Interview about life as a Bletchley railway worker and engine driver from 1935 onwards.
Bill Tew recalls starting work on the railways in London and describes his first job as an engine cleaner. He was lucky to be promoted to fireman by age 20 and become a driver before he was 25; this was partly due to the increase in work at Bletchley during the war. He describes the ‘ranking’ of drivers by seniority; recalls the process of learning to be a driver and remembers particular trips he took; he also recalls some of the serious accidents, including the fatal crash at Platform 3, Bletchley Station in 1939. He drove on the Euston route; not many drivers wanted to take this route. In his opinion, ‘we had all the scum of the earth as regards engines’ at Bletchley. He talks of the selection of Royal Train drivers; also of the use of a ‘pilotman’ towards the end of long-distance journeys where Bletchley driver did not know the whole route. Discussing changes to the railways, he mentions the move to to diesels and electric engines, and then discusses the Beeching cuts in the 1960s, commenting on the closure of the Oxford to Cambridge line: ‘that’s the worst thing he ever done, east to west, I mean we had no end of work’.