HARRY ROBIN­SON, MET­RO­POL­I­TAN STEAM DRIVER, 1921-2017

Steam Railway (UK) - - News | Focus -

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.”

KIRK MARTIN

Harry Robin­son on the foot­plate of Lon­don Trans­port pan­nier tank No. L99 at the Spa Val­ley Rail­way in April 2010.

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