Object type
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


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


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


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


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


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)


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


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


Oral history interview with Hugh Fenwick, conducted and recorded by David Wharton-Street at the interviewee's home in North Yorkshire on 1 May 2018. Duration: 2 hr. 4 min. 42 sec. Early career; British Rail Civil Engineering Training Scheme; delegated responsibility and authority; secondment to Doncaster District Engineer 1977; development of Concrete Bridge Design (CBDES) computer programme; designing route for Selby Diversion; land purchase; Resident Engineer for Selby Diversion 1980; Outside Parties Bridge Section Regional Civil Engineer’s Office York 1984; ambitions; role and responsibilities of Works Engineer; East Coast Main Line (ECML) electrification; Organising for Quality (OfQ); changes due to sectorisation; Drawing Office Planning and Control System (DOPACS); renaming of Design Department to York Engineering Services (YES); Self-Accounting Unit (SAU); Leadership 5000; Quality Accreditation BS5750; transfer of civil engineering staff to sectors 1991-1992; employment of consultants; Total Business Management (TBM); re-organisation; realignment of YES; new industry structure; profits made from contracts with sectors; computer aided design (CAD); reporting lines; AD Little consultants; reaction of British Rail Infrastructure Services (BRIS); consideration of management buyout (MBO); working with Railtrack; British Rail Vendor Unit; becoming a limited company; Civil Engineering Design Group (CEDG) Ltd.; British Steel as owners of CEDG; Managing Director British Steel CEDG; success; bids; role; reflections on privatisation process; sectorisation; effects of privatisation; Railtrack/Network Rail issues; vertical integration; effect on personal life

Hugh Fenwick interviewed by David Wharton-Street


Oral history interview with Raymond Price conducted and recorded by Philip Benham in York on 2 August 2018. Duration: 4 hr. 59 min. 38 sec. Early career; Performance Manager King’s Cross; performance of Great Northern (GN) electrics following driver only operation (DOO) and industrial relations tensions; Area Operations Manager; Organising for Quality (OfQ); sectorisation; privatisation process and phasing; separation of track and trains; Railtrack senior management; Performance Manager West Anglia & Great Northern (WAGN); management down-sizing for privatisation; Railtrack signalling strike; track access agreements; Railtrack East Coast Main Line Route Rationalisation programme; Network Change provisions; preparation of WAGN for privatisation; limited productivity opportunities; WAGN driver re-structuring; trade union attitudes to privatisation; Associated Society of Locomotive Enginemen & Firemen (ASLEF); Rail Maritime & Transport Union (RMT); reasons for WAGN driver re-structuring failure; working on Heathrow Express project; recruitment to Railtrack; Michael Holden; train operating company (TOC) concerns about condition of infrastructure; appointment as Zone Director 1999; Winning is Green; West Anglia Route Modernisation scheme (WARM); relationships with TOC management; performance budget use; Rail Regulator as real Railtrack customer; Southall accident; Paddington accident; Ladbroke Grove accident; signals passed at danger (SPADs) management; Hatfield accident; gauge causing cracking (GCC); replacement of GCC rails; legacy of GCC on Railtrack; safety culture change; relationships with other bodies such as Health & Safety Executive (HSE); Managing Director (MD) Arriva Trains Northern (ATN); passenger transport executives (PTEs); franchise takeover; ATN driver shortage; relationship with Strategic Rail Authority (SRA); RMT conductors dispute; Class 333 issues; differences between Railtrack/Network Rail and TOCs; Northern timetable crisis 2018; successes of ATN; skills gap; Northern franchise shape; Managing Director Arriva Trains 2003; industry structure

Raymond Price interviewed by Philip Benham


Oral history interview with Prof. Roderick Muttram, conducted and recorded by David Maidment in the Fellows Room, Royal Academy of Engineering, Westminster, London on 6 March 2019. Duration: 1 hr. 20 min. 57 sec. Early career; Atomic Energy Authority; Chloride; Ferranti Instrumentation; headhunted for Railtrack 1993; Bob Reid; John Edmonds; solid state interlocking (SSI); Institute of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE); Clapham accident; sale of British Rail Research; post-Clapham consequences; British Rail Infrastructure Systems (BRIS) privatised; promotion of competition; privatisation of Railtrack 1996; Tom Winsor (Rail Regulator) new access rules; problems with West Coast Main Line (WCML) upgrade; Train Control System (TCS); shadowing David Rayner; Automatic Train Protection (ATP) systems; Clapham and Purley accidents; investigations into signals passed at danger (SPADS); Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS); signals passed at danger reduction and mitigation (SPADRAM); driver reminder appliance (DRA); development of TPWS; implementation of TPWS; European Train Control Systems (ETCS); Southall accident 1997; Ladbroke Grove accident 1999; safety cases; Richard Spoors; Ladbroke Grove signalling; European Rail Train Monitoring System (ERTMS); role of privatisation in Hatfield accident; response to Hatfield; train protection systems; Safety Integrity Levels (SILs); IEC 61508 Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-related Systems; Confidential Incident Reporting and Action System (CIRAS); Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB); Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB); Railtrack focus on safety; departure from Railtrack Group; RSSB; doubts about RSSB model; driver only operation (DOO)

Prof. Roderick Muttram interviewed by David Maidment