1971 – March – Personalities

Between the February and March editions of Railway Magazine, the price had changed from 4s (20p) to 20p (4s).  Yes, the UK had been decimalised.

From “Some thoughts on the end of steam” by the prosaically named “62741”.

Personalities of the last years

And what of the personalities on the steam scene in the last years – a largely neglected aspect of steam lore?  Mercifully, many bore nicknames so I may chronicle them here without giving offence….

The most noteworthy group was undoubtedly that incredible timing fraternity – more than fifty strong – at Waterloo, who can claim the distinction of introducing BR’s first payment-by-results speed bonus scheme for footplate staff.  (No doubt the Bournemouth electrification resulted in loss of earnings for some of the more enterprising drivers, though not perhaps the famous “Bournemouth Gnomes”!)

What memories the names of this intrepid bank conjure up: “Lurch” (who was nearly out of gauge); “Diddy Man” (round about 4ft, of which the top half was hair); “Squire Huntley” (ever sporting a cravat); “Pest” (since believed to have gone into the Common Market); and last but not least, “Reg Idiot” – the man who always had a faster run.  This led to the coining of the word “Redged” which has passed into the English language wherever Steam is spoken.  For the uninitiated, its meaning is basically “thwarted” (as when discovered by “Gripper” without a ticket, or with one which, by the widest stretch of the imagination and the maximum degree of plausibility, is unusable at the spot where “G” has struck).  There are overtones too of having been “out-done” and being consequently “deflated.”…..

The profound changes in the habits of the steam enthusiasts of this country since 1968 would have made an interesting study.  Some sociologist, preferably female, has missed the thesis subject of a lifetime!

I suppose railway enthusiasts are odd.  But are they odder than any other hobbyist or sportsman?  That I doubt.  Mind you, my younger daughter once asked me, “Are all the German model railway fans in Stuttgart as strange as your friends?”  I defended ESNG, “Oh, far stranger, dear!”

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
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