Bob Cannings interviewed by Chris Kinchin-Smith

2019-11-22 in Bath
Chris Kinchin-Smith

Oral history interview with Bob Cannings conducted and recorded by Chris Kinchin-Smith on 22 November 2019, at the interviewee’s home. Duration: 1 hour 3 minutes. Personal background, family, childhood, school (1936-1939), choir, job at railway station book stall, lad porter, grade 2 porter; Second World War (WW2) blitz memories; [00:04:00] reserved occupation; Salisbury temporary guard; [00:05:00] after WW2, Bristol East shunting 1945; signalman at Freshford 1946, Bath Hampton West 1947, Bath Spa 1949, train details; [00:07:00] railway career evolution, clerical exam 1962, Bath Road Depot, depot work, rostering job 1974; retirement 1990; [00:08:00] reasons for joining railway, interest in railways, wages, no previous family railway members, GWR a good company; [00:09:20] personal views of Nationalisation, not supportive, enjoyed working for British Rail (Great Western), good friends made; [00:10:30] incidents during career; personal views of HS2, Somerset to Dorset lines, dieselisation compared with electrification; [00:13:00] personal life, marriage in 1949, 3 daughters, details about wife, widower in 1995, family details, grandchildren and great grandchildren; activities since retirement, walking, choir member; memories of father, NUR member, staff association; [00:18:50] further incidents when was signalman; replacing bridge in Bath 1959, lorry hitting a bridge incident, 1962 Boxing Day snow memories, Open Days at Bath; [00:22:20] managers and people he worked for, Bath Road, Chief Clerk, Area Manager; interview for rostering Job; most job satisfaction at Freshford, staff and colleagues at Freshford and Bath station; [00:27:00] Bath Spa Signal Box; Paddington, visit and access; [00:28:20] looking at 1959 Bath Spa photograph, taking of the photograph, signal box description, view description; [00:30:30] safety incidents; Bath to Bristol train accident and aftermath; experience as a first aider, first aid competitions, London safety competition; [00:34:00] involvement with collisions/derailments; 3.50 from Chippenham incident, Freshford derailment, 7.45 Paddington to Bristol incident; [00:37:10] other issues, complaints about night trains, coal train incident; [00:39:10] reduction in goods trains; Bath trains; people he met; [00:41:00] working at Salisbury; brake van issues, Westbury problems using a banker, good crowd of colleagues; lodging issues, going home on days off; [00:44:40] memorabilia he kept, GWR watch, signalling manual; [00:46:00] Intercity 125 introduction; “shunt horse” story; fish trains during the War; Indian Army mule train; horsebox traffic; [00:52:30] Bath Station; goods shed, engine shed, inspector’s house, bridge office, canal office, signal and telegraph office; [00:54:00] summing up; retirement, pleased to leave, keeping fit, travelling, memories of Switzerland, visit to USA, visit to Canada, visit to Scandinavia [01:03:17] [end of interview]

Oral history recording made in continuation of the NAROH project (National Archive of Railway Oral History), recording stories of people who worked on the railways


Corporate Archive
Object Number:
oral history interview