I HAVE just heard that the locomotive shed down at the bottom of Engine Shed Lane, Skipton, is being pulled down.

It's a part of Skipton that was very important during World War Two. The canteen at the side of Skipton Station was a part of it also.

It's a sad fact that the railway people have not been recognised for their contribution to the war effort.

Hundreds died in the execution of their duty. My dad was a driver then and he took trains to Carlisle.

They were loose coupled trains with a 'Derby Four' up front with the cab covered in canvas sheet so German planes could not see them.

It took them 17 to 19 hours to get from Skipton North Sidings to Caller yard at Carlisle. They took the engine to King Moor Shed, then took lodgings at Deer Park Lodge in Carlisle.

In the winter of 1963 Ernest Simmons and I were sat in the shed mess room on a Sunday.

We had signed on in the office at the shed at 7:30am for a job to Carlisle and then short rest (six hours), but it was cancelled so we went into the mess room at 8.30am.

Ted Chew, the foreman came in and said 'can you take the Black Five that the steam riser is getting steam up in number two road of the shed, and take it up to the station and back up to the coaches of the express that are in number three platform'.

So I said 'what express, the 'ressy' does not come until 11.30am and the 2.15 has long gone.' I was gob smacked when he said it was the 2.15 coaches and that the sulzer had gone back to Leeds. So we said ‘why?’ Ted said the long drag was blocked with snow and over the shap also. The only way to Carlisle was via Preston which was the road we would have took with our original job to Carlisle.

Up the long drag the snow in shale cutting near Dent was up to 40 feet deep. That week the railway company was offering 19 shillings and sixpence per hour to any railway worker to go there and shovel snow.

So we set off tender, first up to the station. We backed up to the coaches and I connected the coaches to the engine, the steam pipe and the brake pipe, and turned the steam on the engine for heating the coaches. Some of the passengers were walking up and down the platform to keep warm. The poor people had been in the cold for over five hours.

When all were on board, we set off under Carlton Road railway bridge and down the stretch to the north junction, only to be stopped with a red flag at the signal box.

The signal man shouted 'control wants to speak to your fireman'. So up the steps I went and a man said to me that the snow was level with the platform at Thornton- in -Craven.

'Do you think you can get through?, he said. So I said 'let the snow plough go first'. He replied 'can I speak to the driver'. Getting back to the engine I told Erny they wanted to talk to him. When he had gone I started to put coal on the fire to build it up big. He came back, and I said (knowing Erny) 'I take it we're going', and he said 'yes'. We set off with the steam safety valves blowing steam.

The 'black five' we had was one of the few that has a speedometer, and a small snowplough at the front. All the way to Thornton there was six to eight feet of snow.

I had a good fire going, and we could see that the snow was a hell of a lot higher than the platform. Erny opened the regulator and I shut the dampers so the snow didn't push the fire bars up into the fire, and we shut both the side windows.

We hit that drift at over 100 miles per hour. It was like being in a massive white fog. When we came out of the drift it was at walking pace. After that the snow was not so bad. When we got to Accrington we stopped and two smiling ladies pushing tea trolleys went up and down the platform giving the passengers tea and biscuits.

On we went to Carlisle, and got relieved by a set of Kingmoor men. We came back and sat on the cushions as passengers. Without the Colne branch, we could not have done it.

Tom Jarvis

Holsworthy, Devon

(Formerly of Short Bank Road, Skipton)