worthy cautionary tale for those who take a drink, but vanish when it's their round!  


*  J15s. It seems that any ex-WLWR locos had been taken elsewhere by this time - about 1935 / 40.

**  I thought initially "locos didn't have lining".... then I realised - he was talking about 1918/20; they were only starting to paint them all grey - he obviously had one still in pre-1915 GSWR lined black!

***  Limerick Junction.

****  "Hunting" meant jerking back and forth; these were loose-coupled wagons, of course. The guard's job was to manually manage the brake impeding wagons as they ran down hill with the brake wheel - skills entirely lost nowadays with boring air-braked unit trains!

Edited by jhb171achill
  • Like 2
  • Funny 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use