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Veteran train engineer works on last major project
8:00am Thursday 29th March 2012 in Video
HE has worked on countless locomotives in a career on the railways spanning more than 60 years, writes Nick Duquemin.
Yesterday, 78-year-old veteran train engineer Gordon Reed was still hard at work at York’s National Railway Museum.
Mr Reed is fixing up the boiler of the City of Truro – reputedly the first locomotive to reach 100mph – as the museum prepares for its summer exhibition, Railfest.
He said: “It’s a lovely machine, a classic Victorian engineering machine. It epitomises the great days of the British Empire, that whole era.”
Mr Reed started work in 1949 as a 16-year-old apprentice at Darlington Locomotive Works. After National Service in the Royal Engineers, he returned to work on British Rail engines at Bishop Auckland, in County Durham. He stayed there until steam trains were withdrawn from use in the 1960s.
He said: “It was a watershed for me. I’d been on the railways since I left school, and I had to decide whether to change jobs or stay on the railway.
“But I decided to stay. My background was railways, that had been my ambition as a young man. I could have gone to one of the big engineering companies, but I decided to transfer on to the railway track - it’s a way of life.”
He spent the second half of his career overseeing major track projects across the country.
Since retiring, he has worked for 25 years as a volunteer at the museum – and still climbs inside the engines to work in the “firebox”, the space inside the locomotive where a fireman would shovel coal.
But after working on more than a dozen trains for the NRM, including Flying Scotsman, – he has decided the City of Truro will be his last major project.
He said: “I’m going to carry on with examination and guidance, but I’m finishing doing the heavier work - it’s really a young man’s job. It’s claustrophobic in the firebox - and getting in is a bit of an effort at times.”
The nine-day Railfest 2012, which will feature dozens of vehicles from the golden age of steam, opens at the National Railway Museum on June 2.