Recalling the last days of steam

A young John Gardner assisting his driver by filling up the loco tender with water at Basingstoke  in 1967
A young John Gardner assisting his driver by filling up the loco tender with water at Basingstoke in 1967
The telegram received by William Halls mother  still upsetting to read 78 years on.

NOSTALGIA WITH BOB HIND: Curse of the telegram: Dear Mrs Hall – your son is dead

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Many people think that when steam finished on the South Western, all the drivers and firemen were put in wardrobes and then another lot of men were taken out to drive electric and diesel trains.

Not so. On that last weekend of steam running, July 8/9, 1967, a few services were loco hauled and that was it. On Monday, July 10 everyone began work at local electric depots or moved to pastures new.

John Gardner, of Petersfield, was at Guildford loco depot and then moved to Woking to be a mixed traction driver.

After some years he’d had enough of driving and changed his career to become a guard at Fratton.

He looks back on his days on steam locos with pride.

‘Electrics were just not the same to me’ he says.

In this picture we see John at the water column at Basingstoke, assisting the driver filling up the tender.

It is late 1967 and the steam era has just a few weeks left to run.