LNWR Society Portfolio No. 6 - Recollections of Oxenholme
Preface and Acknowledgements
When my book ‘An Illustrated History of LNWR Engines’
was published, I received a
number of letters from enthusiasts. Among them was one from W.L. Harris, who I
was soon to discover had made a lifelong study of LNWR engines. He is now over ninety
years of age, having been born in 1900, and once counted among his friends the late
Charles Williams of Crewe, the noted authority on the LNWR and its locomotives, as
well as many other enthusiasts of that period.
After a time, I was invited to visit him at his home and was fascinated by his
recollections of the great years of the LNWR when the
‘George the Fifths’ were new
on the line over Shap, of the engine-men and railway operations around Oxenholme,
and of the unusual workings during the First World War, particularly the special
Admiralty coal trains. I soon realised that they would be of great interest to other
enthusiasts also and were worth writing up in full.
This book is the result. In some respects the language has changed slightly since
he grew up but so far as possible the text is a faithful record of his own words as
he recounted his recollections to me. Similarly I have retained his terminology in
reference to the LNWR, as for example in the names of the various engine classes and
in his description of the carriage livery, ‘chocolate and cream’.
enthusiasts associate that phrase with the Great Western Railway, in the pre-grouping
era it was commonly taken as referring to the LNWR whose carriages were a dark
chocolate and a very pale cream, almost white.
Since that first invitation I have visited ‘John’ and
his charming wife Ada on numerous
occasions and have greatly enjoyed and appreciated their kind hospitality. I hope
readers will find his recollections as fascinating as I have and will obtain as much
pleasure from them as I have had in putting them on record.
Finally, I should like to thank all those who have helped in any way with the
production of this book, in particular E.W. Shuttleworth for printing some of the
pictures and providing others, and Richard D. Foster for the maps. The photographs are
individually credited except for those by unknown photographers from my own collection.
W.L. Harris himself took photographs and it is fortunate that some are
able to be included.