Gordon Reed interviewed by Tony Steadman


Oral history interview with Gordon Reed conducted and recorded by Tony Steadman on 24 February 2015, in the mess room of the Miniature Railway team at the National Railway Museum. Duration: 39 minutes. Childhood, Northumberland, old LNER route, early interest in railway, family members working on railways, school; apprenticeship as boiler smith, at Darlington Works 1948; engines built at Darlington works, comparison with Doncaster works; interview for apprenticeship, starting as trade apprenticeship in boiler shop; what was a premium apprenticeship, better education; work as apprentice in boiler shop [00:06:30] National Service, Royal Engineers, railway operated squadron, unit boiler smith; end of National Service, family in Bishop Auckland, 1956, getting a job in a steam shed, people no longer interested to work with steam engines; at age 25 became boiler examiner; meeting future wife, her railway family background [00:10:00] 1960s end of steam, Dr Beeching, closure of railway line through Bishop Auckland, impact on shed, 1964 closure of the steam shed, transfer to depot in Dinsdale, became relayer, then rail welding; explaining relaying work;1965, Leeds district welding inspector; how staff was treated by the railways, different railway staff statuses, high risk and low risk jobs, difference in grades and salaries; life in Leeds, West Riding district, job as district welding inspector; work culture; [00:16:00] 1975 Chief Welding Inspector, York BR Headquarter, until mid 1980s; 1987, starting volunteering at the National Railway Museum, talk with Richard Gibbon, installing permanent way exhibition in Great Hall; volunteering in NRM workshop with John Peck, supervised by Richard Gibbon; joining workshop team, staff and volunteers; differences between boiler exam and boiler inspection; work on O4, 1 day a week volunteering, staying over night in camping coach, change for guest house; emotions of being back in a firebox; [00:21:00] colleague who repaired snow plough at Locomotion; health and safety conditions at beginning of volunteering; relationship with Helen Ashby; presence of security staff at museum; trips with V2; Flying Scotsman boiler work, Scarborough Flyer trips out, footplate days; [00:25:35] Working with Ms Parkinson; Flying Scotsman riveting work, with Charlie Bird, nameplate; challenges around Flying Scotsman repairs; meeting people tanks to volunteering; receiving volunteer award for repairs on City of Truro, Railfest 2012, details of repairs done on boiler with female assistant, trial runs; [00:32:00] West Auckland train, reference to Snowdrift at Bleath Gill British Transport Films; details of job on BR in 1990 before retirement; volunteering one day a week, then fortnightly; [00:34:15] Difference between volunteering front of house or in workshops; current workshop work; ongoing restauration of Flying Scotsman; also volunteering on Keighley and Worth Valley Railway at Haworth [00:38:43] [end of interview]

Oral history recording made as part of a NRM oral history of volunteering initiative led by NRM volunteering team between 2012 and 2015, with the aim to record the voices of people sharing their volunteering experiences at the National Railway Museum, including NRM colleagues supervising volunteers.


Corporate Archive
Object Number:
oral history interview