Ebbw Junction Train Yards

THE painting depicts some of the laborious tasks on the maintenance of the steam loco. The tasks of fire dropping and fire lighting. Coal bunkering and filling up the tanks with water. Preparing and making ready for the mainline operation of the carriage of passenger and freight transport. The age of the steam engine is now over. We look back at an Era of labour-intensive involvement. Long gone are the Engine sheds. Houses and other buildings stand in its place. Only the ghosts of the past of men and machines linger on. Hooting and tooting of engine whistles and workmen’s chatter sound no more. And only a memory remains of a once regular place of work. Will remain in the thoughts of old men.

Many men who worked their lifetime for the great named G.W.R.

Authors Victor his father worked for 42 years on the great Western after a trip to at sea on the Roystan Grange Cica 1919 First World War. Being Based at Pill loco Engine sheds. He worked on the Docks and the main lines to the Valleys bring coal down – He fired for Sid Quinton and later became Driver. Dad drove Sid crazy with his larking about. I had worked on the traffic dept docks during the last war. Then after buying myself from out of the army in 1949 started work at Pill Loco engine sheds. After passing the entry test’s at Swindon – then had to work on the various first progression jobs to becoming a fireman of cleaning engines and boiler washing. One of the fireman told me that Sid was driving down the valleys Wrong way round that is bunker first.

Towing a train of Blackvien coal or Tywpentwas large something of that good burning welsh coal. It was a dark and stormy kind of night. Sid the driver was keeping a sharp look out. Authors father was nick named Mad hike. Climbed round the engine back and popped his head up in Sid’s face. Sid Quinton very near had a heart attack Sid said afterwards if he had happened to have a coal shovel in his hand he would have banged it on the head in panic. Such was the lighter fun side at work in those times. A more tragic observation of authors time while working at the sheds.

While at snap in the rest room I noticed a lone worker who always seemed to sit alone and no on would converse with him. The word “Coventry”! surfaces if the present generation understands this terminology. This worker did not live far from our home at Maesglas. I asked my Father why this fellow worker was shunned and I was told that in the 1926 strike he was a black leg and had climbed over the wall to work while his workmates were on strike. Some time later the fellow was on sick leave and ill. I wondered why no one would get his pay money for him.

Quizzed father about this Reply was F*** the blackleg. This was the hard and fast rule that was carried to the grave on those men who broke the workmates rule. United we stand divided we fall! I expect we would still have a lot of shity underpants around today if those times did return. Returned back to those hard times our fore fathers endured those men who fought in battles in the 1914-19 great War. Also their fight for the conditions at the work place for what you today enjoy with at your freedom. Author can remember one when only a young child.

Drizzly dark winter evening.

Came a knock on the door and Ma answered the door. At the door was one of father’s work mates – who had brought fathers clothes home in a bundle. Ma burst out sobbing and tears. When informed Father had met with a bad accident at work at the Pill loco Sheds. He had fallen off the back of a steam engine one of the 52 class engines. Fallen while trimming the coal stumbled off the coal-bunker down into the inspection pit. A fall of some fifteen-foot or more. Gashing his head badly and was in a coma for many days very lucky even to have survived the fall. However after much time in hospital he came home and had the care of the doctor from the Great Western Railway Company. They did look after the workers in their employment very well for those days.

The Union fees included a Two-penny fee to The Royal Gwent hospital fund. Which was a Charity Hospital this gave the member some privilege for treatment. Which was forerunner to our health service we take for granted today. Also the works Doctor came some time later to pass father fit for work. He came in his open sports racing car. Wearing the posh garb of plus fours and tweedy jacket. Golf clubs in full view in the back of the car.

My Father Returned to work the years pasted by. Then while driving he had a run away train of coal down the Eastern valley he was commended for an action in staying on train and bringing in to a stop. After telling his fireman to jump for it. However many years later he came down the same line which ran across the now top of the east entrance.

Brynglas road tunnels.
The Train was wrong way round and pushing sent the train through the box and smashed and derailed. I asked father what had happened and he said the signalman was taking the waters missing from the box but father would not say about it because the signalman would lose his job and pension. So the blame ended upon the driver in effect. Dad retired early. But I believe such loyalty to work mates would not be so common in today’s rat race society.


    1. Vic email not working just now – but if you let me know yours – offline if you like – i can forward a message or maybe a mobile number – email to mandox2000[@]yahoo.com

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