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About Fiddlestick

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  1. Great photo Voldy. Look how sparking clean the glass is on 158. Imagine having worked at Tommy Ward's and being ordered to smash such splendid things to destruction ! Note the mirror arrangement on the trams, all they would show the driver would be other vehicles when they were almost in line with the very front of the tram, but then the trams didn't need to worry about affecting overtaking traffic or vehicles alongside, except on sharp bends. Where's that part hidden PD2 going if it's turning left ?
  2. I'm going back to the late 60's, early 70's here. Young-uns please note 'Lorries' (or 'Wagons') not 'Trucks' . The Woodhead Pass has seen many dramas over the years, a good few vehicles of all types, but mainly lorries, have gone over the steep side to their doom with many fatalities. The long-time rusting chassis of an eight wheeler ( 'eight legger ') could be clearly seen 60 foot down the drop until a few years ago. Returning from the Manchester side of the Pennines, before the M67 ( 'Motorway to Nowhere' ) was built, I would normally take the Mottram road up from Hyde rather than the Stalybridge road. On the way up Mottram Road there is a farm on the left, opposite the Hattersley council estate of Hindley and Brady notoriety. This farm was hit by a German V1 Flying Bomb in the war, one of a few launched from under the wings of Heinkel 111's over the North Sea from bases in Norway. At the top of that hill, by the Mottram cross roads and traffic lights, were two more things of interest; one was L.S.Lowry's house off to the left, the other was the amusing old cast sign on a facing wall, which is still there, pointing to the right and reading 'Broadbottom 1x1/2 miles ' Leaving those Mottram lights, you'd go down the hill ( Mottram Moor ) to the traffic light junction just before Hollingworth, where you'd have the choice of either turning right and returning over the Snake, or going straight ahead via the Woodhead ; few lorries chose the Snake due to its narrow twists and bends ( The origin of the 'Snake' name isn't what we thought either, see 'Snake Pass' on Wikipedia. ). Just to the left of these lights, by the Gun Inn, was a narrow lane with old cottages, in one lived Pat Phoenix, 'Elsie Tanner' of Coronation Street fame ( when it was worth watching !). Passing through Hollingworth to Tintwistle ( 'Tinsle' to the locals ), there used to be a shop-cum-transport cafe on the left , difficult parking, but a good 'caff '. I forget the old chap's name now, he was a big angling fan and was said to be 'living over the brush' with his lady who served at table. Continuing forward you would see the Woodhead electrics passing on the other side of the reservoirs, then climb on into the wind-swept wilds of the pass. No mobile phones back then, just a lone phone box in an emergency. Back in those days there was nothing like the amount of traffic which uses the route today, and so it was full steam home after leaving the built-up areas, unless..... unless you happened to get behind the two grey 8 wheeler ESC ( English Steel Corporation ) lorries which did two trips a day from ESC Hawke Street over to the ESC in Openshaw, Manchester. They were known for driving slowly, nose-to-tail all the way making it highly dangerous to attempt to overtake both on the narrow Pass. Nothing ahead of them as they crawled along, but a half mile of cursing drivers behind them. Given that your driving and rest hours had to be strictly adhered to, should you have just a short time left to get home, this could get you fined if you risked going over your hours. At the summit of the Pass there is a sign for ' The Pennine Way' ramblers' track which passes many aircraft wrecks, hell of a lot if you check up. Then, just before the Flouch junction, there was a shack-type cafe on the left which is still talked about today due to the eccentric owner. He had a sign outside reading ' No coaches, No Hikers No ....'.this that and the other, in fact everyone who he should be catering for. My steed was a too-modern-for-me 'Ergonomic' tilt-cab, Albion Clydesdale, I just missed the pre-motorways old timers which were far more interesting despite their draughty cabs, lack of heaters, crash gearboxes, no radios, no GPS etc..Most in those days, including BRS, had mates to help with loading / unloading, sheeting etc., but I did get over to Belgium once a fortnight on the BR ferries from Harwich to Zeebrugge. The four ferries in the fleet were named 'Norfolk'. 'Suffolk', 'Essex' and the newer 'Cambridge Ferry' which incidentally, in early 1970, carried the Woodhead electrics sold to the Dutch railways. All have long since been scrapped of course. I'll leave it there, hoping to attract more reminiscences ( or corrections !) from others who enjoyed the freedom of the road and being paid to see the splendours of Britain.......... and there were more than a few professional types who gave up their stressful and better paid careers for a life on the road ! Thanks.
