Signal failure to recall facts

PUBLISHED: 11:51 17 August 2006 | UPDATED: 11:59 04 May 2010

I READ with interest the letter from Mr R Cornwall in the Ely Standard on August 10. I cannot even imagine that the station master at Black Bank would have allowed a lad of 14 to operate the signalbox during the signalman s call of nature. The toilet was

I READ with interest the letter from Mr R Cornwall in the Ely Standard on August 10. I cannot even imagine that the station master at Black Bank would have allowed a lad of 14 to operate the signalbox during the signalman's call of nature. The toilet was at the bottom of the steps and I would have thought that breaks between trains would have been sufficient to answer calls of nature, and Ron must have been a very busy boy to have carried out the job he has mentioned. It is a wonder anyone else was needed.

I was the rota lad, based at Ely around that time and my day for signal lamps was on Tuesdays for Black Bank.

Never in my time do I remember a signal lamp being blown out by gale force winds.

I continued my railway career as a signalman, relief signalman, finally reaching the position of special class relief signalman and then on to station inspector at Bury St Edmunds and later area inspector, which I held for the last 12 years of my career.

So I do know what I am talking about and if at any time I had heard of a 14-year-old lad working unofficially in a signalbox, there would have been real trouble and the signalman would have lost his job.

I doubt that Mr Cornwall knew what the bell code for a train entering section meant or more seriously if that had been followed by the code meaning 'stop and examine train'. I shudder to think what his reaction would have been.

I could go on, but I realise that space is restricted. However, I suggest that Mr Cornwall tries to recall his memories more accurately.

I am 84 years old and my memories of this time are still good. Thanks for giving me the names of the crossing keepers. I remember them well and the lady crossing keepers.

The signalmen have all now passed away, but one or two ladies are still with us.

GS SPENCER

Sandy's Crescent

Littleport

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