One of the main reasons for doing these web sites is to try and explain to everybody the history of the footplate grades, the conditions they had to work in and the creation of the A.S.L.E.F. branches within the Brighton & Sussex area.

I am therefore very grateful for people sending me personal photos from their personal collection and for allowing me to display them on the web sites. But unfortunately what is missing, are the stories that accompany them. What I want to do is to try and remedy this by starting to record the remaining stories that are still out there, before they too are lost in the midst of time.

I have added some information about some of the drivers that I know and the comments that have already have been sent to me.

If you too have any stories about your own working life on the footplate, the people that you worked with and the conditions you had to work in please send me and I will post, on the web site.

If you are interested in helping me in capturing these stories by any means possible please let me know.

Click on the icon above for

the history of the Brighton Branch of ASLEF 

Click on the icon above for

the Brighton Motive Power Depot


J. BLISS ? A. HARRISON 1913, J. POLLING 1941 - 1950, E.G. WICKHAM 1951, R. WEEKS 1959, G. HOY 1999 - 2013 

P. LUONGO 2014?

The first Branch of A.S.L.E.F. to be founded on the Brighton Line, was at Battersea & Longhedge in 1887, it later 

changed it’s name to the Battersea Nos. 1 & 2 Branches, and then it finally became the Battersea Branch. It was not 

Depot Branch, but a Branch that covered the whole of the South London with a membership from depots of all the 

old companies (L.B.S.C.R., L.S.W.R., L.S.E.R. & L.C.D.R.) which later became the Southern Railway and later the 

Southern Region of British Railways. This was quite a common practice for a Branch to opened at one location and 

it members being located at other depots within their area, such was the case with the opening of the Horsham 

Branch in 1898, with it’s members being based at Littlehampton and Midhurst (and probably with some members at 

Three Bridges) depots. 

With the increase of interest amongst the Enginemen at various locations the membership started to rise slowly, with 

members leaving the all grades trade union, Associated Society of Railway Servants and joining their own dedicate 

Enginemen’s trade union, in some locations the entire branches of  the A.S.R.S. would transfer over to A.S.L.E.F.  

Other Enginemen (‘NONS’) who did not belong to any trade union also started to understand and realise the 

benefits of being a member of a dedicated trade union and supporting their fellow Enginemen within their depot and 

neighbouring depots. This was to become more apparent after the first national railway strike in 1911. As a result 

of the events that surrounded the 1911 railway strike, more Enginemen started to join the trade union, and the 

increase of new branches would start to be seen around the Brighton area and throughout the country. Even though 

there was increase of Enginemen joining A.S.L.E.F., there were still a minority of Enginemen who remain loyal to 

the A.S.R.S./N.U.R. (National Union of Railwaymen) and even a smaller minority of Enginemen not believing in the 

trade union movement and they would remain non trade unionist, even though there would have been much 

persuasion from their fellow Enginemen for them to become members.

The Battersea Branch was also responsible for the setting up of a number of Depot Branches such as the Nine Elms 

Branch. It is also known that members from Battersea Branch were present at the opening of the Newhaven Branch 

in 1912, and this was probably mirrored previously at the setting up of other Branches through out the Brighton 

Railway, whereby members from nearby Branches would go along support their fellow in Enginemen in the opening 

of their own Branch of A.S.L.E.F.

The Battersea Branch was also responsible for setting up a Supervisors Branch, as the Supervisory grades were 

made up of Enginemen being promoted from the Enginemen grades. 


MARCH 1888


Battersea, London, 

February 18th, 1888.

Dear Sir,—On February 12th, 1888, a meeting was held at The Two Brothers, Battersea, under the auspices of the A.S.L.E. & F. The room was comfartably filled, and a L.B. & S.C. driver was voted to the chair, and, after a few well chosen remarks, called upon the organising secretary, Mr. Ball to explain the objects and benefits of the Society, under whose auspices the meeting had been called. Mr. Ball then said he was very pleased to see such a meeting as the one before him, and by the time he had done he hoped to be able to show what benefits could be derived by the combination of  such a body as the enginemen and fireman of the United Kingdom. He also gave in detail the trial of Taylor and Davis, and as he told us of the great pains and trouble taken by the general secretary (Mr. Sunter), to see justice done to those members, it brought, forth shouts of applause, and his zeal was highly appreciated by all present. After Mr. Ball had done, five came forward and had their names enrolled, and several others promised to join at their earliest convenience.Several questions were asked and satisfactorily answered by the organising secretary, and with a vote of thanks to him, the chairman, and the representatives of the various London branches present, one of the most encouraging meetings of enginemen and firemen was brought to a close.

I remain, yours truly, J. B. 

(John Bliss)




PAGE 222

Battersea, London, 

July 19th, 1888.

Mr. Editor,
Sir,— On Sunday, July 1st, a general 
meeting of enginemen and firemen was held at the Two Brothers Inn, under the auspicies of the A. S. L. E. & F. , when Mr. C. E. Stretton, consulting engineer, and Mr. T. G. Sunter, general secretary of the Society, attended and addressed the meeting. The chairman of the branch presided, and after a few remarks asked Mr. Stretton to address the meeting. That gentleman then gave a very interesting address, he also alluded to his position as consulting engineer to the Society, and, expressed his pleasure at belonging to such an organisation, as in his opinion the travelling public were greatly indebted to enginemen and firemen for their safety. He also hoped to have the pleasure of again visiting this branch in the near future. After speaking for about thirty minutes he resumed his seat amidst applause. Mr.T.G. Sunter then gave a stirring address on the objects and benefits of the Society, and spoke of the progress the Society was making, which he felt sure was an augury that enginemen and firemen were beginning to realise the necessity of being of connected with an organisation composed of their class, and in response to his appeal to the non-members present to join our ranks, a number of enginemen and firemen gave in their names, one of them expressing an opinion that he felt sure from what he had heard that night that this Society was the one for enginemen and firemen. A vote of thanks was then given to the speakers, and the meeting was brought to a close.

I am, yours faithfully.

