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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 97 - April 2007

This is - Andrew Bratton

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This is - Andrew Bratton - get beneath the skin of our Chairman

qn - How did you first get interested in railways?

Andrew - My interest in railways probably started when I was a few months old. My mother would put me outside in a pram and I could bear the sounds of heavy freights labouring up the bank to Winslow station where they would stop for water and invariably their safety valves would lift as they prepared to restart and whistle. The railway was in a deep cutting 150 yards from our house. I suspect I could not wait to see what was making all the noise. When I saw them close up they scared me; this is what probably cemented the interest. In addition to the sounds, sights, and smells, the other factor that appealed to me was the orderliness of the railways. Practically everything is predetermined, nothing is left to chance i.e. the trains have to follow the tracks, they cannot stray; in steam days the arrival of a train was preceded by the ringing of bells, the swishing of wires with the clank of the signal and the porter strolling out of his office and shouting to the passengers to remind them where they were. It was pure theatre. Most trains ran to their timetable and it was the unexpected that made train spotting most interesting.

qn - What was the funniest / most rewarding thing that has happened to you on the railway?

Andrew - On passing the 11 plus I elected to go to Bletchley School instead of the traditional Buckingham Latin School, so that I could travel to school everyday on the train from Winslow to Bletchley. It was a 15-minute journey in a 3 coach suburban train normally hauled by a Black 5. I had an hour to kill after school on Bletchley station before the 5.07 departure, or I might wait for the 5.20 push and pull (84002, 84004 or 41222) if the pegs were off on the main. It was 99.9% steam at that time. The highlight of that hour was seeing the school train arrive from Wolverton (Technical College students). This was formed of 2 suburban coaches hauled by a 2-6-4 tank and the school bullies had a field day. Quite often there would be a child's head wedged out of a window on the wrong side. (The passing of down expresses a few inches away must have been scaring. Satchels and ties would be hanging outside from the door handles. Other children would be tied to luggage racks by their shoelaces. Another group would all have their shoelaces tied together. Many would stagger up the steps minus their shoelaces and without their mandatory caps. I once found three of mine in lost property at school thanks to a p-way ganger. It often took the porters 10 minutes to free all the captives. For some reason the train used the up fast line, rather than the slow, so I often had the added pleasure of seeing the up Royal Scot with a Corro storming through following a signal check caused by the delay. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. (On the first day of the Summer Timetable the locomotive was always a rare Polmadie engine, does any reader know why?)

qn - What interests do you have outside of the railway?

Andrew - As an accountant in both private practice and in manufacturing industry keeping abreast of all the changes in the accounting, taxation and management techniques is very time consuming. Bringing up four children and with three grandchildren now living close by, my interests are somewhat dictated; however I am inclined to stop off at a preserved railway on our travels, despite the howls of protest by some! I have a large garden that needs constant attention, a small flock of Jacob's sheep to keep the grass down, and an old house that needs frequent maintenance. I also study the FT every day to try and make money on the Stock Exchange. For relaxation I enjoy nothing more than a visit to a country pub with my wife, regrettably other commitments often limit this to one evening a week. Without a hard working and understanding wife I couldn't find time for QRS.

qn - How did you become involved with Quainton?

Andrew - I moved from Winslow to London in 1962, which coincided with the rapid decline of steam on BR. I joined the London Railway Preservation Society some time in the 60's as an armchair member to indicate my support in their aim to preserve steam trains. I thought BR would donate them if there were enough support. (I also joined CAMRA. which did initiate change.) It was not until the LRPS bought their first plot of land at Quainton Road in 1969 that I did more than read their odd newsletter. I knew the station well as I used to cycle over from Winslow in the mid 50's and I had ancestral connections as my mother in her youth, used to travel from Grandborough to Brill to meet relatives and my father had lived at Verney Junction. I decided to pay a visit and got a warm reception from a team led by Ray Hedley. With my parents still living at Winslow I got into a routine of coming home at weekends and devoting considerable time at Quainton until I got married in 1974 and set up

qn - If you could change just one thing at the Centre what would it be?

Andrew - To stop Network Rail using the line though the Centre and for them to give it the Society. (We could have been operating the line for the past 30 years for the benefit of the public, but for some strange reason the authorities have always viewed rides for pleasure as not business to encourage; any pleasure must come at journey's end).

qn - What would be your perfect day?

Andrew - To spend a warm sunny day working out of doors with a small team restoring a wagon and going with them for a pint afterwards.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 2007 and so does not reflect events in the 7+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

This is - Andrew Bratton - Quainton News No. 97 - April 2007

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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