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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Train Drivers

Today I have been painting the iron strap-work of the wagon and there have been a steady stream of visitors - including two train drivers, one from the UK and one from Germany.

The UK driver, Roger Thomas, works the schoolboy's dream of a route - from Bristol to London, Paddington - Brunel's Great Western flagship line.   His railway career went back to the days of goods trains consisting of trucks like ours.   It was fascinating to hear of the dangers of operating these unfitted freights - in other words no continuous brakes.   At the top of one very steep descent the banksman, whose job it was to set the hand brakes on enough wagons to keep the train from running away had not applied enough braking force.   Roger was the fireman and their runaway train, which should have descended the bank at 15 mph was gaining speed rapidly.   When the runaway train got to 50 mph his driver declared that he was going to jump.   Roger decided that he was staying put.   He said he had never been so frightened in his life.   They both stayed in their cab and after a hair raising ride on twisty track they regained control.   He was not sorry to see the back of unfitted freights and much prefers his high speed train to Paddington.

The second was Anton Hofmann, a recently retired driver on the German railways.   He had served for 40 years and was now a tour guide specialising in railway tours.   To my delight he presented me with a miniature medal of the Gewerkschaft der Eisenbahner Deutschlands (GED) - left.   He said I could consider myself an honorary member for the work done at the water tower and on the truck.   An honour indeed.

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