One morning long ago

 One morning long ago, an 1854 class shunted the Old Yard at Farthing.  

The crew were slightly bored. Nothing much ever happened in the Old Yard. Just a handful of sidings.

A carman (sic) watched them roll by, perched on his trolley (Birmingham pattern). The carmen at Farthing were famous for not using reins. 

William Simmons was particularly skilled. Known as The Horse Whisperer, he worked without reins for 46 years and never had an accident. People did wonder why his rounds took so long. It turned out his whispers worked on women too.

On the other side of the tracks, lad porter Herbert Pocket was busy cleaning the lamps.  


Herbert had two goals in life: He wanted to drive locomotives, and he wanted to die like a hero.


He was last seen in the Congo in 1924, hanging off the tender of a runaway loco. They say he was smiling.

Meanwhile, porter Alfred Jingle watched the train draw closer.  The morning fog was thick as pea soup. He liked a good pea soup.

As the wagons rolled past, Alfred tried to avoid eye contact with Thomas Grig up in the lamp. They hadn’t spoken since the lardy cake argument. They’d been friends for years, but you have to draw a line somewhere.

Thomas, for his part, had other matters on his mind. A lamplighter for 26 years, he had so far scaled the lamps at Farthing 81.121 times.  He knew, because he counted. He counted, because secretly… 

…Thomas had an intense fear of heights.

When he finally retired, Thomas bought a one-storey cottage in Holme Fen, sawed the legs of all his furniture, and heaved a long sigh of relief.

The train rumbled on through the pointwork. The unsheeted Open carried a shipment of Empty Promises. A local MP would pick it up later.


Shunter John Redlaw changed the points to No. 3 siding.

Known as "The Phantom" he had a manner of appearing from nowhere exactly when needed, only to disappear again as soon as the job was done.

The loco propelled the wagons into the siding...

... towards the covered goods dock. 

Goods porter Samuel Slumkey watched the wagons approach. 

As a veteran of the Red River Rebellion, the Urabi Revolt and the Sikkim Expedition, Samuel had travelled to the ends of the earth.


It turned out, however, that the real edge of the world was right here in Farthing.


As the train came to a halt, the porters prepared to put in some heavy work.


Not Tom Roker though. Comfortably seated on his favourite barrow, he always found an excuse for not working. In fairness, whilst sat there thinking he invented a universal vaccine, a waterless crop, and an unlimited supply of clean energy. He never wrote it down though. He couldn’t be bothered. 

As the crew prepared to pull back, George Rouncewell said good morning. Not to the crew, but to the loco. He often spoke to the locos.


They all thought he was potty, but George had his reasons. He had worked ten years in the A shop in Swindon, before an errant bar of hot iron put a stop to it.


So these weren’t just locomotives, they were old friends.  He would even order pints for them at the pub. And drink it all. On their behalf, you understand.


Uncoupled, the loco backed away, leaving the wagons behind.


As they drove off, bunker first, the driver said: “Staff here seem quiet today”.


“Yep”, said the fireman, “Bit of a dull lot”.



PS: Most of the figures have been modified, some extensively. The captions are all true, only the facts have been changed.