Dialect – RIP ASLEF steam train driver Colin Forse pt.2

A steam train approaching station in the snow

“… he’ll wish he’d never been born.”

>>> Click here to download the MP3 <<< 
 128Kbps, 1hr, 53mb

The memoir of a railwayman whose career coincided with the whole period of nationalised railways (1948-1996). Colin Forse began as a lad on the Western Region at Yatton West Signal Box and progressed through being a fireman and driver to end up a traction inspector. He was glad to end his career riding on the footplate of steam locos running over the BR metals. 

A Life on the Railway: Colin Forse Remembers a World of Work That Has Gone Forever

In an informal chatty style he produces many anecdotes that shed light on a working life that has gone forever.

BCfm Tony Gosling’s extended interview with former Somerset train driver and ASLEF Shop Steward Colin Forse 03 Jan 2011

Steamy tales about life on the railway

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A YATTON man who spent his life working on the railways has written his memoirs in a book to help raise money for a restoration project at the village station.

Colin Forse, 76, has worked with Faith Moulin, also of Yatton, to put the book called A Life On The Railway, together.

Colin Forse has written his memoirs about life on the railway to raise money for the Yatton station restoration fund
The grandfather-of-six started working for British Rail on the Yatton west signal box at the age of 15 in January 1949.

A year later, aged 16, he moved on to work in the station engine shed at Yatton, cleaning steam engines which chugged their way up and down the Cheddar Valley Line and the former Clevedon line.

Working on the railway proved a real family affair as his dad Albert was a shed man and his brother Roger was a fireman at Yatton.

After a spell there, Colin moved to the Bath Road depot in Bristol where he worked as a fireman before joining the Army as a Royal Engineer.

His time in the forces was also spent on the railway, working in the Suez Canal base depot in Egypt.

In 1954 he left the Army and returned to the Bath Road depot before swapping jobs with a fellow fireman so he could return to his home village of Yatton.

By then trains were developing from steam to diesel, so he changed jobs again in 1985 and went back to Bristol as traction inspector before retiring in 1996.

Colin moved to Yatton in 1940 after his home in Hotwells, was bombed in World War II raids, and lives with his wife Verbena, 75, at Elborough Avenue.

He said:

I met some real characters during my time on the railways.
Someone said to me that I ought to write down my memoirs and over the years I have been putting them together.
I haven’t got any A-levels or anything like that, because I didn’t stay at school long enough, so it’s a potted history.
The book is not only about my work on the railways over the years, but about the people I worked with and there are some funny stories in there which should raise a few smiles.”

The book, edited by Mrs Moulin, goes on sale next week, priced at £5.95 and is available from Yatton Books and Prints.

The Cheddar Valley line was busy for nearly a century until closing in 1965 and it has since been reclaimed by nature and is now a nature reserve known as the Strawberry Line, managed to protect and enhance a rich variety of wildlife habitats.

Work began converting eight miles of the line to a walking and cycling route in 1983 by volunteers from the Cheddar Valley Walk Society.

All money raised from the sales will go towards a project to turn a disused waiting room, designed by Isambard Brunel, at Yatton station into the Strawberry Line Community Café.


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Dialect Radio was Bristol’s first weekly internet radio show which was originally webcast in 2002. It broadcasts a mixture of local human interest stories along with analysis of community issues from right to housing to radical history.

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