Ever since being a very young child I have liked to make things. I suppose it was my Fathers influence, himself a Master Carpenter and Joiner, time served in the family business of building contractors, started by my Great Grandfather ( It may have been Great Great Great Grandfather as my Uncle has now discovered bill heads suggesting establishment in 1817) in the east end of London, Bow to be precise where my Grandfather was born within the sound of the “bells”. With some of the Family moving to Rayleigh, Essex in the early 1920’s my Grandfather started a branch of the firm to which I joined and trained as a Carpenter & Joiner (City & Guilds apprenticeship served), as my Father’s apprentice in the Family firm.
I would often go with my Father to his workshop when very small and play with the wood shavings that seemed to cover everything , watch and probably drive him nuts with too many questions about what this and that does and “can I have a go”. Eventually I became old enough to have some tools of my own and use them, just like “Dad”. So my destiny was set, no pen pushing for me.
My Father was a keen aircraft enthusiast and made models in his youth. He taught me how to build kits properly, the way to clean up the parts, how to correct mistakes and best way to paint and apply transfers to Airfix and Frog plastic kits. Another favourite was Keil Kraft model aircraft, remember those? test flying in the local park. I also had the classic Tri-ang train set, this being added to on birthdays and Christmas time.
With the mix of both I happily built plastic wagons and the odd non – powered loco and buildings from Airfix and so started my interest in model railways.
Now as you well know when you get to your teens things change , in more ways than one, and along come the distractions, firstly, members of the opposite sex, well they will always be a distraction what ever age you are ( Hi liz,” love you darling, what ?, Yep do it in a minute Luv’ ” ) and secondly, well in my case, there was motorcycles.
From my mid teens to my early thirties, motorcycles took over my life, my social scene was all based around m/c clubs, but what I really liked to do was take the damn things to bits and re – build them. In time I was doing it properly, buying an old basket case restoring/ replacing parts, using it for a while and then moving on to the next one. Yep, I was a right old petrol ‘ead as they say.
This fizzled out in my thirties, what with losing a few friends on the road, lack of finances or I should say other priorities. My interest in railways had not disappeared for I did buy the odd magazine now and again and wandering through Smiths one day I came across MRJ magazine.
To cut a long story short, ( your saying he’s gone on enough already, I’ll bet ) I got involved with P4,going to Scaleforum regularly and for a few years I dabbled with building some loco’s and stock, even an attempt at starting a layout which didn’t amount too much. Then one weekend I went to a general model railway show, I think it was in Chatham and there was a 7mm scale layout, I don’t remember which, but it kept my attention with the shunting going on, long enough for me to decide, there and then, that it was 7mm scale for me. And it had to be Scale Seven, as I’d already realised the finer qualities of the P4 standards.
Now my railway interests have always leaned to the eastern side of the country, particularly the ex Great Eastern lines, probably something to do with the fact that not only was my home town of Rayleigh in Essex on the Shenfield to Southend Victoria branch, but I also realised that my Great Grandfathers building firm had premises, amongst others, in Iceland rd. which was the other side of the canal over looking Stratford Works of the old Great Eastern.
Steam had gone from the Southend Victoria line during 1956 and my main memories as a child are of the “Shenfield” stock EMU’s which had sliding doors much to our amusement as kid’s, as I got older I began to appreciate the types of stock that was running on the line with the diesel loco’s. A regular through my home town of Rayleigh was the cl15 BO-BO type on the parcels, and cl 31’s and later 37’s & 47’s on goods and excursion traffic. On trips into Southend Vic you would have seen the 03 0-6-0 diesel mech. at the coal concentration depot there.
One of my earliest memories is of around the age of three, confirmed by my parents, of a trip to Bath, Somerset from Rayleigh, Essex. This would be 1959 and we would have travelled to Liverpool St via Shenfield on the early electric sets, (steam on the Southend Vic. branch had finished in DEC.’56) I don’t remember any of that part of the journey, but what I do remember is having got off the train at Liverpool St. standing holding my Fathers hand , looking at a large loco, surrounded by steam. then being startled by the noise of a valve or drain cock being opened, which made me jump and on turning round to see a smaller, dark blue loco with red coupling rods move off up the platform away from the buffer stops. This I now know , as some of you will no doubt know, was one of two Liverpool St. station pilots, the Eastsidepilot 68619 to be precise.
I’m damn sure it was the Eastside pilot, a J69 0-6-0t, (there was a Westside pilot, an N7 0-6-2t), because the Southend trains always ran into the eastern side of the station , platforms 17 and 18, they still do I believe.
So now you know the reason for the title of my web site. www.eastsidepilot.com
Thanks for looking at my web blog, ATB Colin.