Longsight Traction depot & a Long Lost Photo
Danny Heathcote attended the talk on “the Lost Railways of South Manchester” given by Roy Chapman at Chorlton Good Neighbours History group on 06-03-14. Here is a letter from Danny and an interesting photo to go with it
“Today’s lecture about the Lost Railways of South Manchester was very, very good. Like Roy, I am an ex-railwayman, who retired over 2 years ago.
I started on the railway, straight from school and became an apprentice fitter at Longsight E.T. Traction Depot <now Alstom Transport Service Manchester Traincare Centre>. I’m 64 now.
One day, while I was still an apprentice, there were 6 of us, a professional photographer came to the depot to take a photo of a class 82 electric locomotive lifted on the jacks. This was done. We ran out one of the bogies, attached chains to the electric motor, with the intention of lifting it out with a crane.
2 fitters were on the top as though preparing to do this. The photographer said, ”I want one more.” We apprentices all looked at each other, but no one moved. I did eventually and got up with the fitters. I stood there. The photographer said, ‘‘Well look as though though you’re doing something!” I picked up a big spanner. ”Hold it,” he said. Click. Done. I was 17 then.
That’s Danny on the right.
“Well, look as though you’re doing something!
the photographer said, ha, ha,ha!”
The caption on the photo reads:an electric locomotive undergoing treatment in the maintenance shed. If necessary the body is removed from the bogies and a new set of bogies is fitted. This leaves the old pair free to be serviced
For many years I never saw the results until a Longsight train driver brought in a train book he bought on the nearby market for his 5 year old grandson. He came in to the depot and went to show the picture to the yard inspector who he knew. He recognised the layout of the depot. The yard inspector who knew me, saw me in the picture. Both of them sought me out to show it to me. I asked if I could photocopy it. ”No, I’ll cut it out for you” said the driver. He did so and I had it plastisized. It’s in my lounge to this day. In later years, I worked on the Pendelino.
The chap with the beret on<in the photo> is Stan Greenhalgh (greenhouse we called him) And he’d learned his trade in the R.A.F. We, for devilment, used to get him talking sometimes, especially if he’d crept out for a pint, as we all did, about his time in the R.A.F. He had a habit of leaning against the wall on his elbow. We would engage him in conversation near an emergency button (it tripped out the 25,000v overhead wire in the event of an emergency). Without thinking, he’d do just that and…..all the claxons would howl, the overhead would trip out and he’d call us apprentices all the names under the Sun!!!
The other chap, Charlie Potts, what he didn’t know about electrical work, wasn’t worth knowing. He liked a pint though, in fact a bit more than that. He would, on occasions, take an apprentice out for a haircut to a nearby barbers. No funny business, just a visit to a pub after. Both Stan and Charlie were heavy smokers, it was the norm in those days to smoke, though I never did, but got cancer anyway. When I started on the railway, as the youngest apprentice at the time, it was my job to go to the canteen and get the toast, egg and bacon sandwiches and cigs for the men. Park Drive-2/6d ! There were a lot of people we’d all call friends, both in and out of work. In those days, the railway was a family and no matter what, we’d all work together to get the jobs out, even foreman if need be. It was a pleasure to go to work.It was easy also to get a brother or sister a job on the railway.
I was the only one ever in my family to work for the railway. My dads family were 3 generations of chimney sweeps. Then John Major, in the dying weeks of the Tory government, privatised the railway. That was the start of the end of the family. In came consultants, lots of managers and graphs, pie charts and wall charts. Then when Alstom took over, things got even worse.-even MORE managers. I keep in touch with those still working at that place but I’m glad I got out when I did