137 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News April 1991 – Part 5
More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge
Whilst industriously playing cards one morning in the1960s at Bescot, Sid was summoned to the foreman’s office.
‘Sid’ said the foreman, ‘There’s a special test train waiting at Wolverhampton. They haven’t got a guard, so I’m sending you along.’Gateway to the high level railway station
This building is described thus on a blue plaque erected by the Wolverhampton Civic Society:
“The Queen’s Building. Gateway to the High Level Railway station. Erected 1849. Edward Banks, Architect.”
It is located a short walk away from the mainline station. The bus station is located beside it. © Copyright Ruth Sharville and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Sure enough a taxi arrived and took Sid to Wolverhampton High Level. The special train consisted of four brand new electric locomotives, two at each end of a test coach. It all looked very impressive. Alas, no-one had a key to open the doors on the coach, so Sid, a petite sixteen and a half stone, had to force his way in through the corridor connection. The key was hanging up in a corner of the coach.
Eventually everyone got on board. The driver of the electric loco was told ‘You’ve got a clear path through to Stafford. Go as fast as you can from here and don’t stop no matter what we do with the brakes until we get to Stafford.
‘Hello!’ thought Sid ‘This should be fun.’
The train started off and rapidly picked up speed. ‘Just a minute! called one of the inspectors, ‘The handbrake’s still on the coach!’
‘So take it off then’ chimed another inspector.
‘Could be tricky,’ said Sid ‘It’s external; there’s no way of getting at it from in here.’
The inspector applied the vacuum brake, but to no avail, the driver was carrying out hid instructions to the letter.
What a sight it must have been, four gleaming electric locos, pantographs sparking and flashing, with the tyres of the test vehicle flashing and sparking as well. As it turned out, the driver did not get the clear run he had been promised, and the train stopped near Penkridge. The inspectors hurriedly released the handbrake and climbed back onto the train. The signals changed and the driver set off once more.
‘THUMP THUMP THUMP’ went the coach wheels, which had huge flats on their tyres. The train accelerated up to Ninety miles an hour. ‘THUBITY THUBITY THUBITY’ the coach shook and vibrated. Things fell of shelves and out of cupboards. This was unbearable.
At long last the train arrived at Stafford. ‘Everything OK?’ asked the driver as he climbed down from his electric. The test crew, plus Sid, were ashen faced and feeling far from well.
‘No, not really,’ replied the inspector, and was promptly sick!The first ‘Peak’ Diesel leaving Stafford on an Up expressView NW, towards Crewe etc. on the WCML. By 1960 many WCML expresses had been handed over to Diesel haulage: here No. D1 ‘Scafell Pike’, the first BR/Sulzer ‘Peak’ 2,300hp Type 4 1-Co-Co-1 (later Class 44 No. 44.001), pulls the 08.30 Carlisle – Euston out of Stafford station. © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.