This is an excellent email that I received recently from Ian Dudley, It is very well worth a read, there are lots of names and some great memories.........
BYGONE MEMORIES from IAN DUDLEY, LE MANS, FRANCE
First, a little about me, so you can see where my contribution comes from. I joined BR from school in September 1966, selling tickets at Dorking North – I lived just round the corner in Deepdene Vale. I was actually on a training scheme called the Railway Studentship, intended for kids with a couple of A Levels. The scheme made use of the student, in terms of putting us into a sequence of jobs for a period of a few months each – more work experience than anything, really – so we actually earned some sort of corn. My seven or so months at Dorking included a spell at the training school at Waterloo – in the last year of SWD steam, so that wasn’t bad news! I also met Trevor Burlinson, who worked opposite shifts to me, and then followed me on my next move. Amazingly, in 1994, when I was appointed Project Controller for the BRIS sale process, I sat in a desk at Board HQ vacated the previous Friday by Trevor! The other Essex House connection at Dorking North was John Hemsley, who used to do relief work in the office at weekends, and worked on the 5th Floor in Staff Relief as a day job.
In April 1967 I was moved into DMO Essex House, working in the Rules & General Section, on Floor 10, as you know. Head of Section was Vic Ovenden, but he had been taken on to special duties, so Gerald Summerfield was sitting in the boss’s seat. He subsequently went on to well-deserved greater things, being Area Manager at Cheam, perhaps, and going rather further, I think. His place at no 2 had been taken by Mike Ballard – who finished his career as Regional Industrial Safety Officer, I think. Other people in the section in 1967 included Jim Gibbons, who ran the engineering works notice production, but may have left for the SE during that year. He returned to Essex House in 1980 as the Divisional Movements Assistant. In the meantime he had been a station manager – Bellingham - then Operating Assistant for the SE. I followed him into that role. Jim retired in 1995, but only months later I met him in Birmingham, still very much in railway employment of some sort! Jim’s assistant in Rules in 1967 was John Buswell. Other Rules people were Richard Hunt, who had a rather different career, going into Finance in a big way, so that when the BRIS companies were set up in 1994, ready to be sold off, he was Finance Manager for the South Central ISU, based in Stephenson House, Cherry Orchard Road. Other names in the Rules section were Chief Inspector Jimmy Bull, John Smith, Colin Norton, Jim “Henry” Horwood, Brian Mockford, plus a sweet mature filing lady, Miss Robbins. Trevor Burlinson joined me there during that spring. Jo Phillips was senior typist, while we lower-end people had the services of a rather pretty young girl – was she Susan Stevens?
In late Summer 1967, I was whisked out of the Rules and down to After Sales, on floor 4. Here I found myself in a very different environment, with reading of newspapers an actual part of the daily task – we were to cut out and circulate rail-related matters. After Sales was part of the Freight business, so we monitored phones for Alec Maguire, Freight Sales Manager, and Tony Hatz, Divisional Commercial Manager. The staff consisted of John Graham, John White and Rene Downard. Poor John White had had a heart attack, so was off sick most of the time I was there. I think he returned to work in the Autumn, but may well have succumbed to a further attack not long after. Rene Downard, a cuddly lady in her 40s, had been widowed when her husband died in a fire at his work. A court case and compensation were much talked about. John Graham was a slightly over-the-top sort of guy, very gushing, but easy to work for. I am quite sure that in later years he suffered with mental health problems, having seen him in a very confused state in the post office beyond the station in the 70s. Alec Maguire’s office was also on Floor 4. He was new to the industry, in an era when the freight had largely slipped away, and desperate steps were being taken to get it back. He had a sales background, was suitably dynamic, and the industry lapped him up. I met him again in the 70s, by which time he was something like Commercial Manager for the LM London Division, and pulling out all the stops to generate traffic on the North London Line. He gave a very slick lecture to the 1973 BRB Management Trainees in the Railway School of Transport, Derby, and we recognised each other. Tony Hatz – his initials were A.P.E.! - got me running a lot of errands. These including re-registering his Triumph Herald Estate to his new number - APH1! The errands were beneficial, though, getting me into various offices at Waterloo and meeting a few senior folk. A lot better than reading the papers, I thought! I heard in the 70s that he had died in a car crash. Was it in APH1? I don’t know. He had arrived at Essex House as a straight swap for a Mr I. L Gray-Jones – and one was led to believe that the Central had got the raw end of the deal. Certainly Lloyd Gray Jones seemed well thought-of at Waterloo, as a senior in the freight business. After Sales acted as support for the three Divisional Freight Sales Centres, at Brighton, Redhill and on the 1st Floor at Essex House. This last was manned by Freight Sales Rep Jack Bowden and assistant Derry Seabrook. It used to be a standing joke that I would ask Jack “How’s business?” and he would reply “Like Show Business – there’s no business!”
