Sunday, 15 November 2009

An interesting discussion

Grandma's birthday Tuesday and as that's a gym (for SOC) and school day we decided to invite them for tea on Saturday instead. We showed them the photos we took in Wales recently on the PC and Granddad comment on my wallpaper picture. We knew it to be Mary's Granddad on his engine (No 6) and Mary and I had debated where the photo was taken because of the background. I had suggested the Beggarlee yard at Moorgreen, where my brother had worked as a fitter when a young man.
We asked Grandma who said she had no idea but a lively discussion ensued. By having scanned the photo quite deeply a remarkable amount of detail can be found but very little was recognised. First thing is there is a crossing in the bottom right. We debated this but little ensued. Second, but more obvious really, is the engine is cold. It takes a long time to get an engine cold and it is close to that crossing where you wouldn't park an engine, so it must have been shunted from it's shed to this point for the photo. If you zoom into the original down by the front bump stops you can see buildings in an elevated position, but their outline meant nothing to us. Where were there engine sheds? It was quickly agreed that Granddad's engine was believed to have always lived at Langley Mill Sheds but it could have been moved to Begrarlee, but did that answer it and why was Granddad wearing a tie? But this was not discussed before a heated debate on where the sheds actually were.

"You go down the lane and turned left over the style. Don't you remember?" says Grandma.
"No, I have never know that area as it was covered by the pit tip and I have only ever known the pit tip as being there." says Mary.
"You do" says Grandma.
"Of course she doesn't" says Grandad.


"No" says Granddad "The bakery was there before the mushroom farm."
"Well I'm sure they were by the Northern at the back of the canal basin" says Grandma.

These debates went on and became quite heated at time.

The footplate was a hot place to work, why would an engine driver wear a tie? We now entered a debate into Why the photo was taken. Perhaps that could be answered with When it was taken? The picture is clearly posed as the engine must have been shunted and Granddad is wearing a tie. Why would that be? "5 years service? No nothing like that was ever awarded in those days Granddad assures us. New engine in the yard? Well the connecting rods on the wheels don't look clean and if you were posing a new engine you would clean every inch of the engine.  Don't get me wrong, the engine is clean, and they were kept clean. Cleaning kept dirt away from joints and knuckles where it could become an abrasive and accelerate wear and it also helped you find wear before it became critical. (Don't even think about BR where pride in the engines was discouraged and repair rather than maintenance became the norm). So why would you pose the engine. Perhaps the answer is in the tie. He was promoted to become Traffic Manager where he would have to wear a tie. So perhaps one last photo of proud driver and loco? How old was he when he retired from driving? Was it before the war?
"Wasn't it after he gave his motorcycle jacket to so-and-so?"
"No he gave it to some Londoner"
"No he gave it to so-and-so"
"Did he?"
"The point is When did he give his jacket away?"
"Wasn't that before the war?"
"Don't know."

In the end I think we concluded, after further lively discussion about his age in the photo and age at becoming traffic manager that the photo of Engine No 6 of The Barber Walker Collieries & Co. was taken at Langley Mill Sheds with Eastwood in the background on the occasion of the promotion from engine driving  of Mr William Lacey shortly before the second world war in 1939. He died at the age of 62 in 1955 before Mary's birth and so she never knew him.


  1. I love it that a single photo can result in so much heated debate! But then that's often the way of old photos - jostling people to remember!

  2. Still maintain it's taken at Beggarlee (Moorgreen). I think the most interesting tale from them was of engines "running away" as they came down the hill from Underwood, with men having to open all the crossing-gates in front.