Category
Collection
Object type
Maker
Place of origin
Date
Oral history interview with Alan Willis conducted and recorded by Alison Kay on 13 November 2014, at the National Railway Museum. Duration: 31 minutes. Alan Willis’ father was George Owen Willis (GW), born in Bromwich, Midlands in 1896, who was a train ambulance employee in World War 1. He worked on British trains only and not on trains on the continent. Alan Willis (AW) recounts the work of his father on ambulance trains. Childhood and family background of George Willis. How GW joined the war efforts in the ambulances, Royal Army Medical Core; photographs taken by GW; how GW recounted working on ambulance train to AW; work of GW on ambulance trains, how wounded were loaded on ambulance trains at Dover; relationships and socialisation with others on the ambulance trains; air raids impact on ambulance train, more risks in Dover; GW being promoted to Sargent; no death on board the train; how they dealt with infectious diseases, barrier nursing; shell shocked soldiers; medical orderlies on trains, nurses; how serious and less serious cases were placed on board of train; operations likely done on continental trains, not on UK ambulance trains; living on board the train; how GW met is future wife; after the war, GW career at health department Bournemouth, barrier nursing; whether GW kept in touch with people met on ambulance train, meeting Wilfred Owen; what AW remembers of a book of messages and drawings from ambulance trains patients and colleagues which has been lost

Alan Willis interviewed by Alison Kay

2014-11-13

Oral history interview with Tony Steadman conducted and recorded by Claire Cohen on 19 June 2012, at the National Railway Museum. Duration: 1 hour 11 minutes. [Track 01] Background, birth [00:00:36] [end of track 01] [Track 02] Initial involvement with National Railway Museum; volunteer group emanating from friends of museum; interviewed by Dr Lowe [00:02:30] [end of track 02] [Track 03] his occupations and availability [00:01:00] [end of track 03] [Track 04] how he heard of volunteering at museum; Dr Lowe’s interview; organised rosters; 1990 concrete degradation in Great Hall; station hall opened; he was asked to be coordinator in 1990; continued till 2000 [00:04:48] [end of track 04] [Track 05] 1990, 1950’s concrete was deteriorating, clearing Great Hall of artefacts; moved to Great Railway Show and NRM on tour; Mallard moved to Swindon; move lasted a year; [00:05:00] John Coiley retired in 1992; changes in museum, Great Hall technical and Station Hall social [00:08:24] [end of track 05] [Track 06] Bill Greenwood asked Tony to be volunteer coordinator; relationship between volunteers and staff; [00:05:00] Information Point started 1992; Tuesday night team with Richard Gibbon; ad hoc activities; Chris Allender and Clare Evans involvement; first duty on miniature railway in 1995 [00:10:27] [end of track 06] [Track 07] creation of volunteer committee, deciding projects; Miniature railway; Bob Gwynne visited America; introduced awards for volunteer service; incentive to keep volunteering; Matt Hick and Christmas dinner with awards; NMSI at forefront of volunteering; staff and volunteers; short term contracts for museum staff [00:11:18] [end of track 07] [Track 08] comparison of security staff then and now (2012); Tony stepped down in 2010; volunteer trips arranged from 1998; NYMR with Great Western saloon; [00:05:00] Matt Hick arranged trips, volunteers outings, first one to York station, Cedar Grand, St Pancras; [00:10:00] Tony now organises trips; Railfest, crisis management; [00:15:00] best part of volunteering is management and training; Worse moment was with A4’s and rain in the North Yard; Andrew Scott; [00:20:00] changes in Health and Safety over the years; public announcements over time; [00:25:00] Personal information, secrecy; best of time was relaxing away from work; value of volunteer work worth to the museum; letters of appreciation [00:31:33] [end of track 08] [end of interview]

