It is with great sadness that I report the recent passing away, after illness, of Brian Grant. His career on the railways from Apprentice fitter at Salisbury shed though to working at the British Railways Board HQ via a number of operational department roles on the Southern Region, Station master duties at Paddington and Controller of the London section of the London Midland Region is documented in his book ‘Home and Distant:A 40-year Railway Career from Apprentice Fitter to BRB Headquarters, 1952-93’
I first came across Brian when I browsed his ‘Home and Distant’ book and realised that the story within his first chapter about how he used to bunk the shed at Salisbury, sneaking up the entrance steps and under the shed timekeeper hatch without being spotted, was identical to the tale often recounted by my Dad who used to the same thing. I decided therefore to purchase Brian’s book for my Dad as a Christmas present. Once it was unwrapped, I said to Dad just read chapter one, after doing so and reading the authors biography on the back cover, he looked at me and pointing to a Christmas card on the shelf and said that Christmas card is from Brian! My Dad and Brian although a couple of years difference in age were part of the same gang of friends who used to bunk the shed, small world isn’t it? They had only kept in touch with a simple exchange of cards each Christmas but since that day had written more regularly to each other, so in the end a present worth much more than could have been anticipated!
Brian, due to his extensive experience and knowledge of railway control also wrote a number of other books: British Railways Wagons parts 1 and 2, covering their usage, loads and loading. I offer my condolences to his family and friends, may he rest in peace.
Since I first published this post I have received the following from a friend of mine who like Brian had an extensive career on the railways who made this lovely comment: “Brian was a very nice bloke who worked in London Division HQ on the Western for a while back in the late 1960s when I was there. In later years I occasionally had reason for contact with him in his BRB job and unlike many who went to the Kremlin he kept his feet very firmly on the ground. He was also one of those ‘oh you know Brian do you?’ folk who because he had been around the railway a bit was known and liked in a number of places – as I found when my railway life took me into the land of the 3rd rail.”