Steam Locomotive Driving Experience (2002 style)

Phil and Jane Holness show you how it's done. Course Tutors - John and Duncan Stanton.

Our pupils arrive at the Museum at around 10 o'clock - be sure to wear old clothing 'cos you could get very dirty. First you will get a stern lecture from Uncle John all about the does and don'ts of steam locomotive driving - which are the hot bits, where to put the coal and water and above all how to keep all those lovely brass bits nice and shiny!

Then it's down to business - a locomotive must be kept well oiled - like our volunteers really! - "I know there's an oil hole here somewhere."

But before long you will be chuffing up and down the industrial railway, getting used to starting the train smoothly - remember the guard standing on the back has to stay there .. ! ..

... and, perhaps more importantly, learning how to stop the b***** thing after you've got it going! Concentration is the key here.

As soon as you've mastered the techniques of starting ... and stopping again ... which doesn't take long, it's out onto the main line for some serious railroading. Peter leaves Brockham with Phil Holness at the controls.

Phil floats the train down the gradient back into Brockham Station. You can tell he's enjoying himself.

Engines need water - so while the Museum passenger train does a trip to Amberley and back, the saddle tank is topped up.

But don't let it run up your arm Phil!

Now it's Jane's go. By this stage of the afternoon, levels of confidence are at their highest and even the instructor can relax a bit. Peter with Jane on the brake drifts down under the Ranger Bridge.

After a quick run-round, Jane opens the regulator and Peter steams back up the hill towards Brockham.

Finally if you've done really well you get to drive Polar Bear on a real passenger train - gently now - you don't want the passengers to know you only learnt to drive today! That would be embarrassing. (We don't want them to know either!)

The grin says it all - an enjoyable day and a job well done.

Gerry Cork & Amberley Working Museum - August 2002
Updated - August 2009
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