Oral history workshop

Fig 1: When I grow up I want to be an Engine Driver! Keith Murray, brother and mate cabbing an 8F 2-8-0 at Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Sheds in the early 1960’s.  Photo Credit: Keith Murray

The Shed of Life

Steam locos at Kirkby were part of everyday life when I was a boy including the noise, fog and smoke associated with them. They were not the ‘romantic dream machines’ that is often portrayed in modern day accounts. I was hooked on them like many of my generation and was encouraged by my Dad to take an interest in them, even considering working with them as a career.

Robin Hood Line

Fig 2: Stan Murray (right) and fellow railwayman in the cab of an 8F 2-8-0 at Kirkby in the 1950’s. Photo Credit: Keith Murray

I never went to work on the railways. The Beeching’s Report was published around the time I left school in 1963, aged fifteen, which influenced my decision to start work in the building industry as an apprentice plumber. Notwithstanding, railways were running in my blood. During my lifetime, the development of rail transport has been a constant interest.

Digital audio recorder

Fig. 3: (left) Steam in the Blood! A young Keith Murray & (right) celebrating his 50th birthday on the footplate of a preserved Stanier 8F 2-8-0 at Loughborough GCR.  Photo Credits: Keith Murray

The ‘Steaming Back to Kirkby’ heritage project is a good way to summarise the rise and almost demise of local railways at Kirkby-in-Ashfield. It is a fine way to remember the role they played in the industrial life of Kirkby. It has been a privilege to help steer and develop the project for others to try to understand why there is no loco sheds, sidings at Kirkby and no station on Station street. My poem ‘The Shed of Life’ was written for inclusion in the booklet ‘Poetry and Motion’, remembering the life and times of railways in Kirkby and the part it played in my life.

Digital audio recorder

Fig 4: Stanier 8F’s at Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Sheds in the early 1960’s. Photo Credit: Keith Murray collection

The Shed of Life


16B was the shed of life to me.

From there came all that supplied my early needs.

For there, my dad worked each day. Early’s, After’s and Night’s;

To earn the pay that kept me fed, kept warm my bed.

As I grew up, it was the source that paid the way.


There’s was a doorway to the Engine Shed that had no door

You could go straight through, but there no more.

When through I went with Dad, I was just a little lad back in the day,

It was the way into the engine shed; he’d take me in to get his pay.


Sometimes I’d go with Dad to get his pay, twos’ in a little tin can I do recall

While we were there I’d stand and stare, close by BIG engines wheels,

They were so big to me, me so small, they really did seem great.

I’d stand and stare up at the cab, up there; on a Stonier Class 8


The image still remains, so clear and yet so long ago, now past

A simple sight, embedded in my brain

For he, my Dad, in many ways set for me a fine example.

(I must have been a hand full)

But for that small tin can; the man my Dad,

and close encounter with the steamers

I am forever thankful.


Now all the shed is dead and gone.

Nought to show ‘sept in the mind of you and me,

That holds clear the life we were brought up in as a rule

Nought that justifies the error of the way the earth was raped for fuel

and air polluted when we were all at school

T’was the ‘best thing’ we said when we looked back,

But history has unfolded and shed its light on ways now changed,

The shed of life, now rearranged


Keith Murray


Posted by SB2K

10th November 2022