Tony Steadman interviewed by Claire Cohen

2012-06-19

Oral history interview with David Thomas conducted and recorded by Matthew Hick on 17 July 2012, at the National Railway Museum. Duration: 1 hour. Background; starting as a volunteer, campaigning for York as NRM site, site requirements, museum opening 1975; Friends of the National Railway Museum (FNRM) group established, Lord Downs, member of Stephenson Locomotive Society, joined FNRM; [00:03:40] FNRM details, membership, presence at NRM, how volunteering began; DT stopped volunteering early 1980s due to work pressures [00:06:10] maintaining contact with FNRM; stewarding trains, examples, organising York Evening Meetings (1994), York FNRM Evening Meetings, details, numbers, benefits to FNRM; [00:09:00] volunteer recruitment; end of 1990’s, volunteer recruitment and training co-ordinator (autumn 2000), information points and miniature railway volunteers, Claire Evans, background in training and recruitment, detail, job satisfaction; [00:15:50] other aspects of volunteer recruitment; formation of millennium volunteers in York, opportunities to get younger volunteers, reservations, failures, developing records, IT development, volunteer database development; [00:22:10] volunteer management; volunteer manager (Kate Wadden) appointed (2002), coming to terms with having a manager, success at working together, volunteer manager success across museums in the group, continued when Matt Thompson appointed, links with other volunteer officers, job satisfaction continued; [00:27:00] volunteering development; Railfest 2004, Matt Hick impact; [00:29:00] what drove the first volunteer push; concern to move volunteer recruitment quickly, contributory factors in helping recruitment; [00:32:30] why NRM increased volunteer numbers, recordkeeping on volunteers, value of volunteers; reasons for recruiting more miniature railway volunteers, not enough drivers, recruited 10; [00:34:10] driver training provided by Director of Engineering Richard Gibbon; [00:35:00] Back of House teams; Tuesday night team managed by Rich Gibbon, changed when Richard Gibbon retired; [00:36:50] highlights whilst a volunteer co-ordinator; satisfaction of people who were recruited and stayed, some still at NRM; [00:38:00] changes in volunteer recruitment, applicants with “their own agendas”, now recruit against a job description, applicants with impediments, improving inclusivity in recruiting volunteers, turning down applicants, dealing with difficult cases, museum needs to “get what it needs”; [00:43:00] roles at NRM; would have liked to have been involved in locomotive support, linked to family history, role carried out like in professional career with British Telecom (BT); [00:45:00] last 12 years; enjoyment, good support, enjoyed working with Claire Evans; shock of having a manager; Railfest 2004, challenges managing volunteers, keeping up with changes; [00:48:00] change in relationships between staff and volunteers; more co-operation and co-ordination, closer links with learning team; [00:49:50] change in relationship between the volunteers and FNRM; [00:51:00] Why NRM appointed a Volunteer Manager (Kate Waddon); DT volunteers 1 day per week and for FOH volunteers, appointment to cover whole spectrum of volunteering, volunteering in better shape now, very positive development; [00:53:00] reflections on own volunteering experience, no disappointment overall, found it difficult in 1 day per week role, keeping pace with what is happening; [00:55:50] how family views his volunteer endeavours; [00:56:20] aspirations for future volunteer programme; get people that the museum needs, questioning impact of economic crisis on future of volunteering [00:59:36] [end of interview]

David Thomas interviewed by Matthew Hick

2014-10-13

Oral history interview with John Charlesworth 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: 34 minutes. How he was introduced to railways; volunteering at Middleton Railway; member of the Friends of the National Railway Museum (FNRM), joined in 1977 on information points; rigidity of staff at museum; 1985 helped with work on Tuesday night restoring the Duchess of Hamilton locomotive (DOH); [00:05:00] career, worked on maintenance at power stations, hot riveting and air drills, lived in Selby; 1988 footplate ride on Green Arrow; support crew on DOH on main line; [00:10:00] miniature railway and working with public, Richard Gibbon, increased numbers, driver training for miniature railway, started charging, change, replacement of tracks; [00:15:00] miniature railway originally thought of as a toy, changed when charges came in; Deltic introduced on miniature railway, run round; 2014 rebuild; volunteer age differences; [00:20:00] recruitment of new drivers; outside examiners; everyone a driver; difficult passengers; [00:25:00] cataloguing with John Peck; drawing of accident; preparing standard gauge locomotives; fireman during day; [00:30:00] not so much to do at present, commenting on open spaces in Station Hall; believes there is potential for more volunteer involvement; enjoyed volunteering [ 00:34:14] [end of interview]

