Recordings from Toton Railwaymen


A community project 2016 - 2018

supported by Heritage Lottery Fund

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The Toton Millenium 2002 Audio Clips

Used with the kind permission of the late Bill Roy's son

Early in our project planning, Phil Burton remembered a project he had seen about Toton done in 2002. A copy was borrowed from Toton Library consisting of

  1. 7 cassette audiotapes of intervews Bill conducted with 8 participants, mostly Toton based drivers but including one relative of driver
  2. booklet based on the interviews
  3. DVD about Toton and the area around

Listening to the tapes revealed some fascinating insights into what it was like to work at Toton. They covered working practices, social opportunities, sporting clubs and stories from out on the iron road. We got the impression they had been undervalued. Certainly to us they were a 'goldmine' as many steam era drivers living then have since passed away or are very elderly.

Clips from the extensive footage were transferred to digital tracks and some are available for listening below. The photos of the participants were scanned from the booklet and, unfortunately are not high quality.


Alan Stewart: description of clip content Tape length Click below
How Alan joined up at Toton after working in a factory for 18 months he heard of a vacancy from his uncle who worked there, as did another uncle and his grandfather. As Alan said, it was a 'job for life' 1 min
Clothing issue with choice of rain-mac or overcoat 1 min
Approx 500 men worked at the steam loco depot at Toton in Alan's day but getting to work wasn't always easy .. no roads or transport! 2.5 mins
On a regular shift, Alan and his mate would run down to pick up loaded trains from Stanton Gate Sidings, and bring the train up to Toton Central where other crews would take them on to London Brent. It was usually one of those coal-greedy Beyer-Garratts! 2.5 mins
Alan recalls how the Toton Quiz Team were pipped at the semi-final because of questions involving automatic signals 1.5 mins
Alan talks about how he and his family travelled abroad with the help of his railway passes 1.5 mins

I particularly enjoyed listening to Alan. He obviously enjoyed recounting his experiences working at Toton and had much to tell not only about work but also the sporting and social opportunities offered by this large working community. He also gives a nice overall summary of what Toton was really there for in the first place!

Alan Stewart, driver

He started as a cleaner, a really mucky job in steam days, and gradually progressed through fireman to driver. With dieselisation in 1965, he retrained for mainline diesel work eventually transferring to Nottingham to work express passengers trains to London etc.




Philip Warwick, driver

Philip moved down from Carlisle as a young man in 1939 and worked at Toton for 43 years. He tells some good stories about the moving of freight in WW2.

Philip Warwick: description of clip content Tape length Click below
Phil started off in lodgings in Long Eaton where he paid a rent of 25 s a week. 1 min
Phil recalls a mate's idea of the footplate as a boxing ring: him against the steam pressure gauge, because the engine needed him to keep that steam pressue up 1 min
Phil remembers a very long trip driving from Trent Junction to Hereford. 2 mins

The last clip wasa fascinating account of how a driver could get involved in a much longer shift than expected finishing up much further from home than expected. Very oddly, the service described here ran from my old town of Bury St Edmunds to Shrewsbury, but Phil went further finishing in Hereford!



George Sallis, driver

George went through the ranks at Toton and worked as a fireman during those difficult war years. That included firing on garratts. He went on to Nottingham as an inspector

George Sallis: description of clip content Tape length Click below
One of George's early jobs was to go and wake up men on shift in the early hours. Here's how they had to do it in those days 1/2 min
George remembers watching the skilled work of his driver when firing Garratts on a long goods train to London over varying gradients 1 min
Life in the war years was hard for railwaymen; long hours and some hazardous working through red alert air raid warnings. An excellent piece of recording gives a great flavour of the times. 2 mins



John Langford

John came to Toton in 1971 as Assistant Area Manager Train Crew responsible for drivers, second men, guards etc.

John Langford: description of clip content Tape length Click below
John explains his management responsibilities when he joined Toton in 1971 working with drivers and guards on the ground so to speak 2min
Changes at Toton with the Merry-Go-Round trains and a much smaller yard at Toton: John recalls those days 2 mins
The footbridge over the River Erewash was built by the railway for Long Eaton men to get to Toton: it saved a long trip via Sandiacre! 1 min



Toton Sidings Remembered 2017 Audio Clips

Recording taken during the project at Open days and elsewhere including The Navigation Inn, Breaston!

Ron Smedley Ron retells a memory of a WW2 bomb dropped near Toton
Chris McGrath Chris recalls firing on the Garratts .. "not a problem!"
Chris McGrath Chris recalls his first sighting of a Franco-Crosti engine
Chris has this rota board in his workshop to remind him of the happy days he spent working from the Toton depot. Peter Brookes Peter talks about "not-labs" ie wagons that arrived without any destination labels