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TITLE
Early Reminiscences of the Black Isle Railway, by John Mackenzie (2 of 3)
EXTERNAL ID
PC_JOHN_MACKENZIE_A1
PLACENAME
Fortrose
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS: Rosemarkie
PERIOD
1930s
SOURCE
John Mackenzie
ASSET ID
29167
KEYWORDS
trains
steam trains
locomotives
Early Reminiscences of the Black Isle Railway, by John Mackenzie (2 of 3)

This photograph is of John Mackenzie as a young boy. John's father was one of the two Passed Firemen on the Black Isle Railway branch at Fortrose. At the time this photo was taken (1930s) John was living at Railway Terrace, Fortrose. In the text below, John remembers life on the Black Isle Railway. (Part 2)

'I remember Jock Innes, a surfaceman, who used to walk the whole branch every day but Sunday. He lived in a railway owned house at Avoch and in the morning walked from Avoch to Muir of Ord, carrying a bag of spare wooden keys and carrying his fore hammer over his shoulder, tapping in keys etc., as he went along. He then took the train to Fortrose, did his walk about there and then walked back to Avoch, thereby completing his inspection of the whole branch.

He had an unusual walking style, maybe caused by walking on the sleepers. His step length was governed by the sleeper spacing and perhaps because of that, every time he brought his right foot forward, his heels knocked together. This made a very distinctive, easily identified sound when he walked and it also wore out his boots in an unusual place.

I can remember a weed-killing train at Fortrose, hauled by Loch Ericht. The train consisted of a number of tanks and a guard's van in which the attendant permanent way gang travelled. I seem to remember that the tanks were fitted with short spray arms which extended, or opened out, to cover the width of the permanent way and which folded parallel with the solebars or could be telescoped in when not in use or when travelling alongside a platform or other restriction. The tanks were probably at one time used for conveying oil or tar.

There was an incident involving my brother. Somehow he fell between the train and the platform at Fortrose, just as the train was leaving. No one saw him fall and he had the presence of mind to get down on the ballast, and get under the platform overhang till the train pulled out. He emerged completely unscathed!

Living on the terrace gave many opportunities to get on the footplate. When Dad was on the late shift, and therefore on the later trains, school homework was always completed on time and I haunted the station to get a run to the turntable when the last train came in. On Saturdays and during the times of school holidays the runs could, and were, extended to take in shunting operations and these were thoroughly enjoyed. I soon got to be adept at relaying the signals of the shunter to the engine driver under a father's watchful eye. Later on, when a special goods train had to be run in an evening, shunting often took place after the afternoon passenger train arrived at Fortrose. Charlie Taylor would go for his tea and Dad would take over the driving. Then when Charlie came back Dad would have his break. The shunting continued with me relaying the signals from the shunter. I was having a ball!

It was during one of these shunting spells that I had my first experience of opening a regulator. Dad was having his break and Charlie Taylor asked if I wanted to move the engine. I didn't say no! The loco was 'Ben Avon' LMS number 14412, fitted with a steam reverser, so it was easy to put the engine into gear. I had to have a little help to move the regulator as it was a bit high for me to get full purchase, but what a thrill for a youngster.'

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Early Reminiscences of the Black Isle Railway, by John Mackenzie (2 of 3)

ROSS: Rosemarkie

1930s

trains; steam trains; locomotives;

John Mackenzie

This photograph is of John Mackenzie as a young boy. John's father was one of the two Passed Firemen on the Black Isle Railway branch at Fortrose. At the time this photo was taken (1930s) John was living at Railway Terrace, Fortrose. In the text below, John remembers life on the Black Isle Railway. (Part 2)<br /> <br /> 'I remember Jock Innes, a surfaceman, who used to walk the whole branch every day but Sunday. He lived in a railway owned house at Avoch and in the morning walked from Avoch to Muir of Ord, carrying a bag of spare wooden keys and carrying his fore hammer over his shoulder, tapping in keys etc., as he went along. He then took the train to Fortrose, did his walk about there and then walked back to Avoch, thereby completing his inspection of the whole branch.<br /> <br /> He had an unusual walking style, maybe caused by walking on the sleepers. His step length was governed by the sleeper spacing and perhaps because of that, every time he brought his right foot forward, his heels knocked together. This made a very distinctive, easily identified sound when he walked and it also wore out his boots in an unusual place.<br /> <br /> I can remember a weed-killing train at Fortrose, hauled by Loch Ericht. The train consisted of a number of tanks and a guard's van in which the attendant permanent way gang travelled. I seem to remember that the tanks were fitted with short spray arms which extended, or opened out, to cover the width of the permanent way and which folded parallel with the solebars or could be telescoped in when not in use or when travelling alongside a platform or other restriction. The tanks were probably at one time used for conveying oil or tar.<br /> <br /> There was an incident involving my brother. Somehow he fell between the train and the platform at Fortrose, just as the train was leaving. No one saw him fall and he had the presence of mind to get down on the ballast, and get under the platform overhang till the train pulled out. He emerged completely unscathed!<br /> <br /> Living on the terrace gave many opportunities to get on the footplate. When Dad was on the late shift, and therefore on the later trains, school homework was always completed on time and I haunted the station to get a run to the turntable when the last train came in. On Saturdays and during the times of school holidays the runs could, and were, extended to take in shunting operations and these were thoroughly enjoyed. I soon got to be adept at relaying the signals of the shunter to the engine driver under a father's watchful eye. Later on, when a special goods train had to be run in an evening, shunting often took place after the afternoon passenger train arrived at Fortrose. Charlie Taylor would go for his tea and Dad would take over the driving. Then when Charlie came back Dad would have his break. The shunting continued with me relaying the signals from the shunter. I was having a ball!<br /> <br /> It was during one of these shunting spells that I had my first experience of opening a regulator. Dad was having his break and Charlie Taylor asked if I wanted to move the engine. I didn't say no! The loco was 'Ben Avon' LMS number 14412, fitted with a steam reverser, so it was easy to put the engine into gear. I had to have a little help to move the regulator as it was a bit high for me to get full purchase, but what a thrill for a youngster.'