Eastleigh Works Web Site 

Home Page (back to the websites main page)

Magic Memories Page

This page is for your memories, a page which I have wanted to do for a long time.  You may not feel you have any stories which anyone will be interested in, but please believe me, people will want to read them.  So if you have anything you remember which you want to share, please contact us

Contributors (click on the name to jump to their memory)


Roy Burford Poems Ken Hunt Mick Thurston Murray (Jim) Allam Tom Thorne Colin Cheater Carol Johnson Ernie Groves Steve Westwood
Graham Miller                  

Colin Cheater here.  I discovered your website about 18 months ago but just got round to writing something.  I joined the works in September 1981 and was placed in the lift and underframe shop (where Joe, my dad, was on Inspection).  I remember Jock the labourer/charge hand and Bob Nordon a retired teacher and also remember Bob Lane.  Brian Nias and Peter Johnson were the chief foremen of that shop.  Later on I joined the hallowed ranks of the Trimmers under Jim Stagg and Len Clare.  Ron McGill was charge hand of the Trimmers, Peter Lynam was also a Trimming chargehand as was John McGill in charge of the Girls’ Lining Room.  I recall some boozy Christmas parties there!  Later on I joined the Transport gang under Brian Hampton and rose to the dizzy heights of works Chauffeur in 1988.  I spent many happy hours slumped in No 1 Gate chatting to the gatemen and waiting for a phone call from Peggy the Manager’s (Malcolm Stainthorpe) secretary.  The late Johnny Orchard was van/lorry driver at this time and a good pal.  I remember a lot of faces on the gallery but not always names.  I find that “mate” usually suffices.  All good things come to an end and in 1996 I ended up in the Electrical Production shop working with the Northern Star (Eddie Baldwin) and other characters.  I still see Roy Chamberlain who was also a “Mate” in the shop and Steve Allenby.  I left Eastleigh in 2005 ad was one of the first 100 to be laid off after 23.5 years service.  I now work in NHS in psychiatric care in Winchester and often reflect that the things I’m being paid to do now such as sitting down, chatting to colleagues, drinking coffee, I would never have got away with at Eastleigh Works – rather ironic eh?

(as dictated by Colin Roy Cheater, March 25, 2012)

 Please see the poems which are referred to in this, thanks  Poems

My father Ernie Groves worked in the carriage works after moving to Eastleigh from Nine Elms, Brighton with my grandparents. He started work in approx 1932 in the carriage works, then moved to the locoworks in the tool room until he retired in 1981. He became the first aid trainer for the apprentices in the 1960's until his retirement, taking them into many competitions. We have pictures of the first aid teams if they are of any use for the website.

We lived in Campbell road! And my grandfather was the man referred to in the poem from Anon who kept pigs in the fields at the end off Campbell road.

I came into the railways in Dec 1969 working in the lift shop and motor gang, then left to go to Pirelli in 1973. I returned back to the railway in 2010 working for Arlington under the ownership of Barry Stephens an ex railway apprentice.

Adrian Groves

Steve Westwood June 2012

Those memories of the old electricians shop when fresh from the training school in 61. No more the green boiler suit but a grown up blue one !

 My first tutor the one Clyde Robey who had first to teach me the loco walk,(any slower and we be progressing steadily backwards).Then all those stops on the way to the erecting shop to discuss the darts of the week end, in the brass shop,machine shop and tool room. And on arrival "on the job" to rip old code lamps and speedos etc off of a MN class in for conversion. This was part of Alan Crootes gang. And who remembers the troughs for washing hands which were the ducking destiny for some unfortunate each Friday. (banned on elf an safety eventually). And who started the ball race trick, brought up to speed with an air line then dropped to wizz up towards the motor gang at Des Hutches area, having passed Wilf Barrets armature gang and Tom Burnetts/Ted Nobles area where the turbo-alternators and points machines were given a new lease of life. And never to be forgotten the other apprentices,some of those being, Ray Porter, Harry Frith, Brian Adlem, Malcom Fletcher, Brian Short, Chris Sanger and of course Jonny White, the last two sadly taken in their prime. And all those other names that spring to mind, Terry Riley, Dave Hill, George Morgan, Len Amey, Ray Bennett, Roy Burford, Roy Rogers, Toney Turner, Keith Saberton and Charlie Spicer who kicked the dummy (boiler suited and shoed and stuffed with cotton waste) left just showing under the bench as if asleep on "nights" . And what sport to see six or seven men clock off early (and loose a quarter) after you'd reversed your clock card and punched it a minute too soon. And then the sub station with Fred Compton , Bob Mintram, Harold Bonnett , and Ron Cripps. That office there  with two phones, we would  sit in one corner with spacers under the hand set whilst surreptitiously dialling the other phone number, and when it was answered indulge in a call of a fictional  maintenance issue some place. Could go on for ever but it all shows the impression it all had, bearing in mind i left to join P & O in 66, at sea for 5 years then Southampton University as a Technician and thence to finish up in the Civil Service finally as the Establishment Works Consultant at R A f Odiham. Now happily retired, with sailing/boating my hobby, Meg my partner and living in Southampton, and daughters in Eastleigh, Brittany and Bulgaria. Hope some find this worth reading and happy to hear from all and sundry.


