The Men In Suits!

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The Men In Suits!

Post by 34017 Ilfracombe on Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:45 pm

Yes, the men in suits, and fast cars. Our colonial friends, would take on any job; in those days. From Coal Stage right down to sweeping up, and disposing of the Clinker, and Smokebox ash. They would enter Nine Elms shed, dressed in suits, and change into overalls

Their mid - day lunch, consisted of boiled Kitty Kat, and as their lobby was only 2 doors along from ours. I recall the smell, as though it was yesterday. Any one else remember it? Evil or Very Mad
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Re: The Men In Suits!

Post by 35013 Blue Funnel on Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:01 pm

Hi, 34017 Ilfracombe, when I saw the heading I thought it was going to be about 'management' - but it was about something else altogether. There are quite a few things I remember about the 1960s in London. I came down from Leeds to Nine Elms and had to look for lodgings. The place to find them was on cards placed in the window at newsagents and the like. Most of the cards had things like 'no coloured', 'no blacks', 'no Irish', 'no pets' some had all of these. I ended up sharing my single room bed-sit with a young Anglo-Indian fireman who couldn't find digs at any price. His mum was Indian his dad in the British Army! I also found it very odd that there where black guys in almost every shit job on the railway - but somehow, despite the dire shortages, they never got on the footplate - only on the tube. Just a hint of that old 'institutional racism' maybe! Thing about DNA and the human genome project is that, well, it seems we all came out of Africa and - we're all the same race - the human race!
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Re: The Men In Suits!

Post by 35005CP on Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:01 pm

Surely these were called Cleaners? Before they hit the grade of footplate crew?

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Re: The Men In Suits!

Post by 35013 Blue Funnel on Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:59 pm

Hi admin,

not sure what you mean here. The black guys had jobs in the labouring grades - not the footplate line of promotion, so they wouldn't be cleaners. Cleaners did get some labouring jobs - this was usually considered a bonus because labourers pay was higher than that of cleaner. I myself did plenty of work on the ashpits at Farnley Jct, where I was a cleaner, alongside the black guys who were all in the 'labourer grade'. We had a couple of Jamaican lads as steam risers at Farnley - great guys and good company, to this day I'm a big fan of Jamaican music and have a fairly extensive collection - some great tunes and many with a train/railway connections, as with much of the african/american blues tradition!

I very nearly registered on this site as 'train to skaville'!

atb

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Re: The Men In Suits!

Post by 35005CP on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:55 am

Hi 35013 Blue Funnel,

I was going by from todays way/s on Preserved Lines and the fact that what has been said would be classed as a cleaner? Hence not on the footplate and ready for footplate duty! How things have changed!!

So what jobs did the Labourer Grade men have to contend with?? I see they were 'Steam Raisers' So I would imagine they knew alot about 'Lighting up' (Mid Gear, Cylinder Cocks, Regulator Shut, Enough Water in the boiler, Checking Fusibles and checking the stays for any leaks, Smokebox checks and clearing out any ash and clinker that may have accumilated?? List is endless... Be intrigued to see if they went from this Labourer Grade to Cleaner to Fireman??

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Re: The Men In Suits!

Post by 35013 Blue Funnel on Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:33 pm

There was no line of promotion from the labouring grades to the footplate. Steam Risers were just that, they didn't go off shed with an engine and had never been 'passed-out'. On shed the labourers did jobs such as ash pit cleaning, looking after the coal stage/tower, wash outs etc. I worked at 55C, 55A, 56A, 73A, and 70A and never ever did I meet a black, steam, footplateman. My travels round the network brought me into contact with footplatemen from Carlisle to Birmingham, Bournemouth and Salisbury to Newcastle, Burnley, Blackburn and Liverpool and none of them were black. It is my view, and I have spent a lot of hours of research in the NRM library, that there is a case to answer on the charge of institutional rascism with regard to footplate work on the 'steam' railway. I know things have changed now - and not a moment too soon.
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