Branch Chairman



JULY 1907

The Organising Secretary, H. Parfitt, reported on the unruly – but ultimately successful –

 opening of the Bricklayer’s Arms branch ...

“The Redhill meeting brought a six weeks’ campaign to a close and I got home for Whitsuntide, but returned to the South-Eastern line again on May 2nd, to that district of London known as Bricklayers’ Arms, where the mere mention of the name of the Associated was formerly considered a sufficient justification for a black look, or even a period in Coventry.

When the eventful night arrived it brought with it friends from Battersea, New Cross, Orpington, Slades Green and Paddington. Mr Bliss (Battersea) presided. The first sign of disorder came from a person at the back of the hall, who interrupted a speaker by trying to make a megaphone of his hands, between which he bawled unmelodious sounds, with disastrous results to his reputation –vocal or otherwise – for, like Mr.Pape, if he hadn’t got a tear in his eye he certainly had “a catch in his voice”; the resultant sound, therefore, developed into something between the bleating of a sheep and the braying of an ass. A snapshot of him would have afforded endless amusement to his nearest relatives, but the sounds would have settled all the “postulants” at the Dogs’ Home, without recourse to the lethal chamber.

I then read a list of names for membership, which appeared to astonish the would-be obstructors. More names were added, and Bricklayers’ Arms Branch was declared open with 24 members.”


APRIL 1911

PAGE 181



The members of the above branches had their annual dinner at the Masonic Hall, Stanley's Restaurant, on Monday, March 6th, when a most enjoyable evening was spent. Our organizing secretary, Mr. Warwick, took the chair in the absence of Mr. Fox. The health of the chairman was submitted by Brother P. Turner and was received with musical honours. In reply the chairman said he hoped this dinner would be the means of increasing the members of our Society. Brother T. Higgins then proposed the toast : “Prosperity to the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen." Brother Stevenson, from Slade’s Green, in his response, said he heard the London and South Western railwaymen had made a stir in the right direction and he hoped they would continue to be active. (Hear, hear.) In their grievances the members would always have the assistance of Mr. Fox and the whole of the Executive Council. Brother A. Harrison proposed the toast of the London solicitor: " Mr. A. Tippetts." He said he had that evening received a wire from Mr. Tippetts, and he was sure all that night missed the fam liar face which had been in the chair at previous dinners, and assured them that although Mr. Tippetts was not present in person his mind was undoubtedly with them, and at the request of all present he had sent Mr. Tippetts a telegram wishing him health, wealth, and prosperity. The toast of “The Press” was proposed by Mr. H. Hancock, and amongst those who contributed to the harmony were Brothers F. Symonds, F. Atkinson, A. Philpot, G. Mannell, A.J. Reade, C. Deller, A.F. Densley, W. Suckling, and our old veteran the “Clapham Giant,” otherwise known as “Teddie.” Brother A. Finch gave some tasteful solos on a one stringed violin of his own construction. The programme was brought to a conclusion with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”





PAGE 532


 It is not often a report appears in the Journal from this branch, but that fact does not imply that we are not alive. At a meeting recently held it was decided to have an outing to Brighton, on October 8th, and seeing that business at times can be coupled with pleasure, it was also decided to take advantage of the occasion and hold a meeting there as well. All being arranged, we left Victoria by the 8.50 a.m., in two saloons which our locomotive outdoor superintendent had favoured us with, and arrived at Brighton up to time and in good spirits. We all made our way to the good old seashore and had our photographs taken. Lunch was afterwards served at the Grand Rink Restaurant, and as it is not often we have time, peace and comfort in taking our meals, we all did full justice to the good things provided and thoroughly enjoyed them as well. Having satisfied the inner man, we journeyed to the Drill Hall, Church Street, which we had been granted the use of for the meeting. This was a very successful part of our day's outing, as about 500 were present. After hearing speakers from members of both the Battersea and Brighton Branches, the following resolution was carried unanimously :—

" That this meeting expresses its appreciation at the united and determined stand made by our colleagues in the northern district at the call of their Executive Councils, in August last, against the many and varied grievances under which we have long been suffering, and further desire to assure them that we pledge our support in any action the Joint Executive Council may decide in future.” 

After the usual votes of thanks, this meeting was brought to a close, after two hours and a half, which must have been interesting to everyone, as not one man left before time. Having again refreshed ourselves, We broke up into groups and had a stroll round the town, meeting again at the station to catch the 9.35 p.m., when all expressed themselves as having spent a very enjoyable day in sunny Brighton. The last business we had to conduct before we separated was to say farewell to one of our firemen, who was sailing for Australia the next day. I might mention that we have now to call upon our Executive Council to provide three of their special medallions, which proves that sometimes “ silence is golden,” as in this case 75 new members have been added to our ranks by three of our members.





PAGE 516


SIR, - Will you please insert in the Journal for the information of our members that at the meting of the conciliation board of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, Mr. A. Fox, General Secretary, was elected secretary of the board.







In connection with the above branch a dinner was held on January 9th, at the Queen Hotel, Robertson Street, to commemorate the concessions granted by the board of directors on October 16th last. Every credit is due %o our host for the excellent spread he put before us, and which, like we sometimes are ourselves, was ready up to time. The green flag having been waved, all present at once commenced to satisfy themselves. This being done, we all settled down to enjoy a musical evening. This was provided by the following artistes:—Messrs. G. Marmell, C. Lloyd, F. Atkinson, T. Harrison, A. Gallard, W. Potter, B. Smith, C. Friend, A. Pointer, W. Suckling, W. Sadler, W. Kitchingman, J. Satchwell, W. Baldwin, and " Fighting Mac," otherwise known as the "Clapham Giant," while one of our brethren from Slades Green, D. Hocking, also assisted. During the evening reports were given by the chairman of the depu- tation, Brother A. E. Harrison, and Brother J. Cordrey, delegate, which were much appreciated. The toast of the A.S.L.E. & F. was also proposed by our old friend, Brother J. Bliss, or, as he is sometimes called, the " Battersea Bishop," and seconded by Brother Warwick, organ- izing secretary. We had with us two of the delegates from Brighton, one of whom has done good work as corresponding secretary. At the close a hearty vote of thanks was given to them and likewise to our host. Will our members please note that our meetings are held every Friday at the Queen Hotel, Robertson Street, Battersea, and we hope ere long to again have a few evening similar to the above. Wishing one and all a Prosperous New Year, more concessions, and hoping to see the tail end bein put on our week’s holiday in 1913 is the wish of


(Bert)  A. E. Harrison

Seaford's first Branch Secretary 





Bro Bert Harrison (former Battersea Branch Secretary), motorman, Southern Railway, and his dog, which regularly takes his food to him on duty and takes home the basket.

