Photo: Harry Gardner
Item #: 14727
Signalman Cyril Peers is the man on duty in the photo.
Apparantly Cyril started off on the railway as a trainee signalman at Haigh Junction box in the 1960s & later worked his way around the wigan area signal boxes before ending up in wigan wallgate box.
(No doubt cyril has retired now, but im pretty sure that his son Chris is still working on the railway)
From what i remember Chris Peers was traincrew based at wallgate in the 80s.
I spent many happy hours with Cyril in the First Aid class at Wallgate/Springs Branch during the late eighties and through the nineties. If I had realised then that he had started at Haigh Jct. box on the Whelley line, I would have done an in-depth interview with him at the time!
Hi dave,no doubt then that you probably knew the other men who worked wallgate box around that time & if i remember rightly some of Cyrils fellow signalmen who worked wallgate around that time were.
Roy Dickinson,John Tilley John Dorrell,Steve Slack,(AKA Slacky)& Scott Mills to name a few.
Ring any bells mate? (some of them were reliefmen).
I myself sometimes trained wallgate box on my spare days as a GPR relief signalman but never signed for it because of a "gentlemens agreement" between signalmen.
I always enjoyed training wallgate box & Chatting with a mate face to face (instead of over the phone).
John tilley & Steve Slack were union reps too.
Hi Harry, Thanks for the reply, good to hear from another fellow railwayman. Unfortunately Cyril was the only "Bobby" who came to the First Aid class at Wigan during my time in the class - 1987 onwards until it folded in about 2004.
I was a member of the Overhead Line Electrification department staff based at Springs Branch depot then, rather than the Operating side of things. One of the many joys of working for BR at that time (as opposed to private rail now!) was the terrific sense of friendship and camaderie between all the various department's staff.
As itinerant gangs of staff covering the area between Acton Bridge in Cheshire to north of Carnforth in Lancashire, plus the Liverpool lines between Weaver Jct. and Liverpool Lime St station we were always grateful for the kindness of the signalmen at a number of boxes on the patch in always being willing to provide a kettle of hot water at the appropriate time so that we could partake of refreshment whilst off depot. We were perhaps, a rough and ready bunch really on the OHLD, although many of the lads had hearts of gold when you troubled to burrow beneath that sometimes gruff exterior. My answer to that would be simply, “well you try dodging trains at 110MPH and also getting your hands in the 25,000 volt rigging for a living and see how you would feel!”. I rather think that the fitting staff at The Branch regarded us as “untermenschen” due to many of the Overhead Line staff being not “time-served” like they themselves were. I am an Electric Controller nowadays based in Crewe, but look back to those days with great fondness now. Sadly one of the many casualties of the privatisation process was exactly this sort of friendship, sad to say, just as those who planned it intended it should be!
PS I thought the photo you put up of Chapel Lane crossing was absolutely stunning with that marvellous sunset.
I personally will always miss old mates & many of the "rough & ready",eccentric (yet still very professional) characters that used to be on BR & made it an absolute joy to work on,sadly privatisation does seem to have destroyed all the characters & the camaradarie between grades & departments that once existed.
I myself had enough of privatisation & surprised many people in 1998 when i just turned by back on it all & left "the railway" for pastures new.
To sum it up, I will always miss the railway that i joined, . But not the one that i left behind.
It didnt feel like my kind of railway anymore to be honest.
Were you ever based at ladywell house in preston with the OHL train after it left the branch??
Im pretty sure that we have spoken face to face but i cant place you.
Hi Harry, it's Chris Hewitt. Are you the same Harry Gardner that started as a carriage cleaner with me at Wigan Wallgate in 1990? Chris Peers is/was a Guards Manager at Wigan Wallgate last time I knew a couple of years ago.
Hi chris,yes i am the same harry gardner,ex carriage cleaner at wigan & later relief signalman etc.
How the devil are you after all these years????
Last thing i had heard you had become a driver & later a DTM.
Hows life treating you?.
Hello again Harry. I moved from an Overhead Linesman into the electrification training school at Springs Branch, as an electrification instructor, working alongside Arthur Hubbard in the December of 1990 until April 1998 when I transferred to Railtrack as a planning manager in their engineering planning dept. based at Rail House, Manchester.
After the cock-up of privatisation set in during 1995, we, as electrification instructors, were put under the Per-Way training organisation effectively, which was based in Ladywell House at that time. Consequently I did spend some time there working from time to time alongside one of your ex-Signalman colleagues from Barton & Broughton-John Wareing, Phil Taylor (no relation) and others, so it is possible we met, but I must confess your name doesn’t immediately ring any bells Harry; although in truth that is as likely to be due to my aging memory as anything else!
The OHL works train moved up to Dock street sidings adjacent to Ladywell House in 1999 due to persistent theft and associated damage whilst out-stationed at the Branch. Many of the OHL fittings were, and still are, copper or brass or their derivatives, and hence highly lucrative to the light-fingered!
Of course once the train-crew depot itself closed in late March 1992 after Bickershaw colliery closed; the locos themselves to haul the works train would have to travel up from Arpley anyway, and yet again the cohesiveness of the BR operation was destroyed to suit the “new order”. Alan Mason who is a close friend of mine, was the OHL train man who was based with the train at that time, and he transferred to Preston with the train at that time. What were you doing during your time at Ladywell House then?
