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 Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches



Finally back on the locos

By Ron Terrill


I started as an Engine Cleaner at Newhaven Loco on the 13th September 1954, and passed for firing duties on 25th July 1955. Ron transferred to Brighton Loco, to get his promotion to Fireman on the 15th December 1958 and moving back to Newhaven on the 8th February 1960. Whilst back at Newhaven I passed for driving, on the 12th July 1962. With the closure of Newhaven Loco shed on the 8th September 1963, I moved back to Brighton Loco, which later became a Mixed Traction depot, this time as a ‘Passed Fireman’. In 1969 I transferred to Brighton E.M.U.T., and with the amalgamation of the Brighton E.M.U.T. & Mixed Traction in 1988, I found myself back on diesel locomotives.


  Ron Terrill

 I can’t remember if I mentioned a couple of memories of working at Kingston Wharf (Shoreham) but my first time at Kingston Wharf I was on a B4class when I had a Guage Glass blow on the climb up to the weigh-bridge with 2wagons of coal! 

I remember many times working on 31556 P class which was the regular engine for the job. I often used to wonder why they didn't use an AIXwith a slightly smaller wheelbase because of the sharp curves around the wharf . 

At Brighton as a 'Passed Fireman,' I went diesels training at Stewarts Lane to learn 350hp diesels shunting, 204hp drewry diesels shunting locos, and D.E.M.U.s (Oxted, Hampshires and Hastings), they were all basically the same. I also learnt Crompton Parkingsons also at Stewarts Lane and later on electro-diesels which saw all my diesel training completed. I eventually got my made up to driver on the 2nd May 1966 at Brighton Mixed Traction.


On  the 6th January 1969, I transferred to Brighton E.M.U.T. where I had to learn arrange of E.M.U. stock including the early various main line & suburban units (Subs (Marys), Nelson & Puls & Pans) at Wimbledon and at Selhurst I learnt the then, modern E.P. units including various main line & suburban units (1951, 1957 & 1963 stock (E.P.B. units, C/BEPs, C/BIGs, BIGs, Veps, etc ).

In my early days on the E.M.U.’s in the late 60s, I remember working on the Redhill-Reigate shuttle with a two car Metropolitan - Vicars & Nutcracker unit, and on leaving Reigate Bay platform I had moved about 5 feet when the road spread and I became derailed, Fortunately I didn’t foul the main line.
On another occasion I worked a train to Victoria where we detached the rear 4 cars and worked all stations to Coulsdon North  on returning to Victoria I reached Purley Oaks where a train (8 car Mary) had come to grief. I contacted the signalman and he asked me to investigate why he was there so long. I secured my train and walked forward to the train (about 50feet ahead) as I walked along checking the shoe fuses as I went on the near side all OK. I met the driver who said it was impossible for an 8Sub to get gapped!  I checked the fuses on the other side and they all had blown! I told the driver to paddle up the front 4car while I detached the power jumper between units. After changing the fuses in the front unit I reconnected the power jumpers removed all paddles and power was restored with minimal delay.


I was thinking about all the specials we used to run under British Rail. We used any stock available in the summer time to run Seaside Specials from London Stations to Brighton Summer weekends! I worked quite a number of these trains. They must have been well advertised in London because they were always packed solid! If we departed from London Bridge we would call all stations to Norwood then run fast to Brighton. The same applied if we went from Victoria. And some went via Crystal Palace all stations to Norwood/Selhurst then fast to Brighton. The return journeys also went fast to Norwood or Selhurst then all to London . Thus missing East Croydon. I remember one of these trains made up off 6x2 Bills and another made up off 4x2 Lavs and 1 Mary (4 car). I am sure there toilet facilities were there buckets and spades (they enjoyed there Seaside day out) and I know there ticket for there trip was loose change. Still it got packed trains running to the Seaside. Obviously at that time we had more spare men available to cover the extra workings. The private company’s wouldn't do that today.


When I was driving E.M.U.'s I would often notice sheep (ewes) stuck on their backs in fields alongside of the track, I would make a mental note of where they were and on the return journey I would stop my train and run across the field to put them back on their feet. It didn't take long and I soon made up the time! One time on a Seaford shuttle, I left Lewes and between Lewes and Southerham, I saw a cow on the line in between the Juice rail, I stopped in time and told the signalman at Lewes of the incident and proceeded to lead the cow off the track, it wasn't easy because I had to walk back about 30 feet towards Lewes to the end of the juice rail then crossover the track in the other direction and walk back to where I found her, then over to the fence where she got over, I found a piece of rotten rope and tied her to the fence - then told the Lewes East signalman to call the farmer to collect the cow. I carried on to Seaford , on my return journey as I approached Southerham Junction, I could see smoke ahead the poor cow had walked back to the rail an electrocuted herself and blew the substation causing a long delay, all because nobody did anything about her. Another occasion in same area I run into Lewes and as I passed the box in the dark I hit some ducks I carried on to Brighton where I had one more trip to Seaford & back. When I left Lewes to go to Seaford I looked out on the track where I had hit the ducks and saw a couple of bodies. I went to Seaford and back to Brighton where I booked off duty. I drove back to Lewes and took a sack with me to pick up the bodies and to my astonishment one was still alive (2 dead). I took them home and mended the broken wings with splints and he recovered and lived with us for Four months until a friend of ours who has land, took him to live with her Mallards at Scaynes Hill.