The dog is almost as well known as Bert.

- - - - - - -  

Bert Harrison was one of the original motormen at the newly opened Seaford depot. 

On the 16th June, 1912, Bert travelled down from Battersea, to attend the opening of the Newhaven Branch of A.S.L.E.F., this branch was opened by Organiser W. Warwick. The delegation also included a large number of A.S.L.E.F. members from the Brighton branch, and A.E. Marshall from the Eastbourne branch.


APRIL 1913

PAGE 185


Sir, - Brother F. North wishes me to thank the members of the Benevolent Fund for the sum of £38 which he has received, and hopes the members of our Society who do not belong to this Fund will see their way clear to join as soon as possible, for none know whose turn it will be next to meet with misfortune.






PAGE 428


An open meeting was held at the Battersea Town Hall on July 27th, and was largely attended. Mr. Arborne was in the chair, and speeches were delivered by Messrs. A. E. Harrison and J. Cordrey (Battersea), J. Enves (Brighton), G. R. Pullen (New Cross), A. Marshall (East- bourne), R. Atkinson (Neasden), and R. Spice (Peckham). This meeting was called to protest against the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway officials promot- ing other than locomotive drivers or firemen to motormen. Mr. A. E. Harrison explained that two from the traffic department were now acting as motormen who were not twenty-one years old, and were standing senior to men who had been in the company’s employ over fifteen years, and that out of fifty-two vacancies only eighteen had been filled by locomotive-men, and this had a serious effect on locomotive-men. Some drivers were being reduced to firemen, and in consequence they suffered a reduction of 2s. per day. This required consideration and a determination to prevent any further reductions when the extension now being proceeded with was completed. He also explained that most of these men were members of a trade union, and had so far departed from the principle of trade unionism as to learn motor-driving in their own time. Letters were read that had passed between our Head Office and Mr. Williams, general secretary of the N.U.R., and surprise was expressed that the actions of trade unionists in learning motoring in their own time, free of expense to the company, were not repudiated. Brother J. Cordrey, in his remarks, asked all present, if they did not know any particular part of the road, was it likely that they would be prepared to ride on the engine in their own time? He maintained it was the same thing. He likewise stated these men were stealing from us the front of the the train, which was ours by right. Theother speakers enlightened those present of the grave position which might be caused by these traffic men continuing to be employed as motormen. Mr. J. Cordrey then moved the following resolu- tion, which was seconded by Mr. R. Atkinson, and carried unanimously:— " Seeing by the half-yearly report of the honourable board of directors to the shareholders that the electric traction is to be extended very considerably in the near future, and taking into consideration the serious results likely to accrue to the enginemen, owing to the electric traction taking the place of steam power and subsequent displacement of locomotive- men, the men are of the opinion that in every vacancy occurring on the electric system it should be filled by a footplate- man ; and to allow this being put into practical operation, we suggest that any vacancy as motormen occurring on the electric system an approved driver be allowed to fill the position; and should the electrification be the means of displacing any senior men, they should be given work on the electric system at the maximum electric rate. This suggestion we consider would not in any way deplete the locomotive staff, as it would only be filling up vacancies from the men displaced. This would also make sure of the company always having a competent staff to deal with the electrification, who could at any time or for any reason be transferred to the electric system or vice versa." Questions were asked and answered satisfactorily. Among those present were some of the traffic motormen and leading members of the N.U.R. Battersea Branch. I was pleased to see that they thought the resolution a just one, as they did not oppose it or ask questions against it. A similar thing might occur when other companies' lines are electrified, and my advice to the locomotive-men is : Beware lest you have your job stolen from you with your eyes wide open by your so-called brothers in unity. The motto is : Join your own Society, otherwise your outlook for having charge of the front end of the train is endangered. Remember the electric fever is on all railways, and ere long good bye to our locomotives. So wake up is the advice of





PAGE 365


Since our Branch Reporter is now at Chichester, I take it upon myself to give a report, and take this opportunity to thank all these members who have paid up their arrears last quarter, and also those members who are now regularly attending the branch room. I can also report good progress, 31 new and re-joined members, and success in the L.D.C. Election, Bro. A. Murray and myself securing the two places left vacant by the transfer of Bros. R. Taylor and Mepham; and we shall do our best to justify the confidence placed in us. Thee are a good many outstanding complaints to remedy, and by the time this report is in print, we shall have had a meeting, and will be able to judge how far we have been successful with rearrangement and link working, shelter heating, the question of engine tools, guide lamps for shed roads before the long dark nights return, with possible air raids, and the provision of hand lamps. if we can get the Enginemen’s lobby roof repaired, it won’t be before time. The co-operation of the men is needed to make some of these things a success, if the company will do their part. To the younger element, I would remind them they have a contract with the company to be at work on time, every time you “do it in” you let one of your mates in for the turn, and he may be wanting to get done to time. So play the game, chaps, don’t expect all things to be done for you, if you are not prepared to do your share.

J. Polling

Branch Secretary





Our recent meetings have been full of interest lately; attendance has been a little better, but still room for more to support our new secretary (Jack Fox).

Items from Head office that have given helpful discussion include 1950 A.A.D. decision on wages, although the pension position is still uppermost in our members’ thoughts in these days of our Nationalised industry. Our L.D.C. nominations of official candidate were supported for the next term of office. Bro. Sands gave us report from L.D.C. and also joint meeting with Electrical Area L.D.C.

Bro. A. Stanton was elected as our delegate for 1951 A.A.D. Our Chairman and several members of the branch enjoyed recently a memorable short stay in Holland.

