Fringe Box



Railwayman in Firing Line for the First Time Since 1967!

Published on: 14 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 24 Oct, 2012

Retired railwayman Geoff Burch has had the chance to do again what he did back in the 1960s – shovel coal into the firebox of a steam locomotive.

Geoff Burch shovels coal into the firebox of ‘Lord Nelson’ on the Mid-Hants Railway.

At the Mid-Hants Railway recently Geoff was invited on to the footplate of former Southern Railway locomotive ‘Lord Nelson‘ and ‘fired’ the grand old lady on the heritage line between Alton and Alresford.

Last year Geoff, from Worplesdon, wrote and published his first book all about his time in the 1960s working on steam engines in and around the Guildford area on the Southern Region of British Railways. The book, The Ramblings of a Railwayman, has been a great success, and that has prompted a follow up, Further Ramblings of Railwaymen, that will be launched on Friday, November 16. More details further on.

On the footplate. Geoff Burch is pictured third from left.

Geoff said: “I was invited to the Mid-Hants by Bob Cartwright who has been a driver there for many years. He has also written a chapter in my new book as he was a fireman at Eastleigh motive power depot before becoming a driver at Waterloo and retiring from South West Trains as a driver based at Woking.

“The trip involved runing light loco from Ropley to Alresford and working a train from there to Alton and return. I hadn’t picked up a firing shovel since I got off BR Standard Class 5MT, 73155, at Salisbury on the last day of steam, Sunday July 9, 1967. But it came as natural as riding a bike!

“The rest of the crew said that I must have had some practice, but I assured them that it was true and they were suitably impressed. It was a fantastic day out and it brought back many happy memories.

“The locomotive was Lord Nelson class, 850, ‘Lord Nelson‘, and although I’d prepared one or two of this type of loco at Nine Elms motive power depot when ‘on loan’ there in my early firing career, it was the first time that I’d fired to one out the move.”

The cover of Geoff’s new book, Further Ramblings of Railwaymen.

Further Ramblings of Railwaymen (£25) will be launched on Friday, November 16, at Guildford Museum, between 11am and 4pm. Light refreshments will be provided and Geoff will be signing copies of the book.

The book contains stories, anecdotes and previously unpublished photographs from Geoff’s work colleagues at Guildford, Eastleigh, Salisbury and Weymouth.

Geoff’s first book, The Rambings of a Railwayman, is exceptional value at £20. It can be ordered direct from Geoff by sending him an email to:

Alternatively, if you are in Guildford, drop into Ben’s Collector’s Records in Tunsgate where copies of the book are always in stock.

Click here to see previous story on this website all about Geoff and his first book.

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