Hi Dave,i was never based at ladywell house but i did get about the north west quite a lot in the mid 1990s as i was then employed by railtrack as an engineering liasion supervisor,doing the duties of PICOP/PICOW/PILOTMAN etc on the engineering jobs in the north west etc.
I occasionally had to go into preston powerbox (& other signal boxes)in connection with my duties & remember chatting with a guy off the OHL train who told me that he was from wigan too.
Perhaps that was you?
Hi Harry, I never made it into Preston PSB, normally the Ops dept. would carry out PICOP duties for us on the WCML; but did get into Warrington PSB a few times and some of the Liverpool Lines boxes, Speke Jct, Garston Jct, Ditton 1 & 2, Edge Hill etc, when carrying out PICOP/ES duties on a Saturday night with the works train. Could that perhaps be when and where we met?
Its certainly possible that i might have met you in & around warrington PSB & on merseyrail (or miseryrail as some lads called it).
Phil Shepherd & Tony Cook were two of the signalmen in warrington powerbox around the time that i was working around there.
A good mate of mine called David Buckley was one of the signalmen in garston junction box around that time too.
(sadly garston junction box was burned down a couple of years ago in a weekend arson attack).
I was based at manchester piccadilly (tower block)for a while & Ernie Miller,Dave Clough,& Roy Slater were on the possesion planning team in rail house,(no doubt that they have all moved on now).
If you ever fancy meeting up for beer & a chat,then let me know & i`ll gladly buy you a pint sometime.
Harry, still a DTM. I'm with Serco at the moment, homebased travelling around the country assessing a team of drivers on the Network Rail test trains. Not sure for how long, DBS are just about to take us over.
Good to hear from you Chris,do you still Live in wigan?.
Im Married to a wigan lass & still living in wigan,(pemberton).
What firm do you work for now?
Hello all I spoke to Cyril this afternoon at the monthly BTPF meeting at Wigan, I mentioned the photograph to him.
I became aware of the photo via a link on the signalbox website forum.The BTPF meetings are held at Morris St working mens club greenough St Wigan second thursday of every month 1400 hrs.
Hello again Harry,
Just finished a week of nights, so the old body clock has been catching up a bit and I have only just had the chance to look again at WW! I worked with both Cloughie and Eernie Miller at Manchester until they finished with the then Railtrack in Ernie's case and Network Rail in Cloughie's case. Would like very much to meet up and have a chat - beer or coffee sounds equally good. If you want to drop me a line to my own e-mail (attached above) we can arrange something. Thanks again Cheers, Dave
No, living in Runcorn. Married with a 10 month old girl. Currently working for Serco, but not sure of the future as EWS taken over our contract.
nice picture of mr peers crossing one over, from the loop to the up southport line.probably one of the wigan turnbacks.
Chris Peers is a Conductor Team manager (new railway speak for Guards Inspector) at Wallgate, and his younger brother Stuart Peers is a Driver, also at Wallgate.
Thanks for all the kind comments guys,i havent been in wallgate box for many years & i doubt that i`d recognise it inside these days since it had the frame ripped out & an NX panel fitted when the wallgate area got resignalled a few years ago.
Are you the same Harry that was in the signal box that got the windows put though that time by them vandals? That was around 1997/1998 wasn't it? I remember I drove you home that night!
any way how are you doing these days?? I'm not too far away from Pemberton, maybe we should meet for a drink some time?
You mention you went on to pastures new, what did you end up doing after leaving the railway? What are you upto these days?
Hi Raff,Blimey you are a blast from the past mate.
I remember you when you were an Operations Supervisor based at Bolton Trinity Street Station.
Yes it is me,i am the same guy that you gave that lift home to after being assaulted on duty all those years ago.
Will have to have a chat & or a beer sometime.
Good to hear from you.
Will have to sort something out soon.
Whats your email Raff?
Nice one mate, would be good to catch up. Send me an email sometime?
Look forward to hearing from you soon.
Hi Raff,I emailed you on the 11th march,hope it got to you ok.
I await your reply mate,hopefully we`ll have that pint soon.
Cyril is well retired now, but very healthy. In fact, he along George Clarke, David Stevens, and Horace Davies (themselves signalmen in the Wigan area) came to my home in Thornton Cleveleys a few months ago for a good ole' reunion.
To put the record straight Cyril followed Horace as my box lad in Wigan No 2 signal box in the early sixties. The two of them were very good at signalling, hence them both passing out as signalmen at an early age.
John Wright the box lad in residence when I transferred from Ditton No.1 signal box died at a very young age with lung problems, although he did pass out as a signalman and worked on the Whelley Line for a short time.
I was boxlad in Wallgate 1965 - 66 and worked with Jimmy Leigh, Richardson Brothers, Bram Cookson, Roy Dickinson etc before going on to taking over at Bickershaw Jc on my 18th birthday. Then Westhoughton Goods, Golborne Station & Junction then Westhampstead Midland.The through Station, Area and Regional Management to both BR and Railtrack Boards as Senior Safety Auditor before retiring from post of Head of Safety for the West Coast Main Line Route Modernisation. Anyone got a photo of westhoughton Goods Yard box I could include in my memoirs.