Memories of a life on the railways

Reader Tom Rippin, of Little Bowden, has recently discovered a photographic treasure trove  documenting his great uncle, Reuben Horsley's life working on the railways in the Midlands, and further afield.

By Alison Bagley
Monday, 11th March 2019, 3:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 5:02 pm
Workers on the line
Workers on the line

Tom writes: "My late great uncle Reuben Horsley, who lived in Market Harborough, drove trains from Harborough for many years until the railways got taken over by British Rail and he moved to Crewe to drive there." Born in London, Mr Horsley was evacuated during the Second World War when he was a schoolboy, moving to live with his grandparents in Westhorpe, Ashley in Northamptonshire. Tom continues: "He left school and after a brief job cleaning typewriters, he decided he wanted to work on the railways and got a job as a fireman, keeping the fires for the furnaces in the engines going, shovelling coal. His career progressed and he became a driver and was driving steam trains from Harborough until Dr Richard Beeching started his reshaping of the railways in the early 60’s. This resulted in many of the small stations closing. So he decided to move to Crewe where he went on to drive diesel trains as they came in." Many of the stations that Mr Horsley would have known have now closed. Kelmarsh now forms part of the Brampton valley way cycle route - a 14-mile (23 km) rail trail built on the way of the former Northampton to Market Harborough Railway. Tom finishes: "He used to tell stories about when cows used go on the tracks from neighbouring fields and they had to stop the trains, also when my dad ( his nephew) was a child he used to stand on the bridges as he went underneath uncle Reuben sounded the steam whistle." Read more at:

Mr Horsley fourth from the right
Mr Horsley in the cab of a push and pull passenger engine/train
Mr Horsley (on right) with engine 6701 at Stamford in 1947
Driver Len Eales, fireman Mr Reuben Horsley and train guard Mr Clitheroe in 1947
Mr Horsley in the cab of the 60017 - Silver Fox locomotive at Peterborough in 1960
The Crewe to Cardiff run - on March 23, 1979. Mr Horsley can be seen through the window of the comfortable modern cab.