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Graham Barlow

   I was a member of BWRE from about 1968 and a committee member (Assistant, then Treasurer proper) of NCTS from around 1971/2 until its demise in the early 80's.  I stopped going on trips around the Spring of 1977 when I got a job in Enfield and moved South.  I missed the camaraderie, but it was no longer practical. Besides, I had seen my last locomotive - D5188 (TO) - some time earlier on Bescot, the very last shed we visited on a car tour of the East & West Midlands with member friends.  They were though happy times and I often find myself singing songs we sang long into the night on overnight trips after the obligatory pub stop!

   Malcolm Littler was a character I remember well, quietly spoken and with a very dry sense of humour. He hailed from the Pelsall district of Walsall, well outside the usual member catchment areas, but a regular nonetheless.  Malcolm was a keen, and hunky, rugby union player. Like most of his brethren, he enjoyed his beer. He facilitated everyone checking the accuracy of their watches, since dead-on 12 noon on a Sunday he would shout 'They're Open!' in the vain hope we might have a pub stop somewhere before they closed again at 2. The only occasion I can remember having a lunchtime drink was on one of the August Bank Holiday week-end 3-day trips to the South West and South Wales, where we would have 2 nights in Cardiff.  On the middle day, when we were not as pressed for time, we had a session in a Working Men's Club somewhere in the valleys. Allan Fawcett 'blagged' our way in, no doubt using his affiliate membership of the Pigeon (Fanciers) Club in Barnoldswick, of which Dave Felton also boasted membership, despite living some miles away in Bury.

  'Brush' (Dave Lewis) always seemed to be in the money, he often got off the coach richer than when he got on, as he would invariably be the winner after a session of 'brag'. I was never stupid enough to play, since the frequency of him bellowing 'Come to Daddy' as he scooped the pool of cash towards him was more than enough deterrent! The 'Brush' nickname was appropriate on 3 fronts: His job, his hairstyle and his liking for Basil Brush, the ventriloquist's fox.

   Crewe Works visits with George as the guide were a long-standing feature, on a monthly basis. I used to get the first train from Manchester, a 'stopper' at 11.10, race around the 3 'sheds' (OK, North was a yard) before going to the Duke of Bridgewater for 2 or 3 pints of Double Diamond (it was that or Worthington E) and a couple of meat and potato pies with brown sauce. It was guaranteed there would be a crowd of NCTS in there. I would have been 16 on my first visit. It was a dump of a pub but there was a convivial atmosphere, great cheap pies and what we considered good beer in those days.  Besides, it was only 100 yards from Crewe Works' old entrance at the bottom of Mill Street. When the entrance changed to Victoria Avenue, a good mile to the West, you had to make sure you left early unless you'd cadged a lift. Some people would have booked through the club, at a slight premium, paying 25p as opposed to the 20p George would collect at the gate from the others. Where these 20p's went I know not. If they went into George's retirement fund then I hope he enjoyed it, as he was a wonderful friend to the club, and he never turned anyone away. When I think of it now, whilst appreciating there was no work going on there being Sunday, the H&S implications were eye-watering. I mean, there must often have been in excess of 100 people going round with just George in charge. Having said that, senior club officials did take it upon themselves to 'bring up the rear' etc. Upon his retirement, we held a 'leaving do' for George one lunchtime in the Duke. I can recall the club magazine saying 'Sandwiches will be provided jointly by the Society and Viva Transport Publications' the latter being Dave Felton's sideline.  The Works' Victoria Avenue entrance is nowadays no more either, forming the end of someone's garden on a new housing estate. The Duke is still there, though unrecognisable after refurbishment, and is the favourite haunt of Crewe's now large Polish community.

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