Monthly Archives: February 2014

An angel with a dirty face, Orton’s answer to Charlie Dimmock and the stations internal transport system

This weekend has been great fun, nice customers, plenty of trains and working with great people, what more could I ask for?

Saturday I had Paddy with me and Sunday I had Peter and his daughter Susan helping.

Saturday was the busiest of the two days, actually we were busier this weekend overall than we have been for a long time, with much needed cash coming on for the railway on both days.

But it’s not just helping customers and passengers in the station that’s important it’s the other inter-action and support that gives overall the customers a good visitor experience. So with this in mind I would like to highlight three people who this weekend helped things along. Two work at my station and one does not. Let’s start with the one who doesn’t.



Now this is Laura, I suppose you could call her a Jackie of all trades, except of course her name is Laura!

Normally she will be found as a guard and this weekend she was guard on the brake van rides on Saturday and on the main service on Sunday. Though she has been known to put on a mini skirt and sing into a microphone at our 1960’s event, and has in the past wielded a shovel on the footplate.

She is always pleasant, always has a smile and a friendly word for customers and other staff alike, and it’s rare that one of my passengers at least does not make a favourable comment about her whenever she is on duty, and this weekend was no exception.

She could best be described as a credit to the railway, she is smart, friendly & helpful every time she is on duty. Now the keen eyed amongst you will have noticed that she has a slightly dirty face in the picture, it was taken just after she had been involved in a slight trackside fire. See being a guard is not just waving flags and blowing whistles.



This is Rosemary, she maintains the gardens at Orton Mere and her work rate puts many people much younger than her to shame, (That includes me!). She travels a fair way to come and help and can also at times be found at Didcot on the heritage railway there.

Her patience with the garden is amazing and she occasionally is seen either on her hands and knees doing the plant beds, or perhaps be seen wielding a garden fork. She loves chatting to customers as well and somebody once described her as being like a cuddly little grannie, mind you the person was under ten years of age! I even forgive her for dragging mud into the station.

I once said to her that I hoped I would be as fit as she is when I reached her age, her response was. “You may well be with some serious exercise!” I did not pursue the subject, I know when I am beaten.

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Now this is the third of the trio, this is Peter or to be more accurate our internal transport system. With the temporary loss of platform one we have to get stuff over from platform two when it’s delivered on the train. This is how it’s done with Orton Mere’s own answer to a packhorse! It’s amazing what he will do for a bale of hay and some nuts.

Like Rosemary Peter is another who’s work rate bares no relation to his years. He is always keen to come down and help and some weekends with his daughter Susan runs the station whilst I have a day or weekend off. This is much appreciated by both myself and the wife.

There is no truth in the rumour that we are having a collection to buy him a trailer so we can shift more stock, I mean as if we would! Anyway it would give him too big a turning circle on the platform.

Now of course this weekend there were two real stars of the show and that’s the Standard Five and black Five locomotives that pulled services and did the brake van rides up the Fletton Branch. So here three pictures of those.

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The Standard Five (73050) is City of Peterborough and this weekend was her last outing before she has her ten year service and is stripped down for a major overhaul and repairs. It will be a few years before we see her running on the line again.

So there you have it, the stars and three of the people who help make the railway run and in their own ways help me have an easy life.

That ends a great weekend, that was enjoyable and hopefully profitable for the railway.

A weekend of two halves.

Well the two days that made up this weekend could not have been much more different.

Lets take Saturday.

It started off and stayed mainly dismal with everything from weak sunshine to intermittent heavy showers. Before first service the locomotive of the day came down light engine just to check the line was clear of any obstructions after the storms of the previous days.

I am pleased to say that as far as I am aware nothing was found. Here is a picture of it returning towards Wansford after checking the line to city centre.


We managed to catch it in a bit of rare sunshine.

The day was quiet both on and off the train, we could have made more profit at the station if I had chucked the money it cost me to get there into the till and stayed at home. Not shall we say a very memorable day and certainly not a record breaking one.

Now lets take Sunday.

The sun shone and people were out for a walk, we sold some tickets and we also did as expected in the shop.

As a contrast to yesterdays picture above here is a picture of last service today to Wansford.



The eagle eyed amongst you will spot Jason on the footplate behind the driver sticking his head out, there is I am informed no truth in the rumour that they get him to do that and then when he yawns he makes a good air brake. Joking aside Jason always looks like a pig in a puddle when he is on the footplate, and the more coal dust he has covering him the happier he seems.

So there you have it, two totally contrasting days, it’s just a shame we don’t get more of the Sunday weather and less of the Saturday, but there we are we must make the best of what we have on the day.

Next week sees a two day steam special event, the jury is out as to how successful it will be, it will as with any event, but especially a winter one depend so much on the weather. Hopefully it will be good and we will be successful in both visitor numbers and takings, but even more so in profit, because at the end of the day without profit there would be no railway.

Taking things lying down.

The sun shone today and we had the second day since new year with no rain.

The River Nene is nice and high and flowing fast, but did not give into the temptation of going to take some photographs.

Jason with me today, and it’s fair to say the day just flowed. Not exactly busy ticket wise but the shop picked up mid afternoon, just in time for us to pack up and go home after the last train.

Nice to see a few people about today who popped in to say hello for the first time since last year.

Running steam service today which people always like to see, it was the Black5.

Here it is first service back to Wansford, arriving at my platform 2.



The sun was shining most of the day and it was a nice day for photography. Talking of photography, just before last service some men and women came on platform one, made their way to the far end and then one of the men started taking some pictures of one of the females. Now funny enough this is quite common and can happen a few times during the year. But bearing in mind the station is actually private property, it’s always nice when they ask if it’s ok to do the pictures, and they offer to buy something. It is I believe called common manners.

Well I am sorry to say this group said nothing and the arrival of the last service was met by the chap sprawled across the platform taking pictures of the girl with her legs half in the air. Now people who know my station will confirm that blokes on their backs and girls with legs in the air is a sight normally confined to the hours of darkness and on one of the platform benches. Though in all fairness I should point out that the two today at least had all their clothes on, which is not normally the case with those who do this lying down stuff during the hours of darkness.

I had not got the heart to tell the chap today that he was lying under the road bridge which spans my station right where the pigeons normally leave their leftovers. I mean it’s not often a visitor will clean up the droppings from my platform in that area, so who was I to deny him his little bit of pleasure.

Oh the pleasures of a sunny day at Orton Mere.