Three Decades of Change on the Footplate

Lee Davies, a driver for CrossCountry, delivered an entertaining presentation on his 30-year career in the railway to our meeting in July. The journey started with Lee recounting his formative years growing up in West Kirby and his spotting haunts around the north west. His railway career started on the YTS (Youth Training Scheme) in 1984 at Liverpool Lime Street. Various duties including a stint in the booking office, saw him eventually taking up a role at Ellesmere Port in the freight yard.

What was a first for our Milton Keynes Branch meetings we were treated to the first of two cab ride films of the evening. Starting at Ellesmere Port, this was a ride aboard 47204 on 17th November 1987 to Birkenhead Cavendish Sidings to collect 6T86 on a Speedlink trip. Notable was that Merseyrail third rail electrification did not extend beyond Hooton and the line to the docks at Rock Ferry has long since succumbed to the advance of nature.

From driving 47s at Ellesmere Port, Lee moved to Tyne Yard in February 1990, learning all the routes covered. The second cab ride of the evening, this time aboard 37716, was joined at Ferryhill to Tyne Yard. This was footage filmed for a Channel 4 documentary on the Angel of the North which overlooks Tyne Yard. Again, a fascinating glimpse of the railway and how it has changed, this time since the early days of privatisation.

The latter part of Lee’s career included traction training on Class 67s and 221s before joining Virgin CrossCountry in July 2003. In his time with Virgin, Lee was back behind the controls of 47s on summer dated trains. He finished the evening recounting a memorable incident at York when he was driving a HST and inadvertently left his guard behind on the platform!

A very enjoyable evening with lots of anecdotes and memories from a varied and interesting career on the footplate.