Memories of working on APT

Richard North

I first worked on the APT when the first power car was delivered to the Railway Technical Centre around 1977. I was then within Group 5 of The Testing and Performance Section, Derwent House.

The Group consisted of :-

The Power Car was first to be tested and ASEA came over from I think, to assist. The base was Crewe EMD and we travelled daily from Derby on a old DMU which was very noisy and smelt of diesel fumes. We use to catch the return train from the Crewe Works own station.

Test runs were made to Speke Junction when upon arrival the HST Power Car was used to turn the test train since part of the triangle was not then electrified. We use to see children in the sidings stealing wheels from new cars that were awaiting delivery from the Ford Factory.

When the travel got excessive we use to stop at the Kings Arms in Crewe and this is where I was introduced to my first Chinese meal.

Once the rest of the vehicles had been built and the completion of door tests in the Carriage Works and static tests in the EDU Derby the unit was transferred to Shields Depot Glasgow. One of the vehicles had also been transferred into a temporary test car.

Upon arrival I remember Glasgow being very cold which would have been in January 1979 (?). The depot staff use to keep the shed doors open which did not help. We use to stop at a guest house on Maxwell Drive and call in at the Honours Three Bar near Shields Road Station. Since it was so cold we use to take a Chinese takeaway back to the Guest House.

During the stay in Glasgow I attended two matches at Hampden Park, Rangers/Hibs 0-0 replay (May) and Scotland/Peru (1-1) in September. The terraces were still had gravel fillings and at the end contained a lot of empty beer cans and spirit bottles.

We then moved guest house to Miss McKechnies at Shawlands who use to serve the largest breakfast you could have ever seen. We also stopped at a hotel at Queens Park.

During my time in Glasgow I use to go running and once went through an estate which I thought was being developed since there was a lot of builder’s rubble on the road. Next day whilst talking to,  Ian a RSI at the depot he asked where I had been running the previous night and he was shocked that when he found out I had been through the Crosshill area and the rubble would be used by rival gangs. Ian also took me to Bellahouston Leisure Centre to play squash.

The testing team stopped in Carlisle for a few weeks to ease the travelling burden but the APT commissioning team soon put a stop to this so we moved back to Glasgow. We sometimes use to work in the offices at Kingmoor Depot North of Carlisle.

I can recall during one 125 mph test run that a visitor fell onto a control panel which disabled the tilt. This incident was very scary.

Once back in Glasgow the testing became fast and furious and would get home late on a Friday night and then return on Saturday afternoon. You got paid very well but being married for only a few years I had the chance to move into the T&P analysis laboratory and work with one of the nicest persons you would want to meet. His name was Bob Johnson who also played the cornet in the Derby Salvation Band.

In the analysis lab I still worked analysing data of APT test runs including the test when the unit failed on the WC mainline and brought the network to a standstill.

If you have any memories of working on the APT - Please let me know !

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Last Revised: 18.06.2022 8:28
by R G Latham
© 1998