Memories of dining car days

THEN: Herding sheep along Goldsmith Avenue, Fratton. Picture: Robert James

NOSTALGIA: Where sheep may gently gaze: collie halts flock for picture

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I recently wrote about Roy Hayman, a former steward on dining cars on London to Portsmouth trains. It prompted Bob Floyd to drop me a line.

Bob started as a kitchen boy in the dining cars in 1955. He says that Roy was a true gentleman and the boys used to receive a shilling (5p) a trip in tips. On some days he went to London and back twice (four trips) and Roy used to give the boys two shillings (10p) a trip if it was a good day.

When the theatrical stars of the day were in town, the tips might increase to half-a-crown. Bob can remember Dickie Valentine, Ronnie Carroll and David Whitfield to name just a few of the stars that travelled down from London to appear at the Theatre Royal and Coliseum.

In the days before football hooliganism there were many ‘Pompey Specials’ to all parts of the country. To work on these one had to apply and Bob and Roy often got picked.

Extra supplies were added to the daily order and many, many sandwiches were made. Bob would then pass up and down the train selling the sandwiches and on arrival they would go off to the match. Roy would always make sure any profits were shared equally. A brilliant man.

One of the chefs on board the trains was Freddie Earl, who taught Bob so much about the job. Bob ended up as assistant cook before leaving the job.

If you worked on the dining cars and have photographs, please get in touch.