Hello. My name is Graham James Miller and I served as an apprentice fitter from 1981.
I had to look at your Eastleigh works website after I found it by accident looking for something completely different.
I had a good look through the site and noticed there was one person that was not mentioned in the blacksmiths section. It really does surprise me that he was forgotten.
I am talking about Len Miller, he was the Clerk until his last day of work Monday 13,10,1975. Every body knew Len; everybody missed him dearly after his tragic death on the above date. That is something that everybody who still worked there in 1981 told me. I was probably only about 4 years old the first time I remember going to the smith shop with Len on a Saturday morning because he would do some work to catch up on everything there just wasn’t time for in the week. Geoff Morgan is also a name I remember well from back then, he used to frighten the life out of me when he came chasing me with his hook, he had lost one of his hands in an accident, hence the hook. He used to swop his hook for a hand in a glove when he went out of the workshop. Bill Angle; yepp, that’s another one who sadly past away early. He was also a good friend of Len. And a great Austin Cambridge he owned as well. There was always a competition between Bill and Len since they both owned an Austin Cambridge. Bill always came out top there. HE HE HE. Jack Backshaw, that was a man I got to know very well. God knows how many times me and Jack got plastered at the unity club on whiskey later in the 1980`s. O h well, those were the days. You might be wondering what my relationship is???? Len Miller was my father. Please give him a mention, I am sure that everybody who remembers him will appreciate it. I will.



I have just found my grandfather, Ernest Edgar Lay, Holder-up in your employment ledgers.  My grandparents lived at 132 Campbell Road, the last house in the street and although my grandfather died when I was very young I have fond memories of visiting my Nan until she could no longer live on her own which must have been sometime in the 1950s.

The magic of arriving by train and taking a taxi the length of Campbell Road, which felt miles long, listening to the trains shunting when I was in bed, walking down to where the turntable turned the huge locomotives round, the back alleys where I played with the local children and the allotments, but the memory that lingers longest is of the factory whistle and all the men riding out to lunch on their bikes.

My brother and cousin being slightly older than me used to escape and sneak over to play on the 'lines', much against parental guidance, laying pennies on the track to be squashed by the trains and retrieving the flat ones when the train had passed!

My Grandfather also coached the local runners in the Athletics Assoc, I have a badge with his details on.

Does the Working Mens Club still exist, I wonder if they have any historical photos.

Keep up the good work.

Carol Johnson

 Added 9/12/07


By Roy Burford (now living in New Zealand)

I started my working life in August 1950, first working as an office boy in the sawmills, in the Carriage Works, on the Bishopstoke Road until I was 16 years old. Then in 1951 moved to the Locomotive Works in Campbell Road, starting my apprenticeship my first job was on the dreaded nut taper this was a big cast iron machine belt driven from a big electric motor which also had two or three smaller lathes connected to it, it had three heads holding three taps mostly 5/8 ‘whitworth’ a blank nut was placed on top of the tap and then a heavy arm was lowered on to the nut and so the nut was threaded. These nuts were used in the boiler shop on boiler stays as I remember. I was so pleased a new apprentice was starting the next Monday taking over from me !

Next job was on a lathe facing the nuts before they went to the boilers, moving on to other jobs in the machine shop, fitting ‘keeps’ into axel boxes & from there learning how to fit piston rings. Into the brass shop learning about brass valve fittings that go on to the finished locomotive, and one very boring job making brass cap nuts that were used in the smoke box, why brass ? because they did not corrode, I think the order was for 10,000 of these nuts so it was a never ending job. lots of apprentices had a turn with this order.