  3. When I mentioned the picturesque aspects of the line, below is an official BR painting as hung in waiting rooms. There's a bit of artistic license used as the water didn't go quite so near to the track, but a stunning representation of nature and engineering. For anyone researching the line and its locos for the first time, you will notice that a main difference between the Co-Co's and the Bo-Bo's, apart from the number of axles, is that the Co-Co's had the red buffer bar fixed to the body, while on the Bo-Bo's they were part of the bogies. So much on the internet about them that I won't go on, but personal stories and anecdotes would add to all this if you have any. The aforementioned driver, Jack Marr, had loads of tales of the line. One loco, I think it was 'Electra' was, he said, known as 'The Killer' due to having struck more than one plate-layer, supposedly having come into a station one day with a severed head stuck on the buffer bar. Another was that his train broke down on that stretch in the picture one winter when the reservoir was frozen over, and the guard is supposed to have walked across the ice for some bottles to that pub which used to be there ( anyone remember its name ?). What a man ! Typical of the railwaymen of the time, he started as a steam fireman before becoming a steam driver, then was put on the Woodhead electrics from day one to the end and then on the London runs with diesels. When he died, his wife gave me his leather BR satchel and it was stuffed with technical papers which I couldn't begin to understand. A breed of working men long gone, but well remembered. Think I'll do one on my lorry driving days with tales of the Woodhead , B all else to do at my age !
  4. Thanks both. It just seems a monumental blunder to have such a great investment dismantled in such a short time. Don't know the economics, but hopefully it's 80 or so freight trains a day paid for the original outlay over those twenty odd years. As I mentioned groups campaigning for its re-opening as a railway, if you google 'Re-open the Woodhead Line.' you'll see their arguments and campaigns.
  5. Thanks ( fellow ) bus man. Although I can't remember the wedges on the first Atlanteans which I also drove, you show they also had them. Just wondering where they were kept as the luggage space wasn't great. I also can't remember the notices in the Atlantean cabs, but not doubting you, the memory plays tricks. However, the Atlanteans didn't need that other old cab notice of 'Don't rest your foot on the clutch pedal' as they didn't have one ! That other back-loader cab notice was a laugh, 'You are driving a covered top bus'. As a kid, watching the driver through the glass, I wondered what it meant, not surprising as the open toppers went ages before and I knew nothing about them at the time. A bit daft when you think about it, they must have had a pile of transfers to use up 40 years after they were necessary !
  6. 3rd. June 1954 saw the official opening of the newly electrified Manchester to Sheffield rail route through the new, double-width Woodhead tunnel which replaced the two original Victorian single bore tunnels at its side. Having had a neighbour who was a steam engine driver due to convert to the new electrics, he had taken us kids in his car, the first in the street, over the moors to see the progress of the wiring gantries being progressively erected. At the time we had no idea what the electric locos would look like, but going down Spital Hill en-route to Victoria station on the opening day, we got our first glimpse of one crossing the Wicker Arches and raced up the steps to the station ( and weren't there some steps !) to get a closer look. Wow, it beat our passion for both jet planes and the fictitious space ships in the Dan Dare comics ! Gleaming new in its all black livery with the early lion emblem of British Railways on its sides, we were enraptured, more so than when seeing the first of the super Roberts tramcars a few years before. You have to remember that kids in those pre-electronic gadget days were very transport and engineering orientated with their Dinky toys, Meccano sets, train spotting and wonderful comics like 'The Eagle' which had exploded views of trains, planes, ships etc.. not to mention going to the Norton Battle of Britain days and seeing the futuristic V bombers fly over, so it was a great event which gave pride in the British technology and engineering of the time. That same neighbour would later take us to the Darnall ( I think ?) sheds where he showed us inside one of the electrics, weren't our mates jealous ! As I can't recall seeing them, I don't know if the following is true or a railwaymens' joke, but there were said to be switches in the cab, one saying 'PANTS UP' and the other 'PANTS DOWN' referring to the compressed air mechanism which raised and lowered the pantographs ( collectors ) to the overhead cantenary, another was a switch saying ' 1/2" cock ' ! Can anyone verify ? The locos were of two types, Co-Co's and Bo-Bo's, the former having 3 x axles per bogie and used for express passenger service, and the latter with 2 x axles per bogie used for freight, all were built at Gorton 'Tank' ( don't ask ! ) in Manchester. In early 1970 with the alleged decline of passenger volumes, the Co-Co's were sold off to the Dutch railways and sent over on BR's 'Cambridge' ferry from Harwich to Zebrugge with the Bo-Bo's taking over the reduced passenger services until they ended fully, the Co-Co's running far more years with the Dutch than with BR, one of which has been returned and can be seen in the Manchester Industrial Museum. In July 1981 the whole system ended after just 27 years. Many argue that the decision was political and wrong, and still today there are groups campaigning for its re-opening. This is highly unlikely as BR sold the tunnels to the CEGB for, it is said, just £1 ! There have been plans to use the 'new' tunnel for a planned extension to the M67 motorway linking it to South Yorkshire, but this is still in mid-air. Like most great British industrial enterprises, the Woodhead line is now back to nature with the tracks removed and the tunnel fenced off. A cycle track now uses the former picturesque track bed alongside the Woodhead reservoirs and today's lads who would have found work on such railways are now stacking supermarket shelves, that's progress ! ( Don't I go on ? Most of this is available on the internet, but I've added memories from 62 years ago to give a personal perspective. Thanks for reading and please add your own memories. )
  7. Any staff ever have cause to use these and did they find any forgeries ? Not sure if they are they still in use today ?
