On The Footplate

Tyne Dock to Consett

A Reprint of an Article in The Coupling of March 1999 - by Allan Grey

In the early 1960s I was working as a sheet metal worker, fitting new steel panels to the chutes at Tyne Dock ore terminal. It was late Autumn and nearly dark at 3.30pm, and 9F no. 92064 was waiting to leave with a full load of nine 56-ton hoppers. The driver was oiling round and the fireman was having a smoke as he had got the fire in good shape and pressure near the mark.

As I was admiring the locomotive and asking questions, the driver asked me if I was interested in trains and if I would like a trip to Consett and back. I got permission from my charge-hand and climbed aboard to be greeted by the fireman, who put a shovel in my hand and asked if I had ever fired before. I had not, so I was in for a new experience.

In about ten minutes a Q6 buffered up and with two crows we were off. I was told to sit in the driver's side of the tender until the Q6 dropped off. Then the fireman said "this is how you do it" and proceeded to show me. "Two up the right hand side, two up the left and four under the door and repeat until I tell you to stop". I got a wet shirt, believe me, as we did not have anymore bankers on the journey. The needle only dropped once below the mark, as we were going through Beamish, but the fireman soon corrected it.

When we arrived at Consett we emptied the hoppers, then waited about 30 minutes while the fireman told me to pack the firebox mostly under the door for the lightly loaded downhill run. I asked the driver to slow down as we crossed the old A1 at Birtley, so that I could jump off and catch a bus home at the end of a memorable experience.

I have modelled 92064 using a modified Airfix kit and Hornby chassis and it pulls a rake of Fleischmann 5521K hoppers on my layout.

Allan originally wrote this for the 50th anniversary magazine of the North Eastern Society of which Allan is a member.

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April 2001