The Editor informed me that, owing to lack of space in the Locomotive Journal, I would not be able to have the opportunity to enlarge on this visit; will the party please note. One little act that was performed in visiting a cemetery near Arnham, in the village of Velp, to pay homage to one of our fraternity’s son’s grave us the gratification of carrying out his wish.

Now, brothers, keep the branch room interest going, and support our Society’s effort on our behalf; this is NEVER wasted.






At our December meeting, officers  for the forthcoming year were elected, also the Social Committee. L.D.C. nominations for 1951 were dealt with, Bro. c. Cocks, A. Stanton and R. Weeks being nominated.

The proposals of the R.E. re wages claim was read and  discussed. Deep concern was felt by the members present and Bro. Stanton, commenting on same, expressed the opinion that the conditions under which we were working were being retarded rather than advanced. He pointed out that if we were forced to accept these proposals we should have even less leisure time than we get at present.

The Chairman of the Social committee gave a short report on the progress of arrangements for  Reunion Dinner to be held on April 28 for retired members of the staff, who are going to be dined and entertained by the Social Committee.

All though there was a fairly good attendance at this meeting, we are not getting the support of the younger members, and the Branch again appeals to those members concerned to attend their Branch meetings, for which hearty welcome will be extended to new ideas or suggestions that these members may have.




MAY 1959

PAGE 170


On behalf of the Branch I wish to extend good wishes to all members for the future. It would be very gratified to see more of the younger members in attendance at branch meetings to make themselves heard. The correct information is at the Branch. All of the lack of interest cannot be placed on the young member; some of this responsibility must be shared by the older man, he should be the one to set an example.

At the present moment a lot is said about the L.D.C.’s but here again if any member has a complaint to make it should be brought to the Branch and dealt with in the proper manner.

a lighter side to our activities occurred recently when the Social Sections gave a New Year tea and entertainment to 150 children at the Brunswick House Club. A most enjoyable evening was had by all, and a vote of thanks must be extended to the Social Secretary (Bro. G. Bolt) and Committee, and also to our friends from Selhurst who helped to make this event so successful. We hope that the Social Section will receive full support from all at the Presentation Concert in September.




APRIL 1963



The New Year started with a marked improvement in our arrears, and we hope that things continue to improve in this respect.

Branch meetings have been fairly well attended; it seems that interest is growing, and this not before time, taking into consideration the vast amount of changes that are taking place amongst the Footplate grades.

A very pleasant evening was spent on 2 February, when the joint Social Section of Stewarts Lane and Victoria held a presentation at the Brunswick House Club to four retired members of Stewarts Lane Loco - Bros. W. Webb, A. Matters, S. King and W.C. Smith; unfortunately , Bros. King and Smith could not attend, due to indisposition. Bro. M.J. Renshaw made the presentation to those present. The final part of the presentation was to Bro. A. Bashford of Victoria; this was not an official act, but on behalf of his workmate Bro. Renshaw gave an envelope contains cash to Bro. Bashford. To all the retired members we wish a long and happy retirement.

The evening continued with dancing to the Thelma Hammond Band, and other entertainment was provided by Bro. Harris and His Boys. to all who helped to make this a pleasant evening, in spite of severe weather conditions, we extend thanks for their services.






Last January the “General” came along and opened the first meeting of the combined Battersea and Clapham Junction Branch. Reviewing the actives of members of the members and officers over the past year I think the venture has been a great success; this from most members’ point of view.

Chairman Bro. D. Carew had to resign office due to personal reasons; whilst his absence will be greatly felt at Brach Meetings, we are assured that our new Chairman, Bro. R. Lifford, will be able to encompass the duties without difficulty.

The Cons and Lapsed Members are still a headache, but it has been pleasing note that in the last few weeks the Officers are really getting results in this field. I must as Branch Secretary pay my sincere thanks to them for their endeavours.

We have had some very good Retirement Presentations, at which Bros. M. Renshaw and A Stanton have officiated. We have not yet had the pleasure of the company of the General or Assistant, but we hope this will be possible in the mot-too-distant futures.

The men who retire from the service of the B.R.B. and Society are deserving of every consideration that our social Section can give them.

R. Weeks

Victoria Mixed Traction 1982 Strike Badge



Thanks for further term

I WOULD like to offer my sincere thanks to all the members who voted for me to retain my position as National Organiser. There is much work to do as we strive to continually improve ASLEF’s organisation,

communication and negotiating abilities. It has always been my aim to provide the first-class union that our members deserve. I am grateful to you for the opportunity to work towards this end for a further five years.

Once again, many thanks.

Andy Reed 

National Organiser



Free travel not expensive for companies

LAST month it took me 6 and a half hours to drive to Manchester to visit family, sitting in traffic jams on the M25, M42 and M6. I grew increasingly irritated that, as a driver for Southern, I was forced to use my car. Unless I book months in advance with Virgin, the fares are far more than the cost of diesel. I am of course entitled to 75% off the standard open return - but as this is well over £200 it is no good to me and my family. use their boxes - so the cost to the TOCs to issue all drivers with boxes cannot be that high.

Bro Daniel Hogg

Battersea Branch




I REGULARLY travel up to Newcastle on my privilege pass – but when my wife comes with me, it’s cheaper to drive than take the train. Here’s a breakdown:

Two ‘privilege’ return tickets London to Newcastle: £124.50 – 600 miles driving @ 7 miles per litre: £86

As an employee of Go-Via I can travel to Crewe for free. From there the privilege return to Newcastle for 2 people is £57.10. However it involves over 6 hours travel and at least 3 changes.

My Gatwick Express brothers at Battersea currently have ‘boxes’ on National Express East Coast - but will lose them when the franchise changes to Go-Via. They lost their boxes on Silverlink when Go-Via gave leisure staff travel to everyone on the London Midland franchise - but they’ll get them back when Go-Via takes over Gatwick Express.

Confused? You should be! The current system is a farce. Drivers who want to use their travel will find it easier and cheaper to get the train to Poland than Scotland!