An embarrassing story of my idiotic antics. I had noticed that BR was renewing cable troughing at Durham Corner and I applied for some of the wood to make a shed! The wood was one inch thick by one foot wide and varied in lengths up to twenty feet, at the time I had a Vauxhall Viva Saloon with a roof rack. Anyway I took a saw with me and loaded up with. The smaller lengths and took them home on the second trip I loaded up several 20 feet lengths and tied a rope to the front and rear bumper to keep the wood steady. And drove home very carefully, Then I got cocky and went for a third load (all 20 foot lengths) and on the way home some silly lady drove out of a side road in front of me causing me to brake sharply and the roof rack collapsed and the roof came down trapping me in the car . Some people came to my rescue and removed the wood and a man got in the car back seat and pushed the roof back up with his feet. Thus releasing me from my seat, I put half of the wood back on and went home & then went back for the rest. No Problem

We use to work Departmental trains, such as the weed-killer trains which we used to run back in the steam days and later on with diesels, electric Snow & Ice units which in later years double up as Sandite trains.  Being a ‘Night Owl’, I used to work the Snow & Ice and Sandite trains quite a lot; it tested my route knowledge, because it took us over some western routes as well as London suburban lines. Horsham, Sutton, Epsom, back via Hackbridge, to Streatham, then to London Bridge via Knights Hill and Bermondsey, London to Tulse Hill via Crystal Palace and back to London Bridge then down to Horsham via Sutton up to Three Bridges and back on home soil. I liked the challenge!!

With the amalgamation of the two depots I found myself having to re-learn diesels which included classes 37s, 47s & 56s and learn the new 319s units and Motor Luggage Vans.

Another memory I was working back from Bedford about 1994 and approaching St Albans on the up local when I saw a man waiving a red flag I place the brake handle straight to emergency,  I was still doing 90 mph. Apparently they were cutting trees down from beside the track and one of the trees had fallen on to the overhead wire. As my speed was reducing, I could see the tree ahead so I pressed the pan/down button and by the time we hit it I managed to go under the tree and run into the station at St Albans where the train was terminated. I went over to the fast line and went home pass.

 Ron Terrill and his trainman Jeff Edisbury at Eastbourne with the 'Sussex Belle' on the  11th September 1993

I was asked to do involving a class 37 diesel and I had to go to Selhurst and pick up a special coach and take down to Folders Lane (between Keymer Jcn & Spatham). On arriving at Selhurst I walked around the coach preparing it for the journey, and when I looked through the windows I saw a lot of bodies laying around covered in blood and bandages (it was a First Aid training coach). I worked to Folders Lane where I was met by a film crew and engineers who proceeded to derail my engine and coach to simulate a train crash. I was then told it was staged to coordinate emergency services in case a crash happened in their area! I knew nothing about this until I arrived on site. When all the action started I was told to go back to the depot and wait for orders! They never called me back and even so to this day I have never been told what happened to the ( film) I assume it is being used as a training exercise film for medical recruits. I don't know who had to recover the engine and coach?

Does anybody have a copy of this film? 



Ron Terrill


We had a severe weather forecast, Chucks asked me to take a 73 to Stewarts Lane and bring back as many engines as possible, because of the very bad weather that we were expecting! On arriving at Stewarts Lane the engines were all prepared and running, 6 in all. We were asked to leave 2 at Redhill, then 2 at Three Bridges, then the 3 for Brighton. On arrival at Redhill, I took the front 2 into the Loco sidings, they were a class 47 & 56, then went back to the station, to the leading engine, class 33, and continued to Three Bridges were we left a class 33 and 37. We then went back to the remaining engines 73, 37,73, and took them to Brighton were we left them at L.W.S., and walked back to the depot. On arriving back at the depot, I was told that Redhill men didnt know class 56's, so I went back to L.W.S..to take one of the 73s up to Redhill to exchange with the 56 and bring back to Brighton.

