The 2nd January 1964 was a bleak day, and March yard a rather open and windswept place, but for me nothing could have been better. My cousin David (in the picture, wearing a trilby hat) had arranged a visit for me and my father, himself and a lucky train spotter, who attached himself to our party, but soon disappeared down a siding scribbling numbers in his book. Our visit was to the steam sheds; by 1964 there were plenty of diesels about too, but they did not interest us.
The photo shows me waving from the driver’s seat of 61157, a 4-6-0 B1 of the Antelope class which had been introduced in 1942. The designer was Edward Thompson. The concrete structure in the background is the coaling tower.
From my diary for 2 January 1964: To MARCH. Arrivedcirca 11 o’clock. The refreshment room is closed: run by a Scotsman who has been celebrating Hogmanay! David paid for his ticket at March instead of at Wymindham. We walk to the sheds, taking a false turning but arrive eventually. David getsmixed up with wage drawing railway employees. Suspicious glances. A B1 is on train heating duty, we go on the footplate. See Oliver Cromwell [Britannia] and a GER 0-6-0 tender engine.
We got into Norwich at 7 p.m in diesel railcar [DMU]. Saw a B1 in Norwich station waiting in Platform 1 at the head of the mail train.
What the picture cannot convey is that smell of cylinder oil and coal smoke, and the sound of steam as the driver slowly opened the regulator. Through the mist of that January day I can still hear the whistle of an engine in the distance. For mor about March’s railway history see http://www.localauthoritypublishing.co.uk/councils/march/railway.html
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