[Source: Nick Catford]


Ted Harrison

Having entered the service of the LMS Railway at Skipton on 24th February 1941, where I trained as a Booking and Parcels Clerk, I was transferred to Barnoldswick as a Junior Clerk on 30th June of that year. The duties of my post, which was remunerated at the princely sum of £35 per annum, were split between the Passenger and Goods Offices which were situated adjacent to each other on the sole platform.

Barnoldswick was the only station on a single line, located 1 mile 1342 yards from Barnoldswick Junction at Kelbrook, which in turn was 1166 yards west of Earby Station Box on the Skipton to Colne line. The line had originally started life as the Barnoldswick Railway in 1871 but, in March 1898 the local company had approached the Midland Railway to see if it would purchase the line outright. As the line had always paid out a `regular and reasonable’ dividend the Midland agreed to do so and powers were secured in 1899. For many years it appears that the Barlick folk had to make do with hot water bottles as a source of heat until authorisation was given to fit steam heating to the two locos and nine carriages allocated to the Branch on 16th November 1922, some 20 years after the Midland had fitted their main line coaches. The Branch finally closed on 27th September 1965.

Barlick was the place that gave me my first taste for the `thrills’ of railway operating. The single line was worked by the `Only one engine in steam or two or more coupled together’ system, section V1 of the Rule Book. All points on the single line were locked by the train staff which the driver held as his authority for being on the single line. The staff was round and black with the person responsible to receive and deliver it to the driver being the Signalman at Barnoldswick Junction. The only signal at the station was an old Midland `Stop Board’ which protected the level crossing on Wellhouse Road and the Coal Yard beyond. The oblong Board fully presented to approaching trains gave a danger aspect (with red bullseye lamp above), a clear indication being given when it was turned 90 degrees to a side on position, i.e. parallel to the line facing Wellhouse Road.

Every lunch time found me hurriedly partaking of my sandwiches in the Porters Room before going out to `help’ with the shunting of the Goods Yard. This took the form of pinning down or releasing wagon brakes or `knobbing up’ points, only rarely was I allowed to handle a shunting pole. Most evenings I returned to spend more time with the leading porter and the engine crews until the last train at 9:35pm when I usually had the treat of driving the engine. A push and pull train was allocated to the Branch, being propelled towards Earby. When propelling the driver was located in the cab at the front end of the leading coach (normally two on the train) with the staff where he operated the vacuum brake whilst the fireman operated the regulator on the locomotive. It was the practice of most crews, prior to shutting off power, to open the regulator momentarily to the full, then close it at the bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The train then `coasted’ to the Junction which was traversed slowly until the driver had surrendered the staff to the signalman. On receipt of the bell code to indicate that the staff had safely been delivered the regulator was opened with some gusto for the run into Earby. Mr. Dawes, the Station Master, must have been aware of my activities as his house and garden overlooked the station area but he turned a Nelsonian eye and never restricted my enthusiasm in any way.

The Booking and Parcels Clerk was, and had been for many years, Louis Barwick, a much respected member of the community and a leading light in the town’s glee union. He had a good baritone voice and would frequently burst into snatches of anything from the Mikado to the Messiah. Cotton manufacturers travelled to the Manchester Market each Tuesday and Friday and two of their number would sometimes come into the office and join him in song. Exceptionally Louis retained his entitlement to uniform dating from the Midland Railway days when his duties included the examination and collection of tickets. An avid pipe smoker he was often blamed for the destruction of the gas mantles with his practice of lighting paper spills from them. Although then in his early sixties, he had a good head of wiry hair. Tommy Corkill, a Goods Guard from Skipton, regularly cut the hair of most of the staff on his visits but did his best to avoid Louis on the alleged grounds that his hair ruined the scissors.

