A view from the line #14 the cleaner rung of the ladder

Fisherton Sarum is set in the time when many boys, if asked about a career, wanted to be an “Engine Driver”. The dream of becoming a Driver in charge of crack express such as the ‘ACE’ or ‘Devon Belle’ whilst understandable, was not in those days a quick or easy process.  For nearly all such drivers the first step on the ladder, often literally,  maybe for boys as young as 14, was that of  ‘Engine Cleaner’.

Cleaners aptly at work on the side of Bullied West Country Class 21C102 ‘Salisbury’. There wooden steps / platform is being put to good use.

This initial role that included other shed duties such as fire raising, assisting fitters and boiler smiths (with the usually very dirty and less than glamorous tasks) would be for well over 12 months. After which, without any formal additional training  they might be examined by the Locomotive Inspector and upgraded to being a ‘Passed Cleaner’ This new rank enabled them to be utilised by the shed foreman for firing turns on shunting duties and sometimes local goods trains. Eventually after such turns the Passed Cleaner would gain further promotion to Fireman and would then have to work up through the rosters  known as ‘Links’ before becoming a top link fireman for express services. Then progress  onto Passed Fireman and ultimately Driver starting once again in the bottom link before eventually progress up the links to be able to drive trains such as the ‘ACE’ or ‘Devon Belle’. Progress up all the links whether a Fireman or a Driver was often slow and often relied on members of links above you retiring or moving on.

Merchant Navy 21C6 received attention from the Fisherton Sarum Engine Cleaners before its next turn of duty on the Atlantic Coast Express.

I have a number of Cleaners going about their duties on Fisherton Sarum. Most are from either the Dart Castings or G T Stevens Model Railways range of white metal castings, suitably painted. Following the introduction of the air smoothed Bulleid pacifics,  ladders and or platforms were required, both for cleaning and filling the sandboxes,  and these often were made from what ever materials the shed had available or could get hold of at the time.

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