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Life in a Loco Works

Life in a Loco Works

Regular price £7.00 £0.00 Unit price per

Life in a steam locomotive works was hard, and at times dangerous, with little or no opportunity for even a short break during the long hours. Here a working environment completely different from that of today is described from first-hand experience, by Charles Taylor, who served his apprenticeship in the world-famous Crewe Works during the Second World War.

The railway town of Crewe was dominated by the two-mile long sprawl of its locomotive works, which dated back to the 1840s. At one time. employing 20,000 people, working conditions were crude by today's standards and injuries common. Many workshop practices, processes and machines had been specially evolved to suit the nature of the work of building and maintaining a large fleet of steam locomotives. Over the years a wide variety of skills had been developed by the workforce, which also possessed a fascinating blend of traditions, customs and even language, unique to Crewe.

At the bottom of the grades was the new apprentice. However interesting building steam locomotives might be, before graduating to the erecting shop came many more mundane tasks - for example, making nuts and bolts, grinding in steam valves, facing brake valves, removing burr after burr and filing cab window frames. During the author's apprenticeship there was no shortage of variety in the work, with time spent in the machine, welding and boiler shops, as well as several weeks in the open air repairing Crewe North shed coaling plant the contents of which went up in flames! The pattern shop and foundry were an oasis of calm and a dusty desert respectively, while the millwrights taught improvisation and increased responsibility.

The erecting shop, where the basic tools were a hammer and a chisel, gave the opportunity to work on locomotives - fitting motion and lubricating pipes, working on sand gear, cabs, reversing gear and slidebars, and watching 70 tons of steam engine hanging overhead, while crouching underneath to guide axleboxes into horns.

Born and brought up in Crewe, Charles Taylor is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He has contributed widely to the technical and railway enthusiast press, is Locomotive Adviser to the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust and lectures on what it was like to work on the LMS and British Railways in the days of steam. His story forms a unique social commentary on two bygone institutions - the steam railway and apprenticeships.

Hardback with dust jacket, 16x24cm, 184 pages, black & white photographs

Condition: Good/Very Good with mild toning to edges of pages

ISBN: 9780860935308

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Updated: 2 April 2024