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16 October 2014

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I Want To Be an Engine Driver

By Andrew Nummelin
September 2005, Blaenavon
A digital story from Capture Wales

Railway Destiny

A grandmother's interest in railways is contagious.

"After decades of moving, I'm now working in a World Heritage Site with the opportunity to have fun and start serious research into old railways of the area, trying to find and model missing links between today's colour and yesterdays misty grey.

How did this interest arise? Was it the smell of hot oil, steam and a coal fire? Was it the chance a 12 year old had to ride with the driver in a train to Blaenavon? Was it the Red Dragon pounding along with the guard looking after a young lad? Was it the holiday trips and exploring the old works, no HSE worries in those days, or running up and down the old tramways playing at being a train?

No, it was this woman who told a boy exactly what a Royal Scot engine looked like, that the first Blaenavon station was where the goods shed was, that the modern diesels were not the first motor trains.

None of this rang true to me... old ladies didn't know about such things.

But I now know that all this was correct: my Gran. That little old lady, with a gas-lit, baby clothes shop in her front room, who took me on excursion trains to Barry Island and once, when it started to rain, told me, "come out of the water, you'll get wet!" was the first railway enthusiast I ever met.

Will this little boy ever grow up?"


Please tell us a little about yourself.
I'm in partnership with my wife running a bookshop in her home town, the World Heritage Site of Blaenavon. Having had an active career in the plastics industry, living outside the UK in various continents for 3 decades, we need to remain active in "retirement"!

What's your story about?
The story touches on one of my interests, Welsh Railways, and how I was probably strongly influenced by my Grandmother. The choice of subject was influenced by, the material available, vivid memories, the desire to learn the techniques of digital story telling to help some historical research groups and the good advice of the tutors.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
Seeing the quality of presentations that could be achieved by a group of very diverse inexperienced people in such a short space of time and the knowledge and confidence gained to try the techniques elsewhere.

Your comments

"I too have had a long passion for steam engines. As a boy I used to holiday with my gran who lived in a pit village, in the nort east and was lucky enough to often ride on the foot plate of the locomotive to the coal washing plant. Sadly it's all gone now! The village is still there but its heart was ripped out like so many mining areas all over the uk. Good memories though." Steve Horsley from Merseyside

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