Nos­tal­gic pho­tos are an ex­press route to the past

Macclesfield Express - - CHARITY NEWS - EMMA CURRY

ARETIRED train driver has shared some fas­ci­nat­ing pic­tures of the rail­way in­dus­try in Mac­cles­field from time gone by.

Ron Prince, now 78, worked on the rail­ways at Mac­cles­field En­gine Sheds, which were based north of Hi­bel Road and to the west of the Silk Road.

The En­gine sheds – on the Mac­cles­field, Bolling­ton and Marple route – pro­vided ac­com­mo­da­tion for lo­co­mo­tives, with most de­pots hous­ing a com­bi­na­tion of pas­sen­ger, freight and shunt­ing lo­co­mo­tives.

Also known as mo­tive power de­pots or MPDS, they al­lowed re­pair and main­te­nance of the en­gines to be car­ried out, in­clud­ing re­fu­elling, replenishing wa­ter, lu­bri­cat­ing oil and dis­posal of ash.

Mr Prince, who now lives in Derby, started his 45-year ca­reer work­ing on the rail­ways in 1954, as a steam lo­co­mo­tive cleaner at Mac­cles­field en­gine sheds.

When he turned 16, he went on to be a foot­plate fire­man.

He worked on freight trains from Mac­cles­field un­til 1956 and lodged in the Bri­tish Rail­way en­gine men’s hos­tels at Farn­ley, re­turn­ing to Mac­cles­field the next day.

He said: “I was fir­ing the en­gines, it was heavy work for a lad that young.”

Ron was trans­ferred to Cam­den MPD in north Lon­don on loan, be­fore go­ing to Edge­ley in 1956 to work on heavy ex­press freight and pas­sen­ger trains all over the coun­try.

In 1959 he worked on trains from Stock­port and Manch­ester to Cam­den, be­fore mov­ing to Salt­ley in Birm­ing­ham and be­com­ing a train driver in 1962, at the age of 23.

He said: “This was a hard­work­ing link, work­ing heavy ex­press freight trains in the 1950s, lodg­ing at Lon­don and re­turn­ing the next day with steam lo­cos on the front.

“We spent six weeks out of eight lodg­ing and do­ing night work. It was hard work but en­joy­able at such a young age.”

Ron met his wife Elma while work­ing in Salt­ley and stayed there un­til 1968, when he moved back the Manch­ester area, driv­ing elec­tric trains on the West Coast Main Line and liv­ing in Tim­per­ley in Cheshire.

He and his wife went on to have two chil­dren – a son and a daugh­ter – and now have six grand­chil­dren.

In later life, Ron be­came a train crew in­spec­tor, be­fore re­tir­ing in 1998. His son Nick has fol­lowed in his foot­steps and is now a train driver him­self.

He said: “In my last years I worked at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions on the rail­way man­age­ment be­fore re­tir­ing here at Derby. I al­ways car­ried a cam­era.”

●● An ‘Aus­ter­ity’ loco at Mac­cles­field Hi­bel Road sid­ings in 1956. This was a Farn­ley Junc­tion Leeds lo­co­mo­tive which reg­u­larly worked the 03.56 Mac­cles­field to Leeds line with a Mac­cles­field crew; inset, Ron has happy mem­o­ries of his time on the trains

●● Mac­cles­field Cen­tral Sta­tion look­ing to­wards Manch­ester (above) and the Hi­bel Road sig­nal box, en­gine shed turntable and Hi­bel Road tun­nel to­wards Prestbury in 1954

●● Train driver Ron Prince at Bad­des­ley Col­liery Yard on the Kings­bury Branch in 1966

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