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Saxilby and District History Group

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John Nicholson has just given us a copy of the memories of George Clover, who spent 44 years working for the railway, mainly in the Saxilby area.

The railway came to the village in 1849, and was a major employer in the area for over 100 years.

George writes –

 'After leaving the RAF in 1947, I went to Lincoln Signals School. After a short period at Havenhouse, Tumby Woodside and Tattersall, I went onto Kesteven Sidings, as that was a job with a house. (Kesteven Sidings was at the level crossing on Skellingthorpe Road, and served the chemical works of Lindsey and Kesteven Fertilisers). The rent was 11s 9d (59p) until the house was modernised in 1957, when the rent went to 30s (£1.50).

The siding held 14 wagons, and had a centrally placed turntable to turn the wagons into the factory for unloading. This was the scene of much hard labour, as many of the wagons still had grease axle boxes, which with standing cooled and set. They had to be pushed by hand, barred into the factory, and unloaded by hand.

My rostered hours there were 6.30am till 2.30pm or 2.00pm till 10.00pm. The half hour overlap was to attend to the siding, mainly folding and loading wagon sheets, a right mucky job!

It was also my job to be night attendant to the crossing after the box closed.

As resident crossing keeper/signalman at Kesteven Sidings, I was not fondly remembered by the travelling public, as I was probably less than enthusiastic when woken at any time during the night to dress, climb the signal box steps, put the signals to danger, climb down and open the gates, and then reverse the procedure, all for 30s a week!

The only means of communication was a single needle telegraph. My regular mate, Cecil (Sam) Hardy wasn't very good at it, and if he got a call and I was at home, he shouted for my assistance to take the message. The telegraph stayed until around 1956, when it was replaced by a control phone following a derailment.

1960 saw mains electricity to the box and house, so out went the tilly lamps and we could have a telly. No more flat radio battery just when we wanted to listen to the 'Archers'.

1967 saw me risen to the job of rest day relief signalman, home station Saxilby. The boxes we covered were Lea Station, Stow Park, Sykes Junction, Saxilby and Kesteven Sidings.

A little anecdote to illustrate how railway minded the older men were, involves ganger old George Fowler. I was at Kesteven Siding one day and George and his gang were working by the corner of the box. With the window open, I was talking to them when a low flying American B52 bomber came from the direction of Waddington. George said “That's a big 'un”! I said “Yes, they are about 180 foot wingspan”. “Why”, said George, “that's 3 whole rail lengths”!

The line through Saxilby was very busy in my early years, with an average of about 40 trains in an 8 hour shift.

After 44 years service, I was made redundant in 1985.'