I would encourage everyone to back the ASLEF campaign to improve driver travel concessions -and end the nonsense in 2008.


Battersea Branch


JULY 2008


Stephen Biggs, the secretary of the Gatwick Express Company Council, reports that the Class 460 UMU fleet used at the Gatwick branch are fitted with air conditioning but, he says, there are still issues with the adjustable Chapman seats and the exterior car door droplight windows.

Drivers have experienced back problems possibly due to the limited adjustments of the driving seat. There are also complaints about the droplight windows which are badly maintained so it can be difficult to open and close or vibrate and rattle when the rubber seals are removed to alleviate the resistance which causes excessive wind noise.

There is also a Class 73/2 loco based at Battersea Stewarts Land depot. It has no air cooling, partially adjustable seat and it is not routinely cleaned. The coupling adapters and technicians equipment are left on the cab floor, which creates a trip hazard.

All these matters continue to be pursued by the union.


MAY 2009



IT IS with great sadness that I have to advise of the sudden and unexpected death of Brother Bert Field, formerly of Battersea Branch

Born in 1933, Bert started work at 14 with the Southern Railway at Nine Elms Loco where he worked his way up the links with the likes of Derek Fullick and Ron Lifford. On reaching the top link he had his own engine, 35019 French Line CGT.

Bert married Pat during the 1955 strike. During their 54 years of marriage they had two sons of whom they were very proud. In 1960 Bert moved to Peckham Rye as aMotorman. He stayed until the depot closed four years later before moving to Victoria Central EMUT until his retirement in 1998.

Bert was a committed trade unionist and served as an LDC rep for over 30 years, right up to his retirement. He then joined the Campaign for Real Ale and was an unstinting worker at beer festivals and on committees.

He’ll be missed by all who knew him or worked with him and our thoughts are with Pat and their sons at this sad time.

Graham Hoy 


Battersea Branch 


MAY 2009


I AM writing to thank everybody for all their help and financial support over the last 21 months.

I’d been on the railway since I left school in July 1990. In that time I’ve worked on the platform, ticket office and as a crossing keeper at various locations in the Faversham area. I got a driver’s job based at London Victoria in March 2002.

In June 2007 I was taken ill at work. I was diagnosed witha balance disorder and have since taken medical retirement.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank union members for their help and ASLEF for financial assistance from the Hardship Fund. I’d also like to say thanks to all the branches who sent cheques from all around the country. It is very touching that so many branches contributed to a stranger.

But most of all I’d like to say a big thank you to all the lads at Victoria. They’ve been unbelievably generous with various financial collections for me. You don’t realise what fantastic and true friends you have until something like this happens. I look forward to seeing the Vic lads again soon for a drink.

Thanks to you all once again. I really am truly grateful.

Allan Bolter

Ex-driver London Victoria




Would it be possible to produce a half size ‘pocket’ version of the A.S.L.E.F. diary, and thereby offer a choice to members?

It would save me from having to give away my diary every year.

If this is viable, you could include a notification slip in next year’s diary for those members who would prefer the ‘pocket’ version, and the new size could be introduced in 2012.

Keith James

Driver – Victoria – Battersea Branch




I have to inform you of the death of Reggie Wilks at the age of 83. He passed away at home on 22 October. Reggie served in Germany in the 4th Company, 1st Regiment of the Footguards.

He started his footplate career at Stewarts Lane Battersea depot as a cleaner in April 1949 and was appointed to Fireman in March 1950.

I first met Reggie in 1969 when he was on the LDC and dealt with the move to Victoria in 1972. He was one of the founder members of the Victoria Train Crew Social Club.

Reggie had a great sense of humour and wit. He liked to give route-learners things to look for. One favourite was asking ‘Where along this line is a dove above a cat?’ The answer was that ‘Dove’ was the name of a Jaguar dealership in Croydon – so their name was above a symbol of Jaguar.

Reggie will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our deepest sympathy goes to Reggie’s widow, Margaret, at this sad time.

Ken Heydon – for Battersea branch




AT THE forthcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, Southern Driver Philippa Roles will be making history as the first Welsh female athlete to compete in four Commonwealth Games.

Philippa has been one of the UK’s top throwers in recent times, and is one of the most medalled athletes at National championships ever.

She is also a double Olympian, having competed at both the Athens and Beijing Games. She is looking to make it a hat trick of Olympic appearances in London 2012.

Margaret Lynes, who coaches Philippa, says, ‘I think she deserves all the help she can get, particularly holding down a full time driving job and trying to train as a full time athlete as well!’





I have to inform you that Arthur (‘Archie’) Dougherty died on 29 August. He was 82 years old. The cremation took place on 9 September.

After his stint in the Navy, Archie became a driver at Tunbridge Wells West until its closure in 1985. He then moved to Victoria Central before transferring to Victoria Eastern.

He never married, and our thoughts are with his niece at this sad time.

Ken Heydon,

Battersea branch



Philippa Roles - when she’s not in the gym, she’s training!

WHEN Philippa Roles was a young schoolgirl in Neath in South Wales her PE teacher suggested that, as she

was tall, she should have a go at throwing the discus. To her surprise, she found she could throw it remarkable distances – to the extent that only three months later, after entering the national championships, she was the Welsh Under-13 champion! It was a path that would eventually take this Southern train driver to the Olympic and Commonwealth games.

‘It was a relief finding I could throw the discus,’ she says with the Welsh lilt she will never lose. ‘It meant I could give up swimming which I was doing before. It was doing my head in. I was up at six ploughing up and down a pool for hours before school. And I wasn’t actually very good at it. I thought to myself, well at least throwing the discus is going to be easier than swimming!’

She has persisted and honed that skill to the extent that she’s represented her country at the Athens Olympics and at four consecutive Commonwealth Games – including the ones in India in October. She threw a very creditable 57.99 metres and came fourth.

‘I’m still feeling down about it if I’m honest,’ Philippa says. ‘I’d thrown over 60 metres the day before and I really thought I could have won. My personal best throw is 62.89 metres. I know that physically I was up for it, but there was some nagging doubts on the day. And if your confidence isn’t there, you’re not going to win.’

