A Good Read Mendips Engineman

Discussion in 'Book Corner' started by adrian, 15 April 2015.

  1. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad


    I've no doubt this book is on many peoples bookshelf as it is a classic. Rightly so and one of my favourites. It was given to me by a close friend of the family.

    The book is the tale of Peter Smiths time as a fireman on the S&D, interspersed with some great photo's from Ivo Peters.

    It is a highly entertaining read with various tales of runs over the S&D. A lot of details of what it was like to fire the loco's of the time, their foibles and strengths all told in an entertaining read.

    From stories of perseverence of running through Devonshire tunnel with a West Country Pacific which started to slip so they were on the floor boards with damp cloths over their mouths to avoid the heat and smoke. To many hilarious tales - the heavy coal usage of the unrebuilt pacific's catching out a Western Region pilot driver on the Pines Express, apparently 30 miles from Bournemouth "the fireman stepped out of the tender and ceremoniously put a shovelful of coal on the fire. "That's it then" he said "I've just swept out the tender". This bit of news caused quite a stir on the footplate". Crossing keepers looked after by crews, under cover of darkness who would kick out a few large lumps of coal for them while passing, until one time a fireman timed it wrong and "crossing keeper lost the back door of his house, a huge lump of coal wrenching it off it's hinges".

    Tales of unrebuilt pacific's catching fire - the inside valve chains would flick up oil into the cladding which would then catch fire. One fireman on the up "Pines" noticed smoke and fumes coming out of the casing on his side, after a while he decided that it had caught fire so he called over the driver to have a look. The drivers comment was "That's nothing you ought to see it on my side" at which point the fireman had a look out the drivers side to see flames pouring out of the casing. There's more to the story but I won't spoil the book.

    If you like this book there is also the follow up book "Footplate over the Mendips".
  2. Dikitriki

    Dikitriki Flying Squad

    This is indeed a superb and very entertaining book, whether one is primarily interested in the S&D or not.

    I would say that I found Mendips Engineman by far the better of the two books.

  3. TheSnapper

    TheSnapper Western Thunderer

    +1 with knobs on!

  4. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    Absolutely, the writing is first class and I have read and re-read my copy many times.

    The achievements and experiences described are truly heroic and parts of it will move you to tears.

    If you've not read it then you are very lucky, as reading it for the first time is a revelation.

  5. Scale7JB

    Scale7JB Western Thunderer

    If it's half as good as Saltley Firing Days, I'll have to get a copy..

  6. queensquare

    queensquare Western Thunderer

    Like others I've read and re-read my copies countless times. It was the follow up, Footplate over the Mendips which tells Donald Beale's story starting at Bath in 1919 which lead me to want to build Bath Queensquare in the 1920s.

  7. 76043

    76043 Western Thunderer

    I know this is an old post, but I read it last year and was enthralled, especially the Devonshire Tunnel account.

    I bought the new combined volume reprint, that came out last year from Crecy.

    Somerset & Dorset from the Footplate

    David B, michl080 and Dan Randall like this.