Fred Currah reminisces about his days working on the railway

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 19th August 2011 by Liam Physick

Fred Currah gives many memories of time on the railways. He mentions railway cottages, how workers would pocket slabs of coal, how the railway would sack those guilty of misconduct and of a fruit warehouse that once existed at Edge Hill

Interviewee: Fred Currah

Interviewee Gender: Male

Interview Transcript

Fred: There was a pub over here called the Roundhouse. Anyone mention that to you?

Jodie: I think . . . it sounds familiar, yeah.

Fred: By Wavertree, where the Wavertree Technology Park is.

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: Well, that’s where a lot of the staff used to go for a drink, all the shunters and (Jodie laughs) staff would go. Staff from here might have popped out, you know, because there used to be railway cottages where the bingo place is now, Matalan . . .

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: . . .  when I was a boy and I worked, they were railway cottages for railway workers . . .

Jodie: Oh, right.

Fred: . . . all the way along there, yeah.

Jodie: So, so, how many, was it, the people who lived in those, someone’s told us about the railway cottages before?

Fred: They’d get that free, you see, as a railway . . . to get on the railway, my uniform was part of me wages, my uniform was part of me, my free pass, I have a free pass and Christine has one . . .

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: . . . we can travel anywhere in the country, that’s part of your wages, you see.

Jodie: Yeah, they’re the benefits.

Fred: Your wage structure, the wages on BR were very low, you know . . .

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: . . . it’s better now because of private, but all that was part of your wages, you know . . .

Jodie: Right.

Fred: During the War, apparently, they used to be, at Edge Hill, they used to be big slabs of coal laying there everywhere, and they’d put it in their jacket, you know, and walk out with a big piece of coal! (both laugh)

Jodie: Oh, aye, yeah, we, we’ve heard about bits of coal going missing into people’s houses!

Fred: If you got caught, like, I mean, there was a case in the 70s where a driver and fireman had gone to Wigan, and we used to pick up a van at Wigan, and bring it into Lime Street, and what it was, it was all catalogue stuff, and they broke in, the van, you see, silly thing to do, they broke into the van and got bits and pieces out, but they were seen. When they, when they arrived at Lime Street, the railway police were waiting for them, so they, they were given the sack immediately.

Jodie: Oh, yeah.

Fred: That’s one thing the railway would not tolerate, they would not tolerate stealing, you were out right away.

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: Yeah.

Jodie: Of course, yeah.

Fred: Tony knows a, a porter at St. Helens Shaw Street station. He was, get the ticket money of course, he was keeping half for the railway, half for me, you know . . .

Jodie: Oh!

Fred: . . .  so he was found and given the sack immediately, and you’d go to prison as well, like, you know, I mean.

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: Yeah, so there is, there’s an awful lot of history round here, you can’t see it now, cos it’s grown over, but . . .

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: . . . it was a hive of industry over there, Wapping . . .

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: . . . and above there used to be what we used to call High Level, that was a, a fruit warehouse . . .

Jodie: Right.

Fred: . . . it come in by lorry, it come in by train, they’d bring the vans up, they’d unload the trains and go out on railway lorries to all the fruit shops (inaudible).

Jodie: Is that over on platform four, platform . . .?

Fred: No, further over.

Jodie: So past platform four, yeah?

Fred: Yeah, higher up it was, up there.

Jodie: Oh, right.

Fred: It was a shed.

Jodie: Yeah, cos there’s loads of space through there, isn’t there, and that’s all not . . .

Fred: Oh, that was all sidings, that, that was all sidings, that . . .

Jodie: . . . that’s unused now, it’s massive, massive space . . .

Fred: . . . it’s gone, it’s all gone . . .

Jodie: . . . space, yeah.

Fred: . . . yeah, yeah, oh, yes, it’s all gone.

Jodie: Yeah.

Fred: Yeah. Yeah, I used to park over there when I was in the stores.

Jodie: On that, on the . . . ?

Fred: There was a door on the end . . .

Jodie: . . . that approach, yeah.

Fred: . . . yeah, I had me own key to get in.

Tagged under: railway workers, british rail, railway cottages, coal, privatisation, fruit warehouse

Categorised under: Work & Industry

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By linda gott on 19th August 2014

hi cousin fred, great to find you on this site,would love to hear from you

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