John Charlesworth interviewed by Tony Steadman

2015-02-24

Oral history interview with Wilfred Owen Fripp conducted and recorded by Colin Divall on 9 January 2013, at the Priest's House Museum, Wimborne, Dorset, in presence of one of the trustees of the Priest’s House Museum. Duration: 42 minutes. The interview focuses on Owen Fripp’s work experiences on the railways between 1962 and 1968, as well as his railway passenger experiences. Personal background; working on the railways; why joined railways, people OF knew on railways, train spotter, school details, friend Roy Roberts (signal box boy), further train spotting details, details of how got railway job, job start 28th December 1962; [00:05:00] job details; Bournemouth Central based, travel from home to Bournemouth, cleaner until aged 16 years, fireman with Johnny Walker, difficulties recruiting firemen in mid 1960’s; [00:07:30] first trip made on Corfe goods train; Johnny Walker memories, journey details, fireman job easy because of fitness, enjoyable; [00:09:30] wages, cleaner’s pay 84 shillings, 112 shillings when passed as a fireman (aged 16 years); further career details; moved up when vacancies occurred, quick development as people retired; [00:11:00] jobs done as a fireman; Wessex to Weymouth and mail train return, “old” engine drivers work, trains into Wimborne, Waterloo trips, Temple Coombe train; [00:13:50] highlights/lowlights of a trip; Brockenhurst trip with 82000 tank engine, engine replacements, details of working train from West round the Old Road, goods train working out of Poole; [00:16:10] shunting at Wimborne; easy station to work, workers at Wimborne listed; OF’s experience of Wimborne, signalmen at Wimborne, details of shunting movements, Salisbury goods trains workings, Wimborne goods yards workings, lot of goods workings, abattoir details, cattle traffic from Wimborne; [00:23:50] fuel depot at West Moors; loose coupled trains, details of workings, depot had private shunters; [00:25:20] leaving the railway after steam trains ended, last turn was boat train to Waterloo 31st August 1967, left because there was no work, no redundancies, did not mind leaving the railways; [00:27:10] Clinker siding at Wimborne; no memories, memories of clinker at Bournemouth Central good shed; [00:28:00] Winter of 1963 memories; use of fires to stop water freezing in engines, trains ran to time, Wimborne incidents (including derailment); [00:30:40] early morning train to Eastleigh; 5.15 am train, detail of working, popular train, Sunday running, use of Black 5 locomotive; [00:33:40] Beeching Report (March 1963); reaction, petition, no effect, census taking, redundancies, rail removal; [00:36:00] other information; not many women workers, bookstall on station (1950’s), started shift work on 16th birthday, own motorised transport, people worked with in Wimborne, more on Wimborne derailment, Wimborne was “a happy station” [00:42:29] [end of interview]

