Monday 23 January 2017

Robert Fisk: Relic of steam age still on track to outlast us all

The spit-and-polish black livery of the No 186 locomotive brings memories flooding back to Robert Fisk after seeing it on the platform at Connolly

Published 18/09/2010 | 05:00

THE 10.50 from Dublin Connolly to Maynooth, No 186, a J-15 class 0-6-0 steam loco in spit-and-polish black livery, was born exactly 20 years before my father. Bill Fisk was born in 1899. But No 186, moved out of the Manchester factory of Sharp, Stewart & Co in 1879, and looks like it was born yesterday. More to the point, it is still steaming and hissing and 'chunnering' its way across Ireland's broad-gauge metals to this day.

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Indeed, there it was this week, standing at Platform 2 at Connolly Station.

Many were the rain-soaked days when Bill Fisk stood forlornly on Southern Railway platforms while his wretched son, Ian Allen's loco-spotters' book in hand, ticked off the tank engines that pulled the Maidstone-Ashford local down to Bearsted. In those far-off years, there was no thought of being a foreign correspondent. I wanted to be -- like millions of my juvenile contemporaries -- an engine driver. And like those children who worshipped steam and hated diesel, I never gave up on my dream. I didn't really want to be a driver. I just wanted steam to last forever.

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