Moving on again to the fitting shop things became more interesting starting with brakes, connecting & piston rods, motion and even safety valves, by this time I was 18 and time for the big move to the erecting shop. I well remember working on different ‘gangs’ fitting brass fitting to boilers, internal steam pipes and at the other end of the boiler fitting the grates, getting near the end of my apprenticeship I was lucky to be working on the conversions, and was lucky to go trial to Portsmouth. At the time I felt it was a great experience. Then on to the Royal Air Force to do national service. Coming back I was working on the gang doing fabrication, this is job I had, until I left to work at Pirelli General in Leigh road.

Some of the more unusual things I remember in the years I was working ín ‘the railway’. I am claustrophobic I hated fitting the grates in fire boxes and one time, I was asked to get into a boiler and fit the regulator to the internal steam pipe as I was the thinnest one on the gang [well not now] doing the job, but how to get out? the only way was to get the crane to pull me out much to my relief. One other thing that comes to mind - open day for the Railway Orphanage a locomotive was kept for that day to be ‘wheeled’. The charge hand was the one to lay out the wheels, the locomotive was lifted over the wheels, oh dear the driving wheels round the wrong way, a few red faces.

The railway works supported the Eastleigh carnival and I had a great time along with lots of others working on the tableau’s - mostly in our own time.

. Roy Burford

back to top


These verses were written by a driver who wanted no publicity and our thanks go to:

P.R. Lovelace ex S.R C&W Works (1945)

B.R.B. HQ (M.E. Design)

B.R.E.L (Eastleigh Works)

For sending them in.


Campbell! A famous name, So too our road, it is the same,

Artisans, Drivers, Signalman too, Apprentices, Tea boys making the brew.

Men like Sam and Alf and Jock, built the Southern's railway stock.

Loco's thundering on the line, Weymouth to London, right on time.

Here comes the Bournemouth Belle, Campbell's residents knew her well.

History is here and much beside - Railways opened the country-side.

Seaside places, little known, came suddenly into their own.

Millions of people, their children too, saw the environment, anew.

Ports around our Southern Coast, Part of Railway's proud boast.

It's true to say it was for the better, holiday came and time for leisure.

A hundred years changed the Southern Scene, happier then it had ever been.

Some of the credit has to be due, to the men and women, not a few,

Who over the years lived in Campbell Road, it was their workplace and abode.

What they achieved was a vital part, keeping it beating, the Nation's heart

 back to top


Campbell Road - Present

Time has rolled the twentieth century on

Four generations of railway men, now gone.

From this road and other roads too,

Who cares about you and you and you?

What of this place you served so well?

What of the stories you could tell?

Of giant loco's built with pride,

Far better than a Disney ride.

Sleek carriages of every class,

Their proud livery, long since past,

Gone are the sons of Alf, Jock and Sam

Sacrificed to the greediness of man.

For man, must always pay the price of greed,

The things we cannot change, are above decreed.

Will the future of Campbell Road, still be there?

Will rail folk be sacrificed to the air?

Railwaymen of this Hampshire Town

You have left your mark - A Fitting Cown



back to top

Ken Hunt Memories

I remember the cotton waste!  And I also remember when in the carriage works and going to the loos people would put lighted cotton waste and send the it down the water trough. As it passed the cubicles if you were sat too comfy and for too long, it would burn your bum, (I wonder if it was the foreman!!!)