Owen Fripp interviewed by Colin Divall

2013-01-09

Oral history interview with Gwen Divall conducted and recorded by Colin Divall on 13 April 2006, in Swilland, Suffolk. The interviewee is the interviewer’s mother. This is the second and last session of the interview. Duration: 1 hour 53 minutes. The interview focuses on Gwen Divall passenger experiences on the railways and other forms of mobility, especially during the period between the First and Second World Wars. After 1945, post Second World War (WW2); WW2 years; bus travel; no limits to personal movement; [00:05:00] cycling after school; trip to Stratford on Avon and Isle of Wight and Youth Hostels; [00:10:00] bus to Epping Forest; train to teacher training college alone; Hereford college by train via Paddington; long distance coach cheaper; from accommodation to campus by coach; experience at rural school by bike; [00:15:00] traveling to Liverpool and Durham to NUS conference by train; cycling to Penzance on YHA trip; lorries to Symonds Yat; [00:20:00] entertainment in Hereford; travel not paid; applied for teaching jobs at Middlesex County Hall; put at school in London; [00:25:00] walking to school and living at home; mother doing cleaning jobs; [00:30:00] husband cycled and walked; [00:35:00] [interference] train to South Downs; bus then train; water transport; abroad by ferry to Paris; [00:40:00] coach to Nice by charter; mainly university students going to jobs; walking holidays in England and Scotland and Wales; bus to London for diploma in English; [00:45:00] Austria for climbing from a hotel; travel by train; no sleeping car; Italy by train in 1951; Spain in 1952; trains crowded; married in 1955; honeymoon to Brittany; [00:50:00] move to Beaconsfield; husband worked in Maidenhead; GD taught at High Wycombe; cycling to work; used Green Line buses; also trains to London; [00:55:00] local shops used; no car; to hospital by bus; husband worked at DSIR at Datchet; [01:00:00] arrival of baby, train to Eastbourne; bought secondhand car in 1959; father only driver; [01:05:00] Greenline buses to central London; car sharing to work; moved to near Wimborne Dorset; [01:10:00] sports car to Stratford on Avon; bus to town; learnt to drive in 1961; delivery of food; car used more; now two cars; [01:15:00] supply teaching; reasons for buying a second car; walked children to school; Bournemouth main shopping area; [01:20:00] train from Wimborne to London; car to station; laundry; door to door salesmen; entertainment in Colehill; [01:25:00] car to London then public transport; types of cars; Morris Oxford; Triumph Dolomite; [01:30:00] various new cars; kept two cars for a long time; no long distances; moved in 1969 to Coleshill; [01:35:00] long-distance buses to London; from Wimborne; convenient; car not good in London now; choice of Poole or Bournemouth for London; [01:40:00] 1980 first flight abroad; Greece; France; Eurotunnel; hovercraft; father flew earlier with the army; [01:45:00] car travel in the 1960’s; in 1949 father out of work; new job needed train to work; parents from Clerkenwell and St Pancras [01:53:38] [end of interview]

Gwen Divall interviewed by Colin Divall (session 2 of 2)

2006-04-13

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]

Bob Cannings interviewed by Chris Kinchin-Smith

2019-11-22

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]

Gordon Reed interviewed by Tony Steadman

2015-02-24

Oral history interview with Simon Linnett, conducted and recorded by Philip Benham at the interviewee's office in London on 17 September 2018. Duration: 1 hr. 12 min. 55 sec. Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister); privatisation; working as Director of Rothschild investment bank; rail privatisation proposals; 1992 Conservative manifesto; lack of government planning; attempt to gain employment as a Director of British Railways (BR); Rothschild advising on BR privatisation; BR preferred privatisation option; impact of EC Directive 91/440; Treasury Department philosophy; importance of Philip Rutnam (Civil Servant); privatisation structure; Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (OPRAF); rolling stock companies (ROSCOs); creation of Railtrack; Rothschild advising Railtrack; valuation of assets; determining access charges; Thameslink 2000; Railtrack finances; performance regime; possessions regime; open access operators; cost of operating performance regime; order of privatisations; impact of 1997 General Election; prospect of re-nationalisation; investment prospectus drafting; working as lead advisor to Railtrack; Bob Horton; John Edmonds; reasons for not taking a job in rail industry; Gerald Corbett; role of Rail Regulator; John Swift; effectiveness of privatisation structure; reasons to reintegrate rolling stock and infrastructure; Rothschild advising Railtrack post-privatisation; major rail accidents; Railtrack collapse; Network Rail; challenges of privatisation; Privatisation Delivery Group (PDG)

