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King's Cross Second Man (Hardback)

A Sixties Diesel Career

Military > Memoirs P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century Transport > London Transport Transport > Trains & Railways World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Norman Hill
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 174
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: 9781473878235
Published: 11th February 2019


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Late in 1964 the author made a career change from the Midland Region railway clerical grades, to the Eastern Region Motive Power Department at King's Cross, initially as a locomotive cleaner. This was the realisation of an ambition held for some ten years and by the end of December 1964, he became eligible for second man duties. On 28 December 1964, he was second man on a return trip to Peterborough, and determined to keep a record of the run; locomotive employed, the driver he accompanied, the rostered diagram and the actual circumstances of the diagram. Norman duly recorded this shift, along with all shifts worked during his employment as second man.

Norman realised that such a record would be of great interest to both railway enthusiasts and employees, past and present. Especially those who worked on the southern section of the East Coast Main Line or those with a special interest in the railways of the 1960s; a formative period of railway modernisation when 150 years of steam-powered railway locomotion gave way to more modern means of motive power. This book will use Norman's records of 1964-68 as a basis for an account in which he will show the slow and difficult transition of Britain's railway from its traditional steam-powered world into the modern world of diesel and electric traction.

Norman's work as second man took him to places and railway installations in North London that no longer exist, and which have taken their place in railway history, and sometimes even within the broader fabric of the history of London, and of England itself. Through the medium of Norman's records of 1960's railway working, he looks back and rediscovers these forgotten places and so contrasts nineteenth-century railways and industrial history with operating practices on todays modern British railways.

This is an entertaining read.

West Somerset Railway Association

As featured in

RMT News

"Interspersed with numerous photos of the era and stories of the characters amongst his colleagues made for an enjoyable read."

Great Eastern Railway Society

An interesting read for the generalist and an insight in to the working practices as the steam era slowly morphed in to a new modernised system.

Stephenson Locomotive Society

King`s Cross Second Man up for grabs as prize in crossword comp- winner to be announced in RAIL 880.

RAIL 8th- 21st May 2019 (878)

As featured by

British Railway Modelling, July 2019

As featuerd by

Rail Express, June 2019

Winner announced for RAIL 878 comp.

Rail, Issue 880

As featured by

Best of British, June 2019

Anyone interested in the early diesel period of Britain’s railways, especially in the King’s Cross/Eastern Region areas will likely find this book of interest.

An enjoyable and interesting read for a region and area I personally don’t know a great deal about as it falls outside of my personal interests generally. Worth a look.

Kelly Harding, Diesel & Electric Modellers United, June 2019

As featured in crossword competition

RAIL, 24th April 2019

An informative and fascinating first hand account of a “second man”‘s experiences and duties on Kings Cross diesel engine passenger runs. Michael Portillo would be thrilled to read this, as was I!

Books Monthly

This is quite a detailed book... It will appeal to those who work or worked on the railways.

Branch Line Britain

About Norman Hill

Norman Hill was born in Potters Bar, Herefordshire, in 1939. He has had a lifelong interest and railways and since leaving school in 1956, he spent some nine years in BR booking offices on both Eastern and Midlands regions. In 1963, he moved to the Midland region Audit HQ in Melton House, Watford, and in 1964 he went to King's Cross as a 'second man' on diesel locomotives. Norman returned to full-time education in 1973 and completed a BA (hons) degree in 1978. He finally returned to the GNER and retired from King's Cross Travel Centre in 1999. He has published one previous book entitled Teesside Railways A View from the Past.

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