Oral history workshop

Fig 1: Stanier 8F 2-8-0 No. 48197 takes the former Mansfield Railway at Kirkby South Junction on 13th August 1966. It was the 11 coach RCTS Great Central Rail Tour which started from London Waterloo. It turns out that this was the last train to travel the full length of the Mansfield Railway, in the down direction. I saw the train later in the day at Nottingham (Victoria) station. I’ve not used a colorised version of my photo because the app creates an image with red coaches when, in fact, they were Southern green. You can see the chimney of Kirkby South Signal Box above the rear end of the 1st coach. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

Youthful Days – Part 10

In Youthful Days Part 10, Malcolm Rush recalls seeing one of the last special trains on the Great Central at Kirkby-in-Ashfield and how fish scraps helped his viewing position at Nottingham Victoria!

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Fig 2: Class B1 4-6-0 No. 61131 drifts south into Nottingham (Victoria) with the RCTS special on 13th August 1966. Stuart (left) and my brother Gordon (right) watch the arrival. The Mansfield Road tunnel portal can be seen in the background, just above the first coach. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush. Colourised version

Following on from Part 9 (the fish trains) I was, unwittingly, able to use the aroma of fish to my advantage on 13th August 1966. That day an RCTS special was due to be hauled by a “Southern Pacific” to Nottingham (Victoria). I had seen the train pass Kirkby South Junction, heading North on the former Mansfield Railway. Later in the day my brother Gordon and I were taken to Nottingham in our friend Stuart’s newly acquired car, a Hillman Imp.

Before making our way to the station I bought, from the Central Market on Huntingdon Street Nottingham, some fish scraps for our family pet cat, Laddie. In those days, of course, there were no supermarkets and I only ever knew one shop selling wet fish at Kirkby-in-Ashfield, on The Hill – not sure if that was still trading in 1966. This treat for Laddie was an impulse buy. Waiting on the platform at the Victoria station, I suddenly became aware that no one was stood beside me. I had placed the wrapped fish scraps on the platform between my legs but I would imagine that, as scraps, they wouldn’t have been particularly fresh. So I am certain they contributed to me having a clear view of No. 34002 ‘Salisbury’ at the station!

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Fig 3: Unrebuilt “West Country” Class 4-6-2 No. 34002 ‘Salisbury’ begins a dramatic departure from Nottingham (Victoria) on 13th August 1966, having taken over the train from 61131. I can almost smell those fish scraps !! Again, this image is B&W because the colorising app produces red coaches instead of Southern green. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

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Fig 4: This is Laddie, seen in August 1967. He was older than me and lived until he was 21 years old. He arrived as a family pet one bonfire night – he was suffering from some bonfire burns so my Mum and Dad took him to the vets and tried to find his owner, to no avail. In fact Laddie was originally called Lady. The name was changed when his true gender came to light! Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush. Colourised version

When I was at Mowlands Junior School I remember writing about how Laddie came to be with us. My description of that, and subsequent bonfire nights, was written by me in a very naïve way and was taken totally the wrong way by my teacher, Miss Poole. I remember her saying to the whole class that “some cruel person burns their cat’s tail every bonfire night” I recall being quite aggrieved – Miss Poole hadn’t bothered to speak to me first to find out if my use of the written English language accurately portrayed the events. In those days you didn’t tend to challenge the teacher!

What I was trying to write about was this: – During the colder days Laddie’s favourite place was to curl up in the hearth at the side of our open coal fire. However, every so often a piece of hot coal would fall out of the grate. Laddie would leap out of the way but he generally received some singes, especially on his tail which was the last part of his body to reach safety. It happened throughout the time we had a coal fire but it did seem strange that it invariably seemed to occur around Bonfire Night time.

I therefore wrote about this, with all innocence. I recall writing something like “Laddie came to us one bonfire night with his fur all burnt. Now, to celebrate, he gets his tail burnt every bonfire night”

Now, I admit that what I wrote could be interpreted as Miss Poole did but I always felt it was very harsh of her to jump to conclusions without checking with me first.

It does show how childhood inexperience with the English Language shouldn’t always be taken at face value!

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Fig 5: This was the photo from my Mowlands Junior School days, taken in my last year when I was 11 years old. You can see the Nissan Hut classrooms in the left background. As you look at the photo I am on the 2nd row from the back, 3rd from the right. Phillip Escott (remember the Ian Allan Combined Volume book?) is sat on the right end of the front row, with Owen Llewellyn next to him. Owen remains my friend to this day. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush Collection

Blog by Malcolm Rush

Posted by SB2K admin – 12th December 2023