In 1871, Charlie Gibbons - as a baby in arms – was taken on one of the first passenger trains to run on the newly-opened LMS railway line which passed through Helmdon.
Three years ago, he watched rather sadly, the last passenger train puff along the rusting and overgrown track.
At 83 Charlie probably knows more about the railways in Helmdon than anyone else alive.
Little wonder. Besides “seeing” the start of the LMS line he also helped to build the LNER line which passes nearly.
Lowered in a bucket
It was about 1894 that he went to work with the contractors on the North Eastern line.
At that time, the LMS line was really busy – 100 trucks of ballast were unloaded there every day.
Soon after the line was competed, Charlie took a job on the London Underground.
He worked as a timekeeper and remembers being lowered into the bowels of the earth in a bucket (“no escalators then”).
Those were the early days of electrification and steam goods trains still used the Underground railway tracks.
Charlie’s wife is 84. She is still quite active, and thoroughly enjoys whist drives – and entering crossword competitions.
Mercury & Herald – 4th June 1954