Steam & Railway Image Library - The Alan Ledger Collection

Picture of the Week: Calais
Picture of the Week: Calais

A group of us from work went over to France, our first visit to foreign shores in September 1968 following the end of British steam which had finished only a few months earlier. This was the nearest for us to travel, and before we discovered what was on offer in the rest of Europe. The first time was in the area around Calais and Boulogne to see the last of the K and G class Compound Pacifics (of which a picture will follow later of these wonderful machines, (they worked huge trains effortlessly) on the expresses between Calais and Amiens where electric traction took over for the rest of the journey to Paris, the Golden Arrow being one of them. They had now all finished by 1970 but as we were returning from our first visit to Spain we stopped off on our way home to see the last steam engines still running here which were American 141R 2-8-2s built after the second world war. The picture is of 141R22 standing at Calais Ville with a train from Boulogne waiting for the right away for the last leg of it’s journey to Calais maritime to connect with the ferries to Dover.

The younger of the two footplatemen at the cab door is the driver, firemen never got to be drivers in France. Drivers were promoted from the workshops as qualified engineers after serving as apprentices. Highly skilled they could dismantle a steam engine and put it back together again if need be. It came as a surprise to see older men firing to younger drivers. The goggles were standard kit for French loco-men and they really looked the part.

There could well have been a container hanging some where in the cab with a supply of wine for the day! at the time this photo was taken. Not the case now of course, well I hope not.
12th June 1970.


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