Simon Linnett interviewed by Philip Benham

2018-09-17

Video oral history interview with Richard Morris, conducted and recorded remotely by Neil Butters on Zoom video conferencing platform, on 8 March 2022. Duration: 51 minutes 18 seconds. Education; family history; holiday jobs; other job applications; training school Derby; [00:05:00] Tinsley marshalling yard Sheffield; review of board operations; punctuality at Liverpool St; move to Eurotunnel; [00:10:00] Privatisation, enthusiasm for privatisation; cannot sever train from track; no-one in charge; spoke to John Major; guards story; [00:15:00] negotiations on Channel Tunnel; issues with Bob Reid 1; freight through the tunnel; engineering in tunnel; simulator; impact of Brexit and Covid-19 on traffic; [00:20:00] approach to take over a Train Operating Company (TOC); financial challenges; privatisation antagonistic at higher levels; a lot of investment with privatisation; [00:25:00] electrification to Bath; first franchise to Chiltern was 20 years giving time to expand; later franchises were 7-8 years which were not so good; fire in Eurotunnel; [00:30:00] interview with Adrian Shooter; fire at Marylebone signal box; staff entrants in 1970’s; Bristol signal Box; [00:35:00] after organisation dividing it now looks like it is coming together; Romney Hythe and Dymchurch safety; after privatisation no-one in charge; accidents at Clapham and Potters Bar; lessons from other countries; Finland and Melbourne; [00:40:00] Delay Attribution Board, who was responsible for delays; Williams report; representative of TOC’s and Railtrack; Schedule 8; driven by money not by pride; [00:45:00] future of Delay Attribution Board, unique to UK; involvement in safety on Romney Hythe and Dymchurch; [00:50:00] TOPS (Total Operations Processing System) [00:51:18] [end of interview]

Richard Morris interviewed by Neil Butters

2022-03-08

Oral history interview with Glynn Waite conducted and recorded by Bob Gwynne on 22 September 2017 at the National Railway Museum. Duration: 2 hours 9 minutes 25 seconds. [Start of interview, 00:00:00] Joining British Rail 1960, Trains Office Derby, diagramming, train staff planning, special trains; [00:04:30] area covered, freight timetable, Derby to Barnt Green, Hornsbridge at Chesterfield; Birmingham, freight traffic analysis, wagon surveys; changes, introduction of diesels working ‘out and home’; [00:09:00] line occupation surveys; diagramming journeys and staff; [00:10:30] different jobs before being involved with TOPS; TOPS at Cardiff, start with Ebbw Vale cutover, TOPS in South Wales; [00:16:43] problem with Cardiff Tidal/East Maws works; use of Ventek terminals, issues, wagon surveys, [00:20:49] missing wagons, ‘Cripple roads’, loading wagon data into TOPS; [00:24:32] TOPS survey staff, cutover process, working hours; [00:29:25] impact of TOPS on Area Managers, attempts at economies, TOPS helping reduce amount of wagons and introduce air braked wagons; [00:35:26] TOPS and locomotive maintenance on Western Region; [00:42:39]economies, elimination of consignment notes, survey, traffic flow introduction of numbers for clients, economies on clerks and paper; [00:47:47] goods offices rationalisation, reduction in sidings, new methods of working enabling savings; [00:49:30] job at Speedlink 1984-1990; [00:50:21] TOPS moving into privatisation, non geographic allocation of reporting offices; [00:54:40] planning redundancy but kept on to work out how to affect the move away from geographic location; [00:57:36] TOPS 2000 introduction, link with privatisation; division within privatised freight network, change to Windows operating system; [01:02:23] TOPS 2000 implementation, TOPS offices for BR mainline; TOPS responsibility area (TRA), capacity limits and rationalisation, Worcester TOPS office closure, further rationalisation; [01:07:08] reason for TOPS office locations, marshalling yards, reasons for rationalisation and TOPS staff redeployment; [01:11:47] TOPS clerks, recruitment and grades; [01:14:40] Freightliner, coal/cement, links to TOPS; difference between TRUST and TOPS; [01:17:01] TRUST and LARTA, geolocated train departures; how to put in a new location [01:21:50] locations for companies; wagon load, marshalling yards, train loads rather than individual wagons; [01:25:07] merry-go-round system (MGR), automation, including wagon numbers and weights, MGR wagons kept in trains; Toton, only two roads on down-side, wagon weight limitation at some collieries, MGR wagons revolution; [01:30:17] TOPS 2000, more people understand the system, area managers and shunters can input TOPS; TOPS direct (Eric Straw), Wolverhampton Steel Terminal, training on using TOPS, including Masboro Control; [01:35:10] EWS move; cut over Swansea Borough, Newport 1974, returned 20 years later to cutover to shunters; removal of Rowntrees traffic, closure of Dringhouses yard, closing yards, Parkeston; reflection on railways during time of career, sectorisation hierarchy, Bury St Edmonds example, Peterborough-Grantham, division of payments in pre-privatisation era; [01:43:04] sectorisation process, new thinking, cost of running railway has increased, GNER causes wage inflation with drivers, causing train cancellations elsewhere;[01:49:02] career overview, lodging at Railway Hostel, Loco hostels, redundancy, WR change, traffic analysis, Rowsley, Derby, Crewe, Nantwich, Bridgend, Sheffield, TOPS implementation, Speedlink, RFD, Manchester, Islington; EWS attempts to replace TOPS; Freightliner poached Glynn from EWS with traffic; [02:01:20] work as a consultant sorting out new freight flows, sectorisation, end of Speedlink, lack of knowledge; Michael Portillo, every freight flow had to make 8.5% return on assets; [02:06:50], privatisation, increasing distance of freight flows [02:09:25] [end of interview]

