Wednesday

MY MEMORIES OF TOTON by Paul Marshall

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My interest in Toton Sidings goes back to the 1950’s. My Grandfather Joseph Thomas Marshall (known to all as Tom) spent all of is working life at Toton, starting in the early 20’s as a cleaner then becoming a fireman and finally making driver grade. One of my earliest recollections is of standing with my grandfather very near Sawley Junction station (I must have been only 4 or 5 at the time) and of him pointing up to the railway bridge crossing over Tamworth Road and telling me that the Steam loco going over the bridge was one he often drove at work. The locomotive was a Meyer-Garratt articulated engine used by Toton to pull large freight trains. I remember being struck by the size of the steam loco, to me it seemed like a monster and I was very impressed at the thought of my grandfather driving it. I guess that was the start of my life long love affair with steam locomotives.
My grandparents lived on Wellington Street Long Eaton and from their house you could clearly see the sidings. I often stayed there at weekends and for longer periods during the summer holidays. I can remember watching the coal hopper lifting trucks up and tipping the contents out into waiting wagons and locos below, in those days the hopper seemed to be constantly in use.
On a few rare occasions I remember grandfather taking me with him to visit Toton sheds. I was always excited as I crossed the Erewash Canal and followed the path across the field to get to the sheds. My uncle Stanley Vernon was a copper smith there so we could pay him a visit if he was at work. The best part of the visit for me was visiting the engines sheds where there was always an abundance of steam locomotives being maintained.
Unfortunately my grandfather died when I was only seven in 1954 he was only 57 at the time so I didn’t get to know him very well, but I continued to stay at my grandmothers frequently and Toton was always a part of my visits.
I remember on summer days walking on the hills that overlooked the sidings and sitting for hours watching the diesel 0.6.0 shunters pushing the wagons up the hump and then seeing the wagons running down into there allotted sidings. Toton was a very busy place in those days.
I’m currently re-searching my family tree and my father who is now 87 has been recalling stories of his father’s time at Toton. He remembers the difficult days during the Second World War when Tom used to take ammunition trains to Liverpool docks and how perilous the journeys could be with enemy planes swooping down to attack them and how my grandmother used to shelter under the stairwell when German Bombers came calling, hoping to destroy Toton Sidings. After the war Tom spent a lot of the time driving the Garratt’s Loco’s delivering coal on the 126 mile journey between Toton and Brent near London. From what I’ve read the Garratts were not a popular engine with crews, they needed a lot of coal to keep up the steam and made life very difficult for the fireman who was kept constantly on the go. There were about 20 of these engines based at Toton and sometime in the 50’s they were all sold on the South African railways. My Father tells me that Tom was offered the opportunity to go with the engines along with other driver’s to train up drivers in S.A ,but declined the opportunity.

Life at Toton for drivers was not all about delivering freight though. My father tells me that Tom would also take over the controls of local passenger trains between Nottingham and Derby at the weekends when and if needed. My Father also recalls the time when his father and his fireman were sent to work on the Royal Train that was resting over night on a loop line near Sheet Stores just outside Sawley Junction Station. It was their responsibility to take over from the day crew and keep the steam up overnight so that the carriages and occupants were kept warm during the night.
My one regret is that I have no photographs of my grandfather from this time at Toton, I would also like to receive any copies photos of Toton taken during the period of the 30’s - 60’s when the sidings was in its golden period. If there is anyone that can pass on any other information regarding working life and times at Toton and where I could perhaps find more information of my grandfathers career records, I would be very pleased if you could get in touch with me through this website.
I myself went on to spend 20 years at BREL’s Carriage and Wagon depot in Derby before moving to Skegness where I am now happily retired. Looking at the pictures of Toton Sidings on the website makes me sad to see its decline from what I remember of it in my youth but I’m glad that it has continued even though in a much smaller capacity and still cling to the hope that sometime in the future Toton will once again be a major freight depot.

4 comments:

David Thompson said...

iYou will find the engines are Beyer-Garrets,I workrd at Toton after these locos but remember them as a boy.
Some of this is in a book I wrotecalled "Both sides of the fire"
Published by Finial publishing and available direct from me at david.thompson1187@ntlworld.com

Anonymous said...

I remeber the Royal Train being parked up over night on the loop near Trent station. I was a firmen at 18A in 1948 firing for passed fireman such as George Cohen, Dunkley, Horace Croot and of course the three shifts on the Jinty 3F's
John Wheatley

Anonymous said...

I served as a fireman at Toton 1962 to 1969 and remember the garrats as a boy.Also many stories about them from Drivers at the time. They were all withdrawn during the 1950s but were not sold to South Africa, all were broken up in this country as scrap.They were unpopular with loco crews due to there appetite for coal etc.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I served as a fireman at Toton 1962 to 1969 I too served as a cleaner then a fireman between that Time I wonder who you are and did I know you My Name is Dave Smith