First proper job with the CM&EE in the early 1970's

I served an apprenticeship in the Locomotive Works at Derby during which time I spent a few months in the C&W Works in between attending Derby Technical college to further my education.

I started as a trade apprentice but soon graduated to an Engineering Apprentice (formerly known as a Privilege Apprentice)  when we were given different coloured overalls and everyone then stopped speaking to us!

Following the announcement of my successful exam results I was re-deployed into the offices of the London Midland Region Chief Mechanical & Electrical Engineer’s HQ at Nelson Street, Derby in late 1970 where I went into the general drawing office – this was the standard route into the wider engineering posts on BR.

The work in the DO was varied and as well as drawing components, schemes etc I also found myself getting out and about.


At the time the extension of the OHLE up the WCML from Crewe to Glasgow was being planned and I enjoyed a summer of 1971 scouring the marshalling yards looking for the wagons formerly modified for use on the original electrification scheme of the 1960’s, which had subsequently disappeared back into the system. This was in the days before the TOPS tracking system so wagons could get lost for months. I well remember sitting on a bogie bolster wagon in Crewe Gresty Lane sidings eating my lunch one day in the sunshine, thinking ‘this is the life’. Similarly I travelled to Warrington Bank Quay, Crewe Basford Hall and a number of other locations.


Another drawing office job was to plan the installation of various facilities in connection with the electrification scheme at the former steam depot at Carlisle Upperby, deleting the locomotive ash pits on the original plans and substituting sand and gravel hoppers to feed the concrete mixing trains, storage areas for aggregate, cement, masts etc.

I also remember a visit to Liverpool Lime Street to assess the replacement of the hydraulic buffer stops there.

I also spent some time on the Electrical Equipment section working on the then new MENTOR overhead line monitoring coach which was based at St Andrews Goods Shed next to platform one at the south end of Derby station.

I later moved to the Plant & Machinery section where the work involved rail- mounted plant. One major job at the time was the conversion of steam breakdown cranes to diesel power.

ADB975091 known as MENTOR which was an acronym for Mobile Electrical Network Testing, Observation and Recording

BR Official

MENTOR stabled next to Nelson Street in St Andrews Goods Yard in the early 1970s. This view is looking south and the single story buildings in the left background are at the bottom of platform 1 and are still extant. the pantograph is a GEC cross arm which was introduced in the early 1970s

Pete Keen collection

St Andrews Goods Shed looking from the south was demolished in 1987 - MENTOR was stabled on the RHS of the shed next to platform 1

Mrs M Coxon

More pictures and pages will be added as time permits

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