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July- dated issue

Discussion in 'The Railway Magazine' started by ipod, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. ipod

    ipod New Member

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    I’ve only just had my copy of this issue and on the whole I found it excellent…. Some great images and quite a few interesting articles…. I wish Cliff had been a little more daring with his Snailbeach article but nevertheless, it contained all the necessary hints!

    The bits I didn’t like were the Waterman contributions…. all three of them in the “Headline News” section…. In short, it is all provocative garbage with one purpose in mind, to shock and provoke your readership! Quotes like “the days of mainline steam are numbered” and “the standard of firing on preserved railways is appalling” …. then you have the full page advert for a “free” DVD which will feature “an exclusive hard hitting and often controversial interview” given away with next months issue…. Did RM actually fork out money for this interview? … does he need it? …. And more importantly, do we the readership need his damming condemnation?…. Well I certainly don’t and I wont be purchasing it.

    The “forty years on” DVD could have been so compelling had RM chosen to interview someone who was actually involved at the time and experienced the emotion, but no, RM has chosen to interview someone who was in America and involved with Fleetwood Mac at that time!
     
  2. RM Staff

    RM Staff New Member

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    Interesting views, but then Pete is known for his forthright and controversial views, which I hope will provoke debate through the columns of The RM.

    Your point on interviewing someone from 40 years ago who was involved is an interesting an valid one, and I suspect it may be difficult to find the right person who would still have the recollection, and would be happy to face a camera and a barrage of questions for seveal hours.

    Rather than trot out something that everyone has seen before in the form of acrhive film and commentary, we decided on something different.

    However, rather than read the stories and judge, why not make your mind up when you have seen the finished DVD?
     
  3. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Member

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    Because you haven't sold it well enough to him. You are a company, Mark is the consumer, why should he buy your dvd or watch it? It's up to you to convince him to watch it rather than the other way round.
     
  4. RM Staff

    RM Staff New Member

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    We seem to have done the opposite to convincing him - even if the DVD is free with all UK copies. Oh well.

    If I recall the Pendolino speed run DVD, which suffered from a production fault and also contained an expletive we asked to be removed but wasn't, might not appeal to everyone, but we still get a number of requests each month for a copy, 18 months on.
     
  5. ipod

    ipod New Member

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    I think you are right in not being too worried.... one lost sale will no doubt be more that compensated for by additional sales to PWL fanatics….

    You do produce a very good magazine... I look foward to the September edition! ;-)
     
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Well, I could have provided you with a list of the phone numbers and addresses of a good couple of dozen railwaymen from Lostock Hall, Rose Grove and Carnforth all of whom would have been only too pleased to be interviewed.

    Indeed, the 40th Anniversary being the ‘big one’ for me – indeed, far more so than Shildon or Bold - I myself have spent the last six months doing not much else but talking to ex-steam footplatemen and enthusiasts directly involved in the events of 1968 and all that (the REAL one, not the disgraceful apology recently on offer in York!) and, as yet, I've only begun to scratch the surface, such is the diversity of information that continues to emerge. Does anyone, for example, know the names of all the footplate crews involved in the last day of steam or in 1T57? Someone must!

    I was at a retirement 'do' in Lostock Hall a few weeks ago and was amazed at how far some of the railwaymen present had travelled to attend, merely to meet up with former colleagues once again and to talk over old times.

    The major problem as I see it is that, although most of those now able to personally remember the end of steam were teenagers or in their early twenties at the time, the idols of admiration for these folk were much older - many drivers, for example, already approaching retirement age way back in 1968. Every month now, or so it seems, it is a sad fact that news arrives of yet another ex-footplateman, that we knew personally 40 years back, having passed away.

    Let's face it, none of us is getting any younger and unless someone very shortly starts to make some very positive moves towards documenting for posterity the human aspect of the steam age railway, much valuable material inevitably will be lost. As much as we all have the greatest of respect for the preservation movement of the 21st Century, the doubtless well-intended moves to re-create as closely as possible how things were in the 1960s, does not even come close.

