George Pitman Fireman 1942 by his wife Mrs Pitman

Memories related by his wife

George was employed by the Southern Railway from 6th January 1940 and retired from British Rail 31st December 1989.

We often have a laugh about this story which is just one of quite a few memories. My husband is now nearly 89 and the majority of his mates have passed on.

My husband, George Pitman, was a fireman on the ‘Billy’ about 1942. On one occasion, he and his driver were slowing down when they spotted a barrel floating towards the shore. It was full of beer and had been washed up by a cargo ship which had been blown up! It was impossible for them to do anything, so they reported it to the next four workmates, who promptly told the brewery, and were given 36 shillings for it by the brewery – but my husband and his mate never received a farthing, or even a pint!

George used to get down from his cab every day to help a lady get a pushchair onto the train with a youngster. One day she gave him a tip for his help – ten Players – it was almost the only tip he had received in 50 years, but he didn’t smoke!

In the winter, sacks of winkles would be loaded on to the train for delivery.

The railway was so close to the adjacent cornfields that sometimes in the summer the sparks would set light to the corn.

Also in the summer the train had two engines, one at each end; using slate and coal it was really hard work, but once they got Yorkshire Black coal, the engine went like the clappers! The holiday makers loved it.

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