My first sojourn at Essex House ended in November 1967, when I was sent off to Victoria AMO, then the Information Office, but then, in April 1968, to Redhill Control. They were a bit short of staff, so getting me in on the clerical tasks was sensible. I was lucky, and by the time we moved up to Room 19 Essex House in July 1969, I was a Controller on the new Area 4. Being in the right place at the right time has helped me on a number of occasions! I stayed in Control until 1973, when I was lucky enough to get onto the Management Training Scheme.
I’m not sure whether you want a list of Control staff. We lived a rather separate existence, although we were familiar with a number of people whose duties made them regular visitors to the office – in daylight hours only, of course! These included Ray Hide and Brian Candy from the freight side, Geoff Harris, Brian Read, John Titlow from Guards’ Rosters, Les Soper, John Hemsley and later Martin Starr-Jukes from Staff Relief, Roy Collingham – aka Doomwatch – from Pass General. Obviously the senior operators were regular visitors, especially approaching the 10.00 daily conference with Waterloo, for which an officer would sit in a special desk in Control. So Jack Jennings, Alf Archer, Len Austin, John Greenfield, Tony Bridger were regulars over the years. Our own Doug Tait, formerly Area 1 Controller, then DCC, went on to great things in the hierarchy, mostly after I left in 1973, though. I think he was AM at Streatham Hill for a while. Occasionally the Divisional Movements Manager himself would take the conference, typically after some major event, so a big gun needed to indicate CD was taking things seriously in getting things going again. These were Harold Roberts and then Les Singleton. On one such occasion, the Waterloo end of the conference was being led by Charlie Harrington, whose sarcasm got to Harold Roberts – “You’re not talking to me like that!” he said, put the phone key back, told the DCC that the Waterloo line was not to be answered, and left! Oops! Charlie Harrington met with a bizarre end. He and two senior colleagues had left Waterloo on a bright sunny day for a “meeting at the Board” during which Charlie collapsed and died. Unfortunately, the “meeting at the Board” was actually in the sunshine at Lords for a Test Match! I imagine some difficult explanations were needed from his surviving colleagues! Years later Les Singleton interviewed me for SM Bognor Regis – he specialised in giving the candidate a most uncomfortable rickety stool to sit on! I didn’t get the job. Talking to Frank Paterson about that a little while later, he smiled and said Bognor sounded like a “nice little number!”
My other connection with Essex House was through my wife, Deb, nee Miller. She joined Passenger General on Floor 3 in early 1974, staying for nearly year before she got a CO2 with S&T in Southern House. She worked with Simon Fleming, John Elliott (senior) and Roy Maymon, as well as Jill Roberts – later Hunt - Peter Croft and Keith Uren. Deb had taken over the junior job from Jim Collins. He went on to very major success in the industry, as PA to the Chairman and ultimately as MD of the Thameslink franchise before it was let. Very sound, very well thought-of. My wife didn’t do too badly, either! By the end of 1986 she was EG1, as Marketing Manager for Travellers Fare. I was still only MS4 at that stage! When TF did their management buyout at the end of ’88, she was one of the partners, but it all went wrong for her after that – she was the youngest of 10 partners, the only female, and now they were in the private sector, 10 partners was several too many, so she got out in mid-89. Didn’t make a penny out of the whole thing, really. Other people in Passenger General included Mike Edwards as chief, with David Hall as, I think, deputy. There was one unusual person – Len Cubitt, a blind typist, who stayed in the section, rather than being in the typing pool. Len had diabetes, which had brought on the blindness as he grew older. The last thing he remembered seeing was the 1969 Moon Walk on tv. His brother Les, also diabetic, was an excellent station inspector at West Croydon. There was also a young girl, Mary ?, and Marie Carden was there for a period. Her husband Bruce had been in the Control, but moved out and became a passenger rep. In the late 80s, by now working for Mike Edwards at Waterloo, Bruce became very disenchanted and eventually convinced the MO to make him permanently unfit. He and Marie were then set to move to Spain.
So, that’s the history, with a number of names chucked in as padding, but now I’ll try to list others who I recall, using your splendid floor model as a prompt.