The parcels were delivered by horse van, the van man being another stalwart, Charlie Moore. Nowadays one is inclined to forget that horses had to be fed and watered twice daily and Charlie, or a substitute, had to attend the stables for this duty at weekends and on bank holidays. Charlie thought a lot about his horses and I recall his sadness at loosing one of his favourites when he loaded it into a horse box for transfer to another station. When a telegram was received advising the timings for a horsebox with a replacement horse for him from the Stables at Oakham he had extreme difficulty containing his excitement until the train conveying it arrived and he had viewed his future workmate.

Another long standing member of the team was Tommy Westmoreland, one of the two Leading Porters. Tommy was a big genial chap who seemed equally happy diving under the buffers to perform coupling on the passenger trains, wielding a shunting pole out in the yard, or dealing with the public in the office or on the platform. I suppose his trade mark was his tobacco tin, pipe and pen knife which he seemed to be perpetually using to cut up his twist. When I first started at Barlick the other leading porter was Joe Creasey who was soon transferred on promotion to Leeds as a shunter and he was replaced by Dick Dawson. Dick had come from Clitheroe and had recently taken up residence on, or near to, Wellhouse Road. The one other member of the platform staff was Walter Scales who resided at Skipton.

One regular daily visitor to the Booking Office was Henry Carter, a local newsagent, who usually arrived around 4:15pm to collect his evening newspapers. Henry was renowned for his hobby of the manufacture of cigarette lighters and he kept the staff well supplied with these, particularly at that time, very useful items.

The Goods Department was very busy as most of the commodities for shops and industry were being conveyed by rail. Large quantities of explosives were also received from, and forwarded to, Gledstone Hall which was being used as a military storage depot. The town cartage work was performed by a horse and dray, industry and out lying areas being served by one or more Scammell units loaned from Skipton. The Goods Office was manned by Mr. Reynolds, the Senior Clerk, and Miss Mary Wensley with myself halftime. In 1941 the system which had prevailed from the days when the railways took over from the stage coach still prevailed and every consignment required an invoice, raised at the sending station and sent to the receiving station, with full details including weight and charges shown thereon. Apart from assisting with the invoicing, as was to be expected with the junior post, I was allocated the more menial tasks. One of these was `abstracting' details from invoices station by station and `summarising’ the financial information thus obtained for each railway.

The Branch was normally serviced by a Class 1 0-4-4 tank engine and two coaches fitted with push and pull equipment which did not require the presence of a guard on the train. However in my time there, so far as I can recall, until around 1:00pm, a Class 2,3 or 4F 0-6-0 covered the passenger service on top of its freight work which, of course, involved `running round’ the coaches at both stations and a guard being employed. Barlick trains connected into and out of all trains at Earby between 7:00am and 9:48pmSX, 10:27pm SO. Even at that time the branch trains were usually lightly loaded. One glaring exception was the 11:10pm from Barlick which conveyed around 200 `late night revellers’ fresh from the regular Saturday evening dance at the Majestic Ballroom. There was no booked Sunday service but the Branch occasionally opened for special trains. In the winters of 41/42 and 42/43 traffic had built up to such a degree that I can recall at least three or four freight specials running on the Sabbath. The booked freight service on weekdays arrived from Skipton around 6.10am when traffic was `set’ in the Goods and Coal yards and departed around 1/30pm. `Mixed’ trains (i.e. conveying passengers and freight) on which the freight wagons were not required to have continuous brakes, were scheduled to run on the Branch. A train departing Barlick around 5/30pm was booked as a mixed train and regularly conveyed the maximum of 20 wagons with a brake van and quite frequently included wagons of explosives

Early in 1943 Rodney Hampson entered the service and commenced training for my duties and it was apparent that my days at Barnoldswick were numbered. As anticipated `the call’ came on 16th March 1943 when I was transferred to Colne, still a Junior Clerk (but this time filling a senior position as Booking Clerk) , my rate of pay having risen by then to £55 per annum.

Last updated: Sunday, 04-Jun-2017 09:08:46 CEST
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