For many of us, to be the fourth best person at something in the entire Commonwealth would be a source of considerable pride. For Philippa it was worse than disappointing. ‘It was heartbreaking. It was terrible,’ she says. ‘It’s hard to pick yourself up again after you’ve had this target in your mind for years. It’s like the 2012 Olympics in London. If I am serious about it I’ll have to start serious training from January. To put in all that time and effort and not manage to produce your best on the day is ... well, you can’t imagine how deflated you can feel.’

And it certainly is effort. When most of us think of Olympic athletes, we see in our minds a toned , glamorous and fit person performing at a sporting event in a far-away city for a few minutes. We don’t consider what it takes to get there.

‘It does take a lot of discipline. If you’re going to succeed in any event you need to be quick, coordinated and strong. I was lucky that we’ve got a really good ASLEF rep here at Victoria in Graham Hoy and that the drivers in my depot and the company were really understanding and supportive. Between them they let me work permanent lates running up to the Commonwealth Games. That was a great help in organising my training.’

Which involved what ....?

Getting up and going straight on to work when I’d finished. Usually 
I’d start with rowing. It takes some of the pressure off my back, which I really messed up years ago through bad training schedules. Then I spend a couple of hours lifting weights. Some days it feels as if it’s taking forever. Sometimes I’ll do running and then an hour of throwing, usually about 80 times. I have a bag that will hold 15 discuses so it saves time going back and forth.

Then it’s shower, something to eat, and off to work. I do a shift, crawl home, sleep – and start again.

‘At times it has given me wonderful moments of pleasure and recognition, but looking back I’ve sacrificed a lot of my life for this sport. I haven’t had a holiday for 15 years because I use my leave to go to events. Yes, I know people think it’s a holiday to go away to international events, but it’s not. Basically you fly in, train, perform and leave. You don’t really see much of the country. Wherever you are, it always seems the same. The same event, the same people ....’

I suppose being a top athlete does mean you are in a rather exclusive club, and wonder how Philippa gets on with the other members ....

‘There is always a good sense of comradeship in the Welsh team, but not so much with the British one. There are a lot who are just there for themselves, and many are from different backgrounds with rich parents or sponsorships. They are often more concerned with their mobile phones or their new cars. They live on a different planet from those of us who have to work full time to pay the mortgage. They can’t believe I have to pay for my own accommodation to compete in about ten weekend events in the UK!

‘Mind you, the whole experience of international events is like living in a bubble where the outside world doesn’t seem to exist. I find it pretty weird. Dealing with all that is another skill. ‘

Suddenly, Philippa cracks up with laughter. ‘Do you know, talking to you I suddenly think I must be mad to carry on with it! But I’m 32 now and that is coming up to the peak for my event. And I do want to take part in the London Olympics. There is a lot of hype about it, but it is a great opportunity and very exciting for British athletes.’

It is not surprising that at times Philippa feels ground down by a sport to which she has given the last 20 years of her life. After starting in competitions largely in Wales as a member of the Swansea Harriers Athletic Club, Philippa decided in 2003 that if she was to improve, she’d need to move to London and specifically Crystal Palace. ‘At that time that was the only place with facilities that would let me improve, so I moved here.’

She did a variety of jobs, including fund raising and she applied to the police and prison services before being offered a job as a duty manager at Victoria, and then Clapham Junction. Then, four years ago, she moved over to driving and now works on suburban work for Southern.

‘It’s the best thing I ever did,’ she says. ‘I like driving trains – even more than I hate sitting on them as a passenger! It’s a job I really enjoy. That’s something throwing the discus did for me. Whenever I have a bad day, I just think, ‘You could be working in Tescos in Swansea!’

Philippa has worked incredibly hard and with remarkable dedication to get to the top reaches of her chosen sport, and deserves all the support and encouragement she can get.

Knowing train drivers, I say that I don’t suppose her workmates ever take the mickey?

‘Oh right!’ she says with a chuckle. ‘That’s one thing you can rely on ...!!’

Philippa then wanders off across the concourse to book on. I’m sure we all wish her every success in the London Olympics. If anyone deserves it, she does.





It is with deep regret i have to inform you of the death of a perfect gentleman, Brian Matthews. Brian died on 11th March at the age of 73. As he had decided to leave his body to medical science, a very well attended memorial service was held at St Mary the virgin church at Chessington on 9 may.

Brian was evacuated to Devon during the war years and after his National Service he started on the railway in the late fifties. He married his wife Patricia in 1959 and they had two children, Tracy and Paul.

brian was on the L.D.C. at Stewarts Lane M.T. and dealt with the move to Victoria Central M.T. he was also involved with the amalgamation with the E.M.U.T. depot at Victoria.

Brian witnessed the Purley disaster and attended all the subsequent inquiries. Following this his health deteriorated and he was unable to continue driving trains. He joined the team going around schools and held other seminars lecturing on railway safety until he retired. Our thoughts are with Patricia and all Brian’s family at this sad time.

Ken Heydon

Battersea Branch


JULY 2011



I HAVE to inform you of the death of a quiet man from Battersea, Tony Sweetland on 24 April, five days short of his 86th birthday. Tony never married, and cared for his parents for many years. He lived in Battersea all his working life, being a driver at Victoria Central EMUT

Tony was a motorcycle dispatch rider in the war, serving in the UK and Burma. Always a keen cyclist, he took his bike all along the Coast Routes. On retirement he moved to Kent to be near his friends who became his extended family.

Ken Heydon

Battersea Branch




IT IS with deep regret that I have to inform you of the death of Ken Setford who died on 30 May aged 82.

A service was held on 10 June at Thanet Crematorium in Margate which was very well attended. Ken was known as the ‘Gnome Man’ because he made them for the workforce. They found homes throughout the Southern Region.

Ken was in the RAF Police in Germany where he met his wife Eve. They had been married for 63 years and had four children. We offer our condolences to Eve and all the family.