Glynn Waite interviewed by Bob Gwynne

2017-09-18

Oral history interview with Margaret Willmot conducted and recorded by Dr Jonathan Aylen on 8 December 2016. Duration: 1 hour 2 minutes 28 seconds. The interview focuses on Margaret Willmot’s experience as a junior programmer on TOPS (Total Operations Processing System) at British Rail. Start of railway career, TOPS (Total Operations Processing System), education, computing degree, job application; [00:03:23] British Rail induction, COBOL programming language, computing people vs railway people career approach; BR computer centres, machine types; work on TOPS at Blandford House, gender stereotypes, work on TOPSTRANS; [00:07:30] programming language in TOPSTRANS, assembler based macro language, how it worked, [00:14:23], computer core memory, data storage on magnetic tapes; TOPS customed built equipment, operating system; [00:18:30] disc drives vs tape drives, online vs offline processing; [00:20:00] TOPS wagons team, coding applications related to wagons, how coding was done, equipment used, punch cards, tele-type, team reaction to online machine, typing cards, programmers and typists, typing error example; [00:23:35] writing new enquiry for commodity code, modifying existing code, American code vs British Rail code, STANOX, TOPS Responsibility Areas (TRA), end of punch cards; [00:26:05] ventek cards 96 columns punch cards vs 80 column cards, no use of paper tape on TOPS; [00:29:51] enquiry for commodity code, security in TOPS; safety, preventative maintenance of wagons in TOPS, ‘cripples’ wagon; [00:32:20] TOPS wagon team, colleagues, organisation, way of working, hard coding, complexity of wagon movements in Scunthorpe area; [00:36:05] modification to original American TOPS for use by British Rail, example of obsolete codes for United Kingdom application; TOPS telecommunication, BR private phone lines; [00:41:10] British Rail choosing IBM over ICL; training on TOPSTRANS by Southern Pacific, relationship with Americans, helping with issues, BR staff visits to USA; interviewer discussing origin of TOPS; [00:46:20] example of computer crashing with application programme, technical issues and requirement, human errors rather than programme errors, example of issues with wagons, missing wagons, numbers painted on wagons; wagon audited against TOPS data; [00:55:00] working hours, office based work, junior position, reflections on experience on TOPS, camaraderie in TOPS team, TOPS experience useful in next job, if TOPS is still in use; date formatting in TOPS, space saving format; [00:59:30] leaving TOPS and British Railway, career after TOPS, San Francisco based computing company, revenue system for Eurotunnel; [01:01:00] further reflection on experience on TOPS [01:02:28] [end of interview]

Margaret Willmot interviewed by Jonathan Aylen

2016-12-08