I found this picture via Google Images. Where we lived when I was a child the LNER line from Liverpool Street to Chingford went past the front of our house. My Father commuted to and from London daily, and sometimes we would wait at the upstairs window to see his train go by and he would wave his newspaper (the “London Evening News“) out of the window. Unless my memory is tricking me I think that one of their real tank engines carried this number so my toy was quite special to me. I kept it for many years, but on unpacking it eventually I found that the wheels had disintegrated. They were made of metal by some sort of casting process I suppose, but they broke up with age. Strange !
The real thing looked more like this . . .
As I remember them, standing in the platform at Liverpool Street after the run from Chingford (this would have been in the late 1930s) the Westinghouse pump (for the train brakes) was on the side nearest the platform, ie : the locomotive’s left side, but this may be memory playing up. What is not a false memory is that the pump operated with a very distinctive, sharp, “Poom – Pah- Poom – Pah” noise, and the sound of this on several locomotives echoed round the station and formed the background to your time there. I always hoped, and in my memory this is what we did, that we would go to Gamages Department store and to its toy department where there was a large (to me) Hornby train layout always operating and I would be glued there until I was torn away. But, if I was lucky, we might go on the tram, and I would watch the driver with his two big brass handles and try to fathom what they did. He appeared to twiddle them round singly or together with little apparent effect except that the tram started and stopped where it should do. Sometimes it went down into the ‘Kingsway’ tunnel, and that was very exciting.
One year, it must have been very close to the beginning of the war, Christmas 1938 or even 1939, Gamages offered a submarine ride. We went into a little room with a window, and amid various noises, water rose up past the window glass so we were definitely submerged ! Looking back now I can see that it must have been a fairly simple, if imaginative, piece of work, but at the time I was very impressed and believed what I saw implicitly. In June 1939 the papers were full of the accident to the submarine HMS ‘Thetis’, which makes me wonder if this trip to Gamages was in fact in 1939, as I understood what it was all about very well.