Ken Heydon

Battersea Branch




The Stewarts Lane retired drivers were kind enough to invite Alan Taylor and myself from the RMS committee to one of their recent meetings. A fellow guest was ex-Shed Master Dick Hardy, a man who, by common consent, was ‘one of the few managers who understood railway men’. He continues to be held in high regard by those who had the pleasure of working at a depot where he was ‘the gaffer’, never asking anyone to do something he couldn’t do himself. Dick has recently released a book called ‘A Life on the Lines’ which charts his career from starting till his retirement and beyond. It’s well worth a read.

The Battersea Boys meet regularly at the Selhurst Railway Club.

Peter Smith

Reporter, Retired Members Section


APRIL 2013

Battersea marks 125 years

On the 12 February the Battersea branch celebrated its 125th birthday. Several former members of the branch were in attendance, along with the general Secretary, national organiser and other union officers.

Mick Whelan made a presentation to the branch to mark its reaching this milestone before awarding a medallion to retired member Roger (‘dodgy’) Owen in recognition of 50 years as a member of ASLEF. Roger served as a Local Staff Representative for many years.

After the formal business past and present branch members and our guests ensured the occasion was celebrated in the traditional ASLEF manner.

I would like to thank Malcolm Hough for his work researching the history of the branch, and for his effort in making the evening possible - and enjoyable.

Graham Hoy

Secretary, Battersea Branch


APRIL 2013

Up the Junction with the stars

Vic Raskin, a railwayman for fifty years, and a stalwart of our Battersea branch, tells 

Keith Richmond of his brushes with the glitz and glamour of the British film industry...

It’s not every day you go into work and, instead of taking commuters into the capital, or moving freight around the country, find yourself working with a big star on a big film. But that’s what happened to Vic Raskin when, in June 1967, he found himself driving a train into Clapham Junction – again and again – until, at last, director Peter Collinson shouted ‘cut!’ 

Up the Junction, starring Dennis Waterman, Suzy Kendall, Adrienne Posta, Maureen Lipman, Liz Fraser and Susan George, was one of the most popular films of the year when it was released in 1968. it was based on a book by Nell Dunn, published in 1963, which had already been turned by Ken Loach into an acclaimed Wednesday Play for the BBC, and was a gritty, realistic, ‘kitchen sink’ depiction of working-class life in the area of Battersea, south London, around Clapham Junction.

Vic, a member for many years of Battersea branch, recalls how he had just run three cars into clapham Junction when ‘a rather lovely boy, green velvet suit, pink shirt and yellow tie, asked me to come in again and went and chalk marked the platform where they wanted me to stop.’the panoply of a film crew at work, even for a couple of minutes’ screen time for Polly, ‘a posh middle-class blonde from Chelsea slumming it in Battersea,’ played by suzy Kendall, to look out of the carriage window and alight from the train, was a wonder for vic to behold.

‘there were dozens of people hanging around, including all these extras on £4 a day when i was getting £7 a week as a driver, and they waved to me from the side, and said “do it again” and again.

‘And then, as i got ready to take the train down the sidings while everyone had a break, Suzy Kendall came up and said, “can i have a ride in your cab?” so i took her down the sidings, changed ends, and got out my cheese and onion sandwiches – she had half my sandwiches and half my coffee – and then she asked me, “how do you drive these things?” And i had her driving up and down the sidings while we were on our break.’ Then it was back to work and take after take. ‘Eight times till we got it right,’ says vic, adding ruefully, ‘i saw the film, but they cut me out.’

That wasn’t his only brush with the magic of the silver screen. When Richard Attenborough made a film of the musical oh! What a Lovely War, vic was in it. ‘they got an old steam engine, the boiler had had it, parked it in Brighton, and i sat on it as a driver from those days, dancing up and down, with a smoke bomb inside the fire box, so smoke was pouring out the chimney.

‘Then, later, i was near the catering vans on the concourse, walking past Richard Attenborough’s Rolls Royce, when he stuck his head out the window and said, “driver, come in here,” so i got in with Richard Attenborough, and he opens this hamper, cold roast chicken and god knows what, champagne, although i wasn’t allowed to drink it, and he was telling me all about his model railway set. he had, he said, six attic rooms, at the top of his house, as somewhere to run his model railways. Another world...’

Vic’s a cockney; he was born at bow, in East London, within the sound of the bells of St Mary-Le- Bow, in 1931. he was, like a lot of children, evacuated from the capital to the country at the start of the second World War. he and the girl next door found themselves living, with a retired miner and his wife, in a cottage in mid-Wales with no gas, no electricity and no running water; the toilet was a bucket in the shed.

‘We lasted three months. We slept on an old brass bedstead in the attic under potato sacks sewn together for blankets. she was a shirley temple type, blonde, her ringlets got pulled at the local school, and I got beaten up for looking out for her. the headmaster didn’t like Londoners, we were utterly miserable, so a couple of days before christmas, when the old boy went to sleep, i said, “We’re going home”. We packed our suitcases – we didn’t have much – crept down the ladder from the attic, climbed out onto the sloping roof, shut the window, slid down the roof and walked to the station where we got a train to cardiff, with no money, and no ticket.

‘There, a woman with four kids talking cockney went through the barrier, we followed, and she found she’d got two extra kids. “What are you doing?” she asked as we got on the Paddington train. “running away.” And she said “that’s why i’ve come down to get my kids, they don’t like it.” We didn’t get into London until 4 a.m. Sunday morning and my mother and father got a big surprise when i clambered into the Anderson shelter later that day.’

he was back in London for the worst of the blitz by German bombers as the Luftwaffe tried to destroy the docks. ‘the germans always came over Sunday lunchtime. one day, the sirens went off, father grabbed the Sunday paper, half a bottle of whisky, his pipe and baccy, and shot off to the Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden. mother poured the soup back off the plates into the pot and got to the door of the basement kitchen. i heard this bomb coming, because they whistled, and said i would wait here while it went by, but it went through our roof – 800lb of high explosive – and into the basement behind me and blew up. the house lifted up and i could see all around. then it started to come down, i got under the stone sink and, as luck would have it, the rafters hit the boiler and stone sink and stayed off me. Everything went blank but, 15 hours later, they dug me out. the house had gone, and so had each house on either side. the civil defence guy who pulled me out said, “you are one lucky 10 year old.” but all my dad said was, “Where’s the bloody soup?”’

