Ken Finch Driver (1942-1963) by Mavis Finch

Ken and Mavis both lived in Portsmouth at the time Ken was working on the Billy (he was a driver). Ken started working on the railways in 1947.
They married in 1954.

Ken was based at the Fratton, Portsmouth Depot. He remembers working long hours and shifts operating from midday to midnight and vice versa.

Between these times he could get called back and forth to work from Portsmouth to Brighton, Waterloo and Cardiff, but he liked working on the Hayling Billy as it was an easier route and a nice line to work on.

He remembers drinking up to 20 cups of tea a day, as at Fratton, Langstone and Havant you always got a ‘cuppa’.

The bridge was very good and sturdy; Ken said it was a shame they took it away. The marines failed to dismantle it. When it was windy the train felt as if it could topple off the track, but never did.

Ken remembers setting fire to the cornfields. He also remembers getting very dirty (so did his wife!)

Ken started his career on the train as a cleaner (cleaning the engine), then became a fireman (shovelling coal for the engine), and then progressed to driver. This took 15 years; there was no training as such, but the firemen were often allowed or asked to drive trains and this is how he learnt. He had a Rule Book; you did have to pass one third of the rule book and know a considerable amount about the engine.

Ken has a great memory of working on the last train home on a Sunday night when there were about 200 people left on the platform. One man was shouting ‘You cannot leave us all here’. They made sure everybody had been transported home and did a couple of extra journeys. Ken got paid overtime for this.

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