The Ground Floor waiting list includes Tony Hobden, who was a staff office guy, so needs the 5th floor. Steven Saunders’s role in Essex House is not known to me, but he was later an ASM at Bexleyheath – before an armed robbery un-nerved him, and he went back into clerical work. Few of us have to face that sort of challenge at work, thank God! He subsequently worked for me in Planning at Waterloo in the mid-80s, and is a key player in the Railway Study Association, I think, having married Claire Wickes, who was for years secretary to that society. He may also be involved with the Institution of Railway Operators, but I may be wrong there. Peter Elkin must have been a Passenger General person, I think. He was at Waterloo in support of the 3 NSE Sub-Sectors in the late ‘80s, then seemed to be in House Management at Stephenson House, Croydon in the mid-90s. He used to pull pints at the Sportsman pub in Mogador, atop Reigate Hill. Simon Fleming is Passenger General, as noted above. He retired some years ago, but took a part-time job, and when Deb and I flew to Florida last year, he checked our passports in final embarkation at Gatwick!
Floor 1 – The canteen had a committee, I think. Dave Barfoot was a leading light. There was an Adrian ? who sometimes helped Amy on service when staff were short.
Floor 2 – well this is where confusion sets in, because Deb thought she worked on Floor 3! Names here include Tony Hagon, who became a trainee in 1972. One of the new trainees in each year would be elected Chairman of the Southern Railway Cadets, a harmless informal social group of management trainees with two or three events each year, mainly revolving around alcohol. The most formal of these was the Annual Dinner, typically held in the Grosvenor Hotel or similar venue. The GM of the day presided, but the Chairman ran the function, including making a speech and introducing the guest speaker. Mr Hagon covered everyone in acute embarrassment by taking the piss out of the guest speaker – the then Minister of Transport, name forgotten, who turned out to have very little sense of humour for this sort of thing! Tony left the industry not all that long afterwards. I wonder why! I succeeded Tony the next year, and merely made a series of humorous railway reminiscences which seemed to be just what was wanted. I walked on air afterwards – until the train home broke down!
Floor 3 - In my time Works were floor 10, next to us in Rules. I’ll deal with names here, though. John Brittin went on to be Deputy Works Officer for the SW, although as he worked for Frank Todman, I think, he was never allowed further west than Basingstoke! John was a most mild man, always very smartly dressed, but proved able to use colourful descriptions of the difficulties such a regime imposed! When Divisions disappeared in the 80s, John ended up as a project manager in Planning at Waterloo. Very sound. Works officer at CD in the 60s was Ralph Long, or perhaps he was head of section. The Works filing lady was one Maisie *****, who got in a right dither during the ’67 Israeli war, convinced that this was where life began, and now it was going to end! In Freight Rates Rodney Archer did quite well, being an SM in the Brighton area, then doing some sort of senior training role for the Region.
Floor 4 was my home for the three or so months in mid-late 1967. In Terminals and Cartage, your E.A.Jones was Eric. John Polwin was another senior, who then re-emerged as deputy Staff Officer at Beckenham in the mid-70s, eventually being house manager at Waterloo in the late 80s. Not sure I really remember him, but a Mr Crammer was the Terminals Officer, I think – he went on to be head of International Policy at the BRB. Steven Reay was another member of the terminals team. I think he emigrated to Australia in the late 60s, feeling undervalued by his bosses. Jim Wickens and I met again in 1997, when I was tasked with helping privatise the rump of the BR Property Board. Jim had been at British Transport Advertising, where he and my wife Deb had met in the late 70s, and his specialism had given him a role in BRPB. The 1997 Labour win stopped my task in its tracks. Road Transport was headed up by [name gone. He had a lunch mate, a Mr Channon, also MS1, I think – where in EH did he work, I wonder?] with Mike Edwards as the Special B No 2. Peter Lewis was the other member of staff, living in Brighton, and almost certainly gay – he would remark on details of men that quite escaped my notice! Sue Mundy – Mike’s wife – was their typist. The 4th floor – as well as After Sales as I noted above – also had an outpost of the staff office, possibly the Establishment Section, headed by one Buster Brown, with several luminaries including Cliff Green & John Buckland.