  8. Most older back-loaders carried one of these under the stairs. It was a large, tri-angular block of wood with a metal handle and usually there was a separate wooden frame fixed to the floor to rest it in. The rule book probably explained how to place it beneath a back wheel as a precaution against hand-brake failure, but that was the rule book ! In all my time on STD in those days, I never saw one used, even on steep parking bays like Bridge Street. One Townhead driver I remember may have / should have used the wedge however, the chap who was always writing 'ROSPA' on the steering wheels ( Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents ) ! What was his name, anyone know ?
  9. Most older members will remember the revolutionary impact of television's re-appearance after the war, most sets being bought for the Coronation and after it. A memorable image for me was the BBC's TV Newsreel opening shot with the stirring 'Girl's in Grey' march by Charles Williams with the view of the famous Alexandra Palace TV mast with imaginary rings of transmission radiating from it and the words revolving around it. Looking at this bit of film of the opening shot, now available on You Tube, and still shots of the mast at the time, can anyone tell me if the outrigger arms are all horizontal or all at different angles as I've studied pictures for years and can't decide. The mast survives today, but the outriggers were removed long ago. It was a surprise to see ( an imitation of ) the mast featured in the David Tennant Doctor Who episode about the Coronation. Put the following in You Tube :- BBC Television Newsreel 1951 TV Comes To Alexandra Palace (1938) Salute to AP (Alexandra Palace) 1954
  10. That should have read 'already got' , not 'not already got'. It's all this modern terminology confusing my old brain....I wonder if old Tabby was 'gender neutral' , 'trans-gender' or one of the other 20 or so gender categories they've come up with ? Anyone else waiting for someone to invent a time machine that goes backwards only ?
  11. Remember those two fat women who used to sweep the inside roadways ? They were known as 'The Horses' I think. Don't know if I've already mentioned this somewhere, but in the Bar Mills someone had chalked on the side of a furnace " Oh Lord above, send down a dove with wings as sharp as razors, to cut the throats of all the blokes who cut the Bar Mills wages." Witty lot back then....the ' can't understand sarcasm' police would be down these days taking prints ! There was a large workshop dedicated to maintaining all the many clocks at ESC, they'd be out of a job now with modern clocks, you can pick up a decent wall clock in Wilkos for £2 these days, and yes, I know they're made by sweated labour in the Far East.......probably just down the road from where some of the ESC jobs and machinery went to ? Still, who needs a job-for-life apprenticeship with a good union, sports facilities, sick pay and the rest when these days grown men can get a zero-hours contract stacking shelves at Tesco's ( if the diversity quota system's not already got enough of that sweated labour that's packed up and moved here ).
  12. Worked for them in the late 1960's going all over Yorkshire maintaining pub cellar equipment. This Birmingham company's Sheffield branch was based on East Coast Road, just off Saville Street East, but all I can find now where I remember it being is a building described as an abandoned bottling plant which doesn't seem to fit the memory of the place. Anyone any info, photos or stories from the time ?
  13. Most people would make that assumption Hilldweller, it's a very odd residence entry.Thanks also Neddy, so him living on Petre Street wasn't just a rumour. Only saw him the once compering a great show around the early 80's at Blackpool's Grand theatre.
  14. Thanks Edmund. Can't quite make the birthplace out. It looks like "Jamaica. Kingston Resident." So the same neighbourhood ( Carwood Rd. Canada St. Kingston St. Jamaica St., all running into Petre St. ). I've had this trouble with other certificates where the handwriting is often illegible.