HARRY ROBINSON, METROPOLITAN STEAM DRIVER, 1921-2017
Former London Transport steam driver Harry Robinson passed away peacefully in his sleep on August 8 at the age of 96. He started work as an engine cleaner at Neasden London Transport steam shed in the spring of 1939, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both ticket collectors on the Metropolitan Railway. After passing out as a fireman, he was transferred to the other LT steam shed, Lillie Bridge near Earl’s Court, and during the Second World War was frequently called upon to work special trains to repair damage to infrastructure. In November 1940 he fired ‘A’ class 4-4-0T No. 23 (now preserved in the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden) to Sloane Square station, to clear up the debris from a bomb strike. He was, therefore, probably the last person alive to have worked on one of the original Metropolitan locomotives built in the 1860s. After the war he returned to Neasden, and in 1948 passed out as a driver, working the regular ballast trains with ‘E’ class 0-4-4Ts (including now-preserved No. L44 ‘Met 1’), ‘F’ class 0-6-2Ts and later ex-GWR pannier tanks. In 1966 he became ‘Charge Driver’, or foreman, at Neasden and retired in 1983. Former Neasden and Lillie Bridge fireman Kirk Martin, co-author of the book Red Panniers, said: “I visited Harry on numerous occasions and he was always ready with a story which he told with a twinkle in his eye and a great sense of humour, often at his own expense. He will be sadly missed by his family and friends.”
Harry Robinson on the footplate of London Transport pannier tank No. L99 at the Spa Valley Railway in April 2010.