Floor 5 – Quite a lot of names should be here, but I can’t access many. Len Burnett was Training Assistant when I joined – did Don Varney take his place? Don went on to manage the London Travel Centres. Tom Nugent headed up either wages or salaried at one point. Other names include John Aaron, Jack Goodenough and Derrick Akehurst. Dickie Warner was there from the mid-60s, having come from Nine Elms loco, so I discovered recently on their website. Paybills were on Floor 5 until the early 70s, when they cluttered off to Brighton – was it Dicas House? Chap named Turner seemed to be the head of Paybills. Chap called Sinhah did travel facilities. There was a Mrs Michell, and later, two ladies who I met elsewhere - Patricia Mary Maloney and Virginia Ann Ragouzaridis, although her maiden name was Keay. She had married a mad Greek photographer, and regretted it, ending up married to a relief signalman on the SE, where she worked from about 1980. Also hereabouts, the typist for the training function was Florence Mascarenhas. Celia Hunt in your list was brother to Richard in Rules.
Floor 6 – I think there was a chap called Roland in the Despatch office, and I think the surnames Bashford and Stainsby fit there as well. Typing Pool looks suitably full of names.
Floor 7 – Never knew Mr Fox, but believe he was operating officer rather than DMM. His initials were D.W. and he died in 1963-4 I think, from lists I saw years ago. I think Francis Knight was Operating Officer when I joined – Jolly Jack Jennings replaced him, and shook things up a bit! On his initial tour of the Division, he spent time with a yard inspector at Brighton. After the walkround was over, he said to this chap “D’you know what you need? A good kick in the crutch!” Motivation, eh? Was there not a Frank Cheseman, staff officer in the G.A.Weeden era, who George took with him to the SW when he went over there?
Floor 8 – Not much to add to such a wealth of info already in place, but one name has been on my radar fairly recently – Gordon Dudman was in TOC Privatisation near me when I was busy selling BRIS. He is, or was very recently, Network Rail’s man on Schedule 8, key to track access and all that sort of stuff about which I know almost nothing! We must have shared an old railwaymen’s Xmas dinner in 2003, at the George in Southwark, my last such in the UK. Oh, and I did hear from Richard Sharp last year that the Goodge is in good form, living in Weston Super Mare and commuting daily to Swindon for NR. I am also in correspondence with John Chapman, with whom I was at school. For one who left school without an A level, he has done very, very, well. He has held very senior posts in Eurotunnel and the Office of Rail Regulation, and is now running a consultancy.
Floor 9 – D. O’Donnell was HOS Motive Power in 1967. Geoff Hawkins, aka WMOB, is now a driver, maybe at 3 Bridges, having performed a similar role on Blackpool Trams for a while! An old chum of my wife, we keep in contact. I’m sure there was a Tony Harrington in Passenger Rolling Stock. One day, a lift with him on the buttons started from the lobby, various folk having asked for their floor number. On arrival at Floor 9, a voice said “I wanted Floor 7!” “Then you should have asked!” was Tony’s reply. “D’you know who I am?” said Floor 7 man. ”No?” “I’m Mr Hatz!” “Congratulations!” said Tony and walked out!
Floor 10 – Finance – There was a chap in the late 60s called Alan ?, lived in Hastings. I next met him in 1973 as an announcer at Charing X. Julian Rueff is remarried into a railway family – late father-in-law Allan Barter was Traction Engineer for SED. Chief Inspector Mann in Rules must have followed Jimmy Bull – Mr Mann was at Brighton in my day. The Works list looks quite good, but John Elliott (junior) should be added. Summing up, you have a very good list to begin with, and I’ve only really added a few here and there, but more remain to be added in. I couldn’t find any reference to Productivity, yet that section existed, with a chap called John Tullett at the helm, I think. They came and measured us in the Control in about 1970, to everyone’s delight – we were very productive! In 1967 they employed a rather dishy lady called Judy Williamson, too. A building with 10 floors sees an awful lot of people, and an awful lot of changes in 20 years! I hope you find others who have the time and interest to help as I have tried to do. I bet some could do a lot better than me!
I did attend the re-union in 2002, and was pleased to find so many friendly faces. We moved here in 2004, and have yet to regret it! We are actually about 25 miles from Le Mans, but it’s about 40 mins leisurely drive to the Members’ car park. This last weekend was first scrutineering of all the cars for the 24 hr race. We wandered up and down the pitlane, seeing the world’s finest sportscars, and rubbing shoulders with entrants and drivers. The exclusivity surrounding Formula 1 has yet to reach sportscars, even at this top level. Sunday was the test day, where people check their general speed and so on. It is timed, but to no purpose, except bragging rights! So Audi and Peugeot were burning diesel in an attempt to out-psych the other! The petrol cars are all slower, of course. Deb takes lots of pics for the website at Club Arnage, and they should be posted by now, we hope. Nikons and zooms much in use!
It beats working for a living!
Have you read the BYGONE MEMORIES BYGONE MEMORIES from GORDON DUDMAN ?
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