Roy Anscombe’s Father by Roy Anscombe

My father was born in 1908. He left school at 14, and worked in the surveyor’s dept of our local builder. He was encouraged to get a job with a pension, so applied to Southern Railways and got the job.

Later he spent five years trying to shoot German aeroplanes out of the sky.

After the war he returned to Southern Railways, working his way up the ladder. In about 1957 he was relief station master at Havant.

In the hot summer the Hayling Billy was stopped under the footbridge. Later that afternoon a schoolboy pointed out that the bridge was alight. Water put out the fire. My father measured the plank and asked for a carpenter from Woking depot to come and replace it. Not the correct way to go about it! The works manager came down to look at it and then the foreman came down, and then the carpenter came down with the plank. It was a case of ‘jobsworth’, and that was probably why the railways never ran at a profit.

It was not Dr Beeching who killed off the railways; it was the unions’ rail strike in 1955. All the trade that they had enjoyed over the years just disappeared, but being British we soon found alternative means to move people and goods.

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