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A little help from my friends – (2)

Friday, March 5 2010

by Phill Davison

40122 at Ramsbottom Station on the East Lamcs Railway, Phill Davison at the controls. Photo Phill Davison archive.

(Click image for details of licensing and to view original on flickr.)

We have already featured Phill Davison’s stunning photography. Phill also pushes an evocative pen. This is his tale of what happened when he and his friend, both aged 15, missed their last train home from Manchester Victoria to Leeds on a very cold, December, Saturday night in 1983.

Andy and I had missed the last train to Leeds from Manchester. It was near midnight when we arrived at the station. There was no prospect of catching a train until 8 the next morning. We were only 15 at the time, been stranded in Manchester in the wee small hours wasn’t recommended in those days.

Andy was going away camping with the ‘208 Air cadet squadron’ the next day.  That wasn’t going to happen if we couldn’t get back in time.

The station was now empty of passengers, the last service trains had long since gone. A feeling of despair descended upon us!

But the station came alive again after midnight, the place bustled busy with the newspaper trains. Manchester Victoria has one of the longest platforms in Britain. They used to be able to pull three full trains onto one platform to load them. This night they were all class 40 hauled. (They usually were.) The noise of the whistling engines combined was loud.

A class 25 was parked in the Bury bay platforms, It’s Sulzer engine spluttering away under the cavernous station canopy. The leading train had 40177 up front, we went up and asked the driver where he was going. It was Newcastle bound he said, but they were Holbeck men and would be coming off at Leeds.

ACE… we thought!

We told them our sob story, The driver and second man both said they’d take us back to Leeds, but we would have to ask the station supervisor if it was OK. The second man pointed down the platform to some stairs leading up to offices above the platform. He told us we needed to see the ‘Scottish bloke’ but he was a bit of a miserable old git, he’ll probably say no.

So off we went, polishing our sob story on the way, it was pretty obvious the guy was an old misery from first glance, we thought we had no chance, he didn’t look very friendly at all. Things weren’t looking good! We finished off our tale, he looked us up and down a bit, then slammed his cup of tea down on the desk. ‘Come with me he’ growled, and off he stormed down the platform, my mate and I chasing after him in hot pursuit…

Read the rest of Phill’s story, here:

Read Phill’s photographic tribute to the Class 40s, here:

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