Nostalgic photos are an express route to the past
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