Mick Thurstons comments from a few emails

Dear Al - only discovered your astonishing website today and wanted to say thank you for so many mad (and some sad) memories. My name is Mick Thurston and I worked at the Railway Works between 1978 and 1985 (the first 4 years as VB apprentice). I know exactly what you mean when you praise the great men their incredible craftmanship and the skills and philosophies they imparted, I too have a lot to be thankful for.
I left BREL in September '85 and worked for BA for nearly 18 years followed by stints at Airbus UK and as an independent engineering consultant around the world. I currently reside in Jersey and France and act as consultant for The States of Jersey Environment Agency working on sustainable business models - not bad for a "Rock Ape". If I can help with names or anything else I will.
   You know what? I think you might be right! I do find myself harking back to "wise words" said during my time there and still recall to this day useful nuggets of information; info that perhaps at that moment had no (perceived) baring or relevence, but which in hindsight held many a truth. I have found that it's a bit like saying to your kids the things that your parents said to you, maybe not appreciated at the time but a seed has been sown! Also the beginning of the slippery slope!  
I think Richard K was a year above me but we did work on the door gang at the same time, a brilliant tradesman he was too - it was a period which I enjoyed greatly. I say that now but am I deluding myself and seeing these things through rose coloured glasses? As I also seem to recall the dread of going into that damned place on occasions.
Dick King spent some time running a pub in Brighton (The Black Lion I think) where I was living for a while during the 90's so I have actually seen him relatively recently.
I have a good mate who I still see and speak to quite a bit who also worked at the railway, Mick Cook. He would have been in the 1977-78 intake. He was a welder but I didn't see him on the welder list so maybe you could add him. 
There are many things we still laugh and wonder about to this day and when a few drinks have been consumed the reminiscing starts; you have already mentioned a couple of characters of note, Johnny Cutler and Bill Prior of course (what happened to them?). But whatever happened to Steve Cullem or Mick Collins (any idea?), or Charlie Whitlock (one of the funniest men I've ever met!). I was really surprise to see that Addie Dean is no longer with us, what happened?
It's not just the people tho', but the place and time. Can you imagine any works canteen (not many left I grant you) including a can of beer and two fags with your Christmas lunch, bloody crazy but brilliant as well. It must contravene some law or other. 
Please continue with the website, it's a pleasure to read.

very best regards, Mick.  


back to top


Murray (Jim) Allam

Hello there, my name is Murray Allam (then known as Jim) and served my time in the Eastleigh loco: works 1944-1949. Now live in Reading. Started 0n the nut tapper under C/H Jim Mobsby, an ex Nine Elms fitter, learned the hard way about locknuts by trying to to tap 2 nuts on the taper tap!!! Wash up with carbolic soap and sand was in a battered old bucket which we boys had to fill from the trough in the erecting shop. Water then warmed using a scrap quadrant slide block heated up in the stove, which was next to useless for heating the W/S but O.K for toasting sandwiches. One bad week the C/H led us a dog's life. As he was privileged to wash up first we all but boiled the water, we watched aghast as his hands moved towards the bucket and saying " You ain't a bad lot of lads, I'll get you a bonus next week."
Too late. We didn't get the bonus!

On to turret lathes, then to bedding axle boxes onto axle journals. Next to every gang in the fitting which must have been about 2 years. Pistons, rods, brake gear, safety v/vs etc: Adjusting the Ross v/vs on a Bullied Pacific under steam after the Winchester run, sitting on the boiler trusting the fitter to raise and lower pressure to 250 p.s.i?(Health and Safety!!)

Spent weeks filing to smooth finish West Country con rods to eliminate hairline cracks which appeared after machining. Moved to erecting shop where I was privileged to spend some time on Harry Frith's gang. En route was on the lagging gang when I fell off the top of a mounted boiler. My heaviness got me an upright landing.

On my 21st birthday I came back from midday break to find my boiler suit up in the roof way above the crane gantry. I hated heights at that time.

Until the war ended in 1945 the works was under artificial light. Even the blackout was removed there didn't seem to be a lot of difference it was so smoky
One fitter-better not to mention his name-had a habit of flinging lead hammers at us when the mood took him.

Then there was night school. 3 nights a week at Southampton College (latterly University) because Soton Tech had been bombed. Brass band
practice, homework,  weekends at home; it all got fitted in somehow.

Home, for most of that time was on a farm in Liphook so I stayed with a wonderful family in Darwin Road. Joined Union-Castle as a sea going engineer. One Chief Engineer I sailed with served his time at Ashford. For a time I kept watch with another Eastleigh loco apprentice. We still keep in touch. Until retirement I spent the rest of my working life in M&E maintenance: in a large government establishment.

One of my proudest possessions is my fitter/erector certificate hanging on the wall in my bedsit. I owe a lot to the old "loco works"

I too remember the old toilets, the cubicle nearest the cistern never seemed to be vacant!!!

Best wishes,



back to top

Tom Thorne

I grew up in Campbell Road and have many fond memories of the community spirit. I lived at number 31 , so what do I remember:

Does anybody have pictures or paintings of Campbell Road I would dearly like to have something permanent to remember these times by.

Best regards

Tom Thorne


back to top