Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Full Steam Ahead

Childhood Memories

Where I grew up we had train lines over the field at the back of our house. My generation were amongst the last to see the old steam engines working. My uncle Bert worked on the railway, he was a guard and his working day was spent in the Guards-Van at the rear of the train. If he was working the line at the back of our house we would hear his whistle... at night if we looked out into the darkness he would be swinging a lantern which I really looked forward to seeing. The whistle was also a signal to my Dad and older brother to walk the tracks as Uncle Burt would have dropped off large chunks of coal. In the 1960s everyone worked, Hyde was a cotton town back then. Engineering works were abundant as were many other mills. Our Dad started off in the cotton mills and was still working in the mills up to his death. He left the cotton mills in the late 50s and worked in a mill that produced rubber goods. I can well remember the colour he was when he came home.. he looked as black as a miner with the carbon black dust. His lungs must have been full of it.


Even with everyone in work, money was still tight for many. Mum and Dad had five of us to cloth and feed.... Anything like free coal was a blessing, so the sound of uncle Bert's whistle was most welcome. Uncle Bert was also a poacher for some renown, rabbits, hares, and even lamb joints would make they way to our home... if mum was given to much for her to use she knew other who could make good use of these ill gotten gains... One more memory of the train lines behind our house was the time our black Labrador dog 'Robbie' was killed by running under a train chasing a rabbit. My oldest brother Harold went to collect him and I recall he was covered in blood... at that time Harold had just started working in the offices at the large ICI plant. His new white shirt was now destained for the bin.... and Harold was late to work at his new job.

All these momories came back this week whilst I had been working on a number of local pictures from the past. These images are all altered old photo's which I loaded into my drawing program.. The two Steam trains would have passed by our back door many many years ago, and the old mill is a mixture of two pictures... both damaged but still useable for what I wanted to achive.


Dina said...

Hey Tom, it's great to see the old locomotive. That's when trains were real trains--loud and smokey and powerful looking.

When I was little we lived right across the street from the tracks, in Chicago. It was a 3rd floor apartment so the steam engines would chug by literally just outside our window. I remember the choo choo sound and the smell of the black smoke. Some of the engineers would wave to me, the little kid in the window.

Then the streamliners came, and it wasn't half as much fun.

Babooshka said...

Sadly I missed out on these beauties, which is probably why I to be Casey Jones. I like what you've done to the pic. I have been lost in France, but now I'm back to all this rain.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Tom: Such a nice look at the trains of times past. I remember the black smoke pouring out of the stack as they got going.

alicesg said...

Cool. Very interesting and nice to think back of all the fond memories of childhood. It is lovely to see the train passed by as a child.

During my childhood in the 60s, there were cows, goats and horses that used to pass my house. The sheperd boy used to drive them from his farm to the other side of the field to feed on the grass. They had to pass my house to go to the field. I was so excited at the sight and would always know what time to wait for the animals to come by.

imac said...

Its good to reflect on the past at times, it just goes to show that those days were not too bad for the memories and how everyone helped each other and pulled together.
Some young ones think they have a hard time - being bored.

Thank goodness there are some peeps who run these private steam trains around the UK, so we old uns can still enjoy.

Wonderful post Tom, and full marks for the work on the photos.

Patty said...

Where my Grandmother lived, a train ran pretty close to the front of her house, during the day when I would hear it coming I would run out to the middle of the front yard and wave, of course they would all wave back and give an extra toot. But you had to be careful, you could get some of the coal soot in the eyes. Myself I was always afraid to walk too far out into the yard for fear I might fall down the embankment and onto the tracks. Now where my parents lived, the train was about two coal yards away from the back of our house. We would have hobos come to the back door now and again, and Mom always gave them a sandwich and some cold water. They were always thankful.

celtbard_2000 said...

When I lived in Hyde in the sixties I lived in Leigh street and I would walk to school at Leigh Street and would Loll around the railway tracks on Stockport Road and listen to the steam engines puffing and going under the bridge there. Great Memories. My father used to work at Redferns and then worked at Walls in Godley as a personnel officer.

celtbard_2000 said...

that was Sykes street where i lived

Lew said...

You did a great job of restoring these old photos! Nice memories.

Rose said...

Tom, I so enjoyed reading about your life!

It is so odd...all my life I have lived within sight of a train tracks, except for a short period in 1980. Even then, I was within hearing distance.

We walked to and from school for a big part of the way on the train tracks...all through school. And part of his school years, Neal walked much farther on them than I, because we moved closer....

Hyde DP said...

We had steam trains at the bottom our garden too - mostly carrying coal or stone from the local quarry - and my dad grew all his own veg.

Arija said...

Tom, I remember those days well and have trudged many miles along the railway line searching for bits of coal that had fallen between the tracks.

RuneE said...

And you did achieve it. My father worked for the railways in Norway (he was a carpenter and repaired the coaches). I vaguely remember the smell of the old steam engines as they entered the main station - but then it all was electrified and some of the romance disappeared. And some of the culture too.

Tom said...

What great comment this post as had... and so nice to hear your memories.. thanks everyone... really enjoy this posting.


Coy said...

Lovely post Tom, picks and memories! Working folk have nearly always had it hard.

I too remember the steam engines. The nearest tracks were in Hancock Md about 14 miles away running along the Potomac river. On a calm cloudy winter night just before a big snow the sound of their whistles would carry all the way to the little hollow where we lived.

Have a great weekend my friend.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I remember the steam trains. The rail line was a mile from our house. There was a lovely old station, a water tower and coal bins. We used to play by jumping into the coal bins. We sure knew how to get dirty.

When I was a little older we used to make zip guns and shoot at the wooden box cars as they went by. Sometimes I wonder how we managed to survive without killing ouselves.

Oh, Yes, we used to also get up on the underside of the tressle across the river so we were right under the ties. It was heart pounding exciting to have the train pass within a couple of feet of you head. Oh the joys of childhood.

You had better watch closely the two young lands of yours. They look like they have a future to getting into trouble ahead of them.