I was Booking on one morning at 03:30 a.m. and going pass by Taxi to Clayton Tunnel North where I relieved a crew on a ballast train Headed by 2 class 73s. I eventually left the site on the wrong road to Preston Park then crossed right road to Hove where I could changeover from Diesel to Electric working to continue on route to Chichester Yard. All went well until approaching Drayton, where the Fire Alarm sounded and the leading engine failed! And we come to a stand. After isolating Fire Alarm system on leading engine I went to the leading cab of the rear engine and started the diesel engine and with my second man in the cab of the lead engine (with the emergency brake)we continued on to Chichester Yard with me driving from the rear engine. We left the dead engine on the buffers in the sidings and run around the train where we continued on to Three Bridges Yard to stable the train! After passing through Hove and climbing the bank through Cliftonville Tunnel we were getting slower and slower so I started the diesel engine and when the Electric overloaded I switched to diesel and it kept us moving until we got over the hump to Withdean where I could return to electric working. All went smoothly for the rest of the journey to Three Bridges considering the train loading was for 2 engines!



Ron Terrill Collection

Ron Terrill in the cab of a class 47, waiting departure at Brighton with the 'Sussex-Scot' train.


Just after they fitted door locking on coaching stock, one Saturday whilst working the Brighton to Manchester train as far as Reading (via Redhill & Guildford). I run around the train at Redhill, I had the brake test and waited for the right away from the guard. When he waved the flag I returned to the cab and opened the controller on passing the three bridges between Redhill & Reigate. I looked back on the strait section, and saw a door swinging open ! I managed to stop in the platform at Reigate. I went back to the smashed door, I noticed behind me the platform fence was in poor condition so I pulled a couple of slats out and with a piece of redundant telephone wire and managed to secure the door satisfactory. I then told the Signalman at Reigate to have the fitters waiting at Reading we made up the time lost and run in to Reading 2 minutes early.

Another memory when CIGs first came to Brighton I worked an 8 car to Victoria but failed at Hassocks with loss of control. I checked all M.C.B.s and found all were correct on the first unit but still no control power, so I checked the rear unit which was all OK so I had a word the Guard and suggested that he should ride in the leading cab to Haywards Heath whilst I drove the train from the front cab of the rear unit calling at the three remaining stations to Haywards Heath where the train was taken out of service the front  4 car was berthed in the loop and the rear 4 car I shunted round to number 2 platform where I picked up the passengers and continued on to Redhill where (control)?  had arranged a unit to attach to my rear so I carried on all stations to Victoria and picked up my normal workings.

We had a M.L.V. turn on nights, I had been to London Bridge via Redhill P.O. dock & back to Redhill. I was carrying urgent stuff for Tonbridge, the TCS asked me if I knew the road to Tonbridge and I agreed to take the train to Tonbridge on Battery conditions and return to Redhill, where I continued my journey on to Chichester via Horsham and back to Brighton. A good nights work.

When we were learning 319s and road learning to Bedford, at first we only had 317s from Farringdon to Cricklewood and back to Moorgate, hence we signed routes in Cricklewood Depot and St Pancras main line Station. Some of the routes came back from memories of steam days, when we use to work over some strange routes to places like Gospel Oak, Neasdon, Willsden & Brent. But in those days we had a pilot-man, most of the time . Some times we would we would be booked relief at Longhedge Jcn. And no one would turn up so we would continue on to Kew Jcn then on to Acton South to Neasdon, then Dollis Hill then Cricklewood. After about 2 weeks we got our first 319 but the only difference was they had no shoes 

I don't know whether I should mention fiddles, most worked perfectly but I did have a couple that went wrong. Once I spent the night at Guildford doing a fiddle with a Redhill man (but was successfully covered).  

Another one that went wrong, I should have got relief at West Worthing and ended up sleeping in the lobby at Portsmouth Harbour. Happy Days! 



We honoured our mishaps then, I often used my car to drive to Ore and leave it there, when we had to cover the last train Vic to Ore and then home pass on the first train in the morning. It often helped the driver on the Ore to Lewes train to get an early night, and for me I would get home at 3-45 am by car.


There was a well known incident that involved Brighton Driver Dave Knights being hi-jacked on the up quarry when was working an M.L.V. from Brighton to London Bridge.

My job for the week was on the M.L.V. and Dave Knight, asked me to change Rest Days on the Wednesday he worked my turn and when he got to the signal on the entrance to Quarry Tunnel he stopped on the red and was held up by a man with a shotgun ! The man boarded the M.L.V. and found it only had Polish newspapers on board so he made a run for it. Dave was surprised but not hurt

( I suppose the moral of the story is don't change Rest days.)


Right Ron Terrill at Southampton 1992




Click on the icon above for

the history of the Brighton Branch of ASLEF

Click on the icon above for

the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches

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