Oral history workshop

Figure 1: Stanier 8F’s dominate at 16B Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Sheds in the early 1960’s. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre

Eight Freight Blues

Smoke in my eyes; soot in my hair,

Cinders in my shoes,

I’m watching the needle falling away

And singing the eight freight blues.

Dave Goulder’s song, ‘Eight Freight Blues’, is about a baptism of fire for him as a young fireman in the 1950’s. Struggling to fire an 8F in the presence of a cynical driver who, unlike most amicable drivers at Kirkby Loco, sat back on his seat as the loco came to a stop in a middle of a section of line. Retribution happened back at the Loco Shed at signing off time:

Q: “What delayed you, Driver?”

A: “Fireman couldn’t do the job. Give me a real one tomorrow.”

As Dave commented, sixteen years old, a failure and close to tears!


More details of Dave Goulder’s albums, including other railway songs at https://davegoulder.co.uk/home-page/albums-new-version-2-2/

Digital audio recorder

Figure 2: Two Stanier 8F’s at the Summit end of Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Sheds in the early 1960s. Photo Credit: Graham Upchurch collection.

For three decades, from the late 1930’s to 1967, the allocation of Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Sheds was dominated by Stanier 8F’s. The class of freight locos were a LMS design dating from 1935, over eight hundred being built, with the last ones surviving to the end of steam on British Railways in early August 1968.

Digital audio recorder
Digital audio recorder

Figure 4: Engine Record Card for 8F No. 48627, withdrawn from service at Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Shed in March 1966. Photo Credit: David Amos collection

In Midland days, Kirkby-in-Ashfield was a sub shed on Nottingham Loco Shed. In 1935 the LMS coded it 16C and from this time until closure as a Motive Power Depot in early 1967, it was known as a ‘garage shed’. It did running repairs to locos and Kirkby had a reputation of having a good fitting staff.

Digital audio recorder

Figure 3: Stanier 8F stabled outside Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Shed in the early 1960’s. Photo Credit: Graham Upchurch

Kirkby’s allocation of 8F’s numbered over forty in 1947 and continued around this level until circa 1964 when the first generation of main line diesels arrived at Kirkby. In the 1950’s five of the original ten of this class were allocated to Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

Their work was on the local colliery and yards runs, especially to Toton but also on lodging turns to places such as Wellingborough. One of the last 8F’s at Kirkby was No. 48270 which Rob Bradford witnessed as a school boy on his morning paper round in March 1967.

Digital audio recorder

Figure 6: 8F No. 48270, one of the last steam locos at Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Shed in March 1967. Photo Credit: David K Dykes

Blog by David Amos

Posted 27th November 2022

SB2K Admin




Bradford, R. Spotters books 1967-1970


Goulder, D. Dave Goulder’s Railway Songbook, (2012).


Grice, Alen. Interview at Ashfield Community Radio, 7th August 1996.


Hawkins, C. LMS Engine Sheds (Vol. 2),


Hooper, J, LMSR Loco Allocations: The Last Day, 1947. (1989).