The Extra Hour (…Conclusion)

If you haven’t already, please read my previous The Extra Hour posts first

Berrow looked across at Simms who appeared pale in the cab lights. I guess we’re both looking a bit peaky after that, he thought and flicked off the lights. “Handbrake off please.” He said and advanced the power to around 15% before releasing the train brakes. Now the moment of truth, would she pull away on that bank or would she slip or, worse, roll backwards? D211 edged slowly forwards – very slowly – but she kept her feet. Berrow put on a bit more power and the acceleration became more obvious. Slowly, and watching all the time for any sign of wheelslip he wound up the power until she was at 100% and climbing steadily. It was a long slow grind to the summit of Shap but they finally got there, cresting the climb at a sedate 20mph before accelerating briskly on the downslope beyond. It was downhill all the way from there to Carlisle but they wouldn’t make up much of the 40 or so minutes that they had lost.

‘Jock’ McKellar stood on the platform with his secondman, watching the sedate progress of the Glasgow Parcels as it ran in to Carlisle. There was a twinkle in his eye that spelt a good old fashioned ribbing for Berrow. As the train stopped he slowly approached the cab and waited for the errant crew to make their descent onto terra firma.

“Ye’re late Laddie – did ye stop off at Tebay for a pie and a pint?” “If only” replied Berrow, “I had an oil pressure warning halfway up Shap.” “I stopped and shut her down, checked for leaks in the engine room – nothing!” “Och, of course there was nothing – there’s nothing wrong with the machine – I can hear that for myself!” Jock turned his eye on Berrow’s secondman… “And you – young Simms is it? – I expect ye’ve a wee popsie in a farmhouse along the route that needed warming!” Simms flushed bright red at this and Berrow laid his hand gently on McKellar’s arm – “Jock come and have a quiet chat.”

They walked a short distance from the locomotive. “We were held up by soldiers Jock! I mean it – the army or some people pretending to be the army – halfway up Shap” The look on McKellar’s face was a picture as he digested this information – Berrow hurried on. “They put something or someone on my train and threatened me with the Official Secrets Act!”

“Good grief man” was all McKellar could say after that. “So what goes in the log Jock? – Soldiers or a nice little oil warning light?” “I ken what you mean John – I think I’ll check that engine room floor in case you missed a leak!” The two men shook hands. “She’s all yours Jock – take care of her, she’s a good ‘un – 515tons from a standing start on Shap!”

Postscript – This story as related to me by John Berrow took place in the early hours of 25th October 1964. On 14th October 1964 Kruschev was deposed in a bloodless coup by Brezhnev and Kosygin following the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. On 16th October Harold Wilson became Prime Minister of Britain after the Conservative government was rocked by the Profumo Scandal of 1963. On 23rd October a Soviet cargo vessel docked on the Clyde. A senior member of the British Government boarded the vessel on Sunday 25th October to meet with a senior Soviet Official. The vessel sailed on the following Monday. Details of the meeting have never been made public under the 30 year rule – presumably because they were deemed likely to cause “damage to the country’s image, national security or foreign relations”. At the time MI5 were investigating allegations from Soviet defector Anatoliy Golitsyn that Harold Wilson was a KGB agent.



  1. This is a cracking story, good job.

    Still owe you a coffee…

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