    For some today, arranging for an engine to be specially 'dirtied' for 'authenticity' during the running of a totally artificial and very stage-managed charter freight is just about as close as they are ever likely to get to understanding what went on for those who had dedicated their lives to the railway, but were so cruelly discarded when steam ended. In 1968, at those final 3 depots in Lancashire, a large proportion of the footplate personnel all received a disgustingly brief, impersonal and curt letter from the office of the Preston Divisional Manager, this advising them that, as from 5 August 1968, their services would no longer be required by the British Railways Board. In that ‘brave new age of dieselisation, automation and speed’, the faceless bureaucrat who had prepared these missives could not find it in his heart to add a single word, from either himself or his superiors, as a token of appreciation and gratitude for the years of unstinting service that had been rendered to the Railway. Totally unacknowledged went any recognition of that art developed by these men in producing efficient locomotive performance and consistently reliable steam motive power, in often absolutely impossible situations. That much was, indeed, a hymn to old-fashioned skills, craftsmanship, loyalty and camaraderie between fellow workmen that formed part of an unbroken tradition going back a century and more, but which would now vanish forever, replaced by and the eternal quest for bland, boring, cost-saving efficiency. The often back-breaking work, particularly for firemen, had been an art born of years of training and experience and, at Lostock Hall, there were several young lads straight from school (some of whom I actually went to school with) who possessed avowed intentions of pursuing a lifetime on the railway and were now to find themselves effectively abandoned, with no other training and precious little in the way of career prospects. The learned skills of a fireman extended far beyond simply shovelling coal all day. Indeed, the back-breaking work was an art born of years of training and experience. Having wielded a shovel myself on many a mainline run, I can conclusively confirm just how difficult it was to maintain that steam pressure-gauge needle at just below the red line, whilst at the same time making sure that there was always still enough water in the boiler to make the steam in the first place! When discussing the job, many a driver retorted, “Any idiot can start a locomotive; it's stopping it in the right place that matters!” And they were right!

    Staff were often expected to start work at 4 in the morning, clearing pits of the burnt ashes from yesterday's engines, crawling through the bowels of the locomotive to oil inaccessible points and to check and repair boiler tubes. On cold winter mornings and humid summer days alike, several hours' hard preparation was needed in order to raise steam. The downhill slide in standards had been proceeding apace for many years. Engines in quiet appalling condition came to be mechanically patched-up using parts from other withdrawn locomotives and, although each shed usually still had engine cleaners, such personnel had stopped cleaning engines long before the end of steam.

    These are the things that need to be documented. We know that the NRM has recently had a filming day to which former steam men and enthusiasts were invited (and another such event is planned for July), but my major concern here is regarding how much of this will ultimately become publicly available, and in what form. It is still not that clear and, I suspect, never will be.

    Come on you professional video-makers, you’ve made a fortune out of selling your DVDs of mainline steam to the enthusiast market - all in return for little in the way of investment, so how about now putting something back just for once?

    My sincere apologies for the length that this posting has been ... but it did all need to be said!
     
  7. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    And this confirms my post on another thread where I noted that the coal traffic to Huncoat and Padiham, worked by Rose Grove crews, was simply handed to the road industry as BR provided neither locomotives or crews to handle the traffic on offer from August 6 1968. The railway staff of Lancashire were betrayed by those who had benefitted from their labours, but now cast aside because it was thought they had nothing to offer.

    The crime wasn't just that men were thrown on the scraphead by a faceless minion acting on behalf of a higher authority which could not understand or appreciate what these men had contributed in the past and could offer in the future but but the men were part of a family which lived in communities surrounding the shed. With the loss of jobs these communities lost their life blood and slowly degenerated with all the social costs that are now being paid in terms of vandalism, drug taking, alcohalism, welfare dependency and all the other social ills which appear when you destroy an individual by taking away the one thing that drives him - the job that occupies his energy and provides the income to support his family and gives him the pride - the feeling of self-worth - that makes his life worth living.

    The proponents of social change who thought to improve the lot of the working man by taking away the "dirty jobs" have engineered a social revolution which has destroyed both men and communities without replacing it with anything of equivalent value; now society is crying out for the labouring skills, the engineering practices, the apprenticeships and the Government, having destroyed them in the 1960s because it could not appreciate their value now refuse to correct its mistakes on the grounds that they have no money to do so !

    If 2008 is to celebrate anything it should be the crass stupidity of those who destroyed the valuable assets of the railway community and the immeasureable courage of those who initiated the Preservation Movement to retain some degree of skill that has resulted in today's wealth of locomotives and supporting engineering skills.

    Instead of honours for the civil servants who sought to destroy such a major part of Britain's cultural heritage howzabout honours for the individuals who have done so much over the years to protect it !

    Now that would make Rail40 something to celebrate.
     
  8. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Member

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    What a wonderful piece of writing.
     

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