Vic hadn’t managed much schooling – ‘the Daily Mirror taught me to read and write’ – and when his mother said it was time he got a job he joined the railway, at Stewarts Lane, as a cleaner. ‘i was 5ft so they put me down the pit underneath the engines and i came out covered in oil. but once steam got into my blood I wanted to drive the bloody things! I was a cleaner, then pass fireman, and in 1957 made driver. I ended up doing 49 years and five months on the railways. With diesel everything is closed in; with steam, you’ve got steam in one ear, fire burning your overalls, and it’s an achievement to get from one end of the line to the other. An engine wouldn’t do well if the driver and fireman didn’t do well. it was a living thing.’ he was a union man all his life, too. ‘Tom Stuckey at Stewarts Lane had the biggest nose you’ve ever seen, like Pinocchio, and as i was booking on, he said. “’ere you, you ain’t joined the ASLEF, here’s a form, fill it in”. he became a rep and is still, living in retirement by the sea in Devon, as proud of what he achieved for his colleagues as he is of being a driver in the age of steam.

‘it’s been good life,’he smiles. ‘And I was never stuck up the junction...’


MAY 2015

Medical checks

The untimely death of Bob Crow should ring alarm bells for members of all ages. Make sure you have regular medical checks, not just the cursory exams companies give. I recently had a prostate cancer check (clear) and a blood cholesterol check (sky high). Tablets have brought this down but how many of you are aware of your true state of health? Make an appointment with your GP before it’s too late.

Jeff Veale



JUNE 2015



Sadly, I have to report the death of a great character, Clifford Cyril Claridge, on 31 March. He was 74. Cliff started at Willesden Stonebridge Park, then went to Wimbledon and Victoria. He always had a joke or story to tell, and was good at cooking Sunday breakfast for the drivers on duty. Cliff had to come off the front with hearing loss and went into the offices, and retired in 2003. Our thoughts are with his wife Linda and family at this sad time.

Ken Heydon



JUNE 2015



Retired driver Roy Cooper died on 12 December aged 78. He was known on the railway as Ron because, when he started at Gillingham, there was already a Roy Cooper, so he opted for Ron. He transferred to Feltham in 1953 and did his national service in the Royal Sussex Regiment from 1954 to 1956. While in the army he met Pat and they married in 1958. When Feltham closed he went to Stewarts Lane, Battersea, and then Victoria. Ron was a staff rep in 1981-82 when Gatwick Express was starting up. He took early retirement in 2002 under ill health.

Ken Heydon



JUNE 2015

A bloody expensive diary

I cannot tell you exactly how many times I’ve heard the expression, ‘that’s a bloody expensive diary’ when the union dues rise along with our pay. What I can tell you is that the cost pales into insignificance when ASLEF’s dedicated union reps help you out of a corner that is not entirely of your own making. With that in mind, I would like to thank my local LDC (Battersea) and Southern company council for the support they have shown me over the last 14 months. In particular, Graham Hoy, LDC, and Kevin Eade and Dave Maclennan, company council, must have got fed up with me emailing, ringing and constantly asking for advice, while preparing my case, but they never wavered in their dedication in helping me to a just conclusion. So, brothers and sisters, that little diary is well worth its cost when the subs that purchase it help you keep your job!

Steve Foy

Battersea branch





James Longley passed away peacefully on 1 October at the age of 86. Jim served on the railway for more than 40 years, starting on steam engines. His final working years were spent at Caterham, and he was a lifelong member of ASLEF. He was an entertainer, and family man, who loved to sing and see people laugh. He will be greatly missed by Eve, his family and friends. R.I.P. Jim.

Ken Heydon




Beer and badges

Battersea branch would like to thank GS Mick Whelan, EC1 Marz Colombini, DO1 Graham Morris and Southern company council for taking time out from their busy schedules dealing with the various parts of the Southern dispute to attend our beer and badges event. Mick, now a regular at our annual get together, presented long service badges to Nick Warner, Trevor Hale and Dave Lane (5 years); Rob Crouchley and Paul Shovlin (10); Micky Harbour, Jay Brook, Gary Warburton and Dave Gibbs (15); Steve Biggs (25); and Alex Holness (45). Thanks to all who attended for assisting with demolishing the buffet and for contributing to yet another successful presentation evening recognising the loyalty and support of our members. Special mention to Southern driver Ray Coates who was due to receive a 35 year badge but, unfortunately, missed the presentation due to illness.

Pas Luongo

Battersea branch secretary



867 years on the line

Battersea branch held its annual beer & badges night on Tuesday 6 November attended by GS Mick Whelan, EC1 Marz Colombini, DO1 Graham Morris and Southern company council; 28 presentations were made totalling 867 years’ service including Phillip Brand (40 years) and Steve Harding (45) plus 10 overdue medallions for 50+ years to Derrick Fendick, John Howcroft, Sid Rumbold, Peter Rood, Colin Deslandes, Colin Taylor, Graham Richards, Vic Raskin and Doug Crosby (who has 73 years membership of ASLEF!) and retirement certificates to Trevor Finch, Phillip Brand, Brad Mist and Graham Hoy.

Pas Luongo

Branch Secretary



Hoy! Where Eagles dare

Graham Hoy has retired after 49 years’ service. Hoysie started his railway career at 15 in April 1969 and passed out as driver in 1980, He spent his driving career at Victoria Central Battersea branch, went on to become LSR secretary for 20 years, h&s rep for 10, branch secretary from 1999 to 2013 and branch chair from 2014 to 2017. Graham will be truly missed with his fountain of knowledge and experience in collective bargaining procedures dating back to the early ’80s along with existing local agreements, rostering, diagramming scrutiny and representing drivers at disciplinary meetings and mediation, the list goes on. There are many drivers who owe their careers to Graham. 

Thank you, Hoysie, and have a long and happy retirement.

Pas Luongo

Branch Secretary


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