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London & North Western Railway Society
LNWR Society Publications

LNWR Society Portfolio No. 6 - Recollections of Oxenholme

Portfolio no 12 Front page

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’. Whereas present-day 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.

Edward Talbot