Meet the men who lived every schoolboy’s dream

Derek James looks back at life at the old Carrow Road locomotive depot.

When I grow up I want to be... one of these chaps.

Ask a boy what job he dreamed of doing when he was a man and there was a good chance he would say – a train driver.

In days gone by I was one of the boys standing on bridges and by the side of the track waving at the mighty and magnificent steam locomotives as they came racing along the Norwich to London line.

What a noise! What a smell! What a sight!

And as we stood and watched, there was the driver, waving back at us, as the train, belching out smoke, came roaring past.

So I was delighted when former train driver John Pipe popped into see me with this glorious picture of the drivers and their mates, thought to have been taken at the old Carrow Road locomotive depot.

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It was lent to him by Pearl Hennings of Drayton, the daughter of the late Mickey Blake, sitting in the middle on the top of the engine.

'I think it was taken during the late 1930s or early 1940s – during the war – and is of a collection of engine drivers and firemen wearing shiny hats and fitters and mates with cloth caps,' he said.

There was always a special bond between members of the railway family in Norwich and that has been handed down over the decades and through the generations.

It has been a pleasure to write about the annual reunions for the railway workers over the years and spread the word.

The get togethers take place at Arkwright's at the top of Hall Road in Norwich and are going from strength to strength.

'Over the years we have had retired members turn up from Spain and Australia.

'Let's hope we see some more faces we haven't seen for a while this time,' said John.

There will be a warm welcome for anyone – men and women – who worked on the railways in any capacity over the years.

And John pointed out there may be some living on their own. This is an opportunity to get out and meet old friends.

'We like to think that we are a family and that we do what to stay in touch and help each other,' said John.

The reunion is at Arkwrights, on Friday April 8 at 7.45pm. There will be a free buffet. More details from John Pipe on 01603 407545.