The Cheshire train driver who couldn’t watch the last steam locomotive leave Crewe

As the last steam locomotive pulled away from Crewe, a train conductor turned away and placed his hand on his head as the emotional occasion grew too strong.

The poignant moment came in February 1967 when British Railways Standard Class 7 locomotive 70013 Oliver Cromwell, the last of its kind at Crewe Works, left town.

The train, now preserved by the National Railway Museum, was one of the last four steam locomotives to run on the last steam rail tour in 1968.

Find out more about the best stories from all over Cheshire here.

But it was also the last British Railways-owned to undergo a routine heavy overhaul at Crewe Works and was overtaken in a special ceremony.

In a photo of the occasion from the archives, the Mayor of Crewe, Cllr Herbert Vernon, can be seen on board the train as it departs.



Crewe train conductor Len Carter with his wife Amy

But in the foreground is train driver Charles Leonard Carter, known as Len, with his back to the locomotive, his head in his hand.

And now his granddaughter, Kate Southwell, has revealed more about the ‘loyal’ train driver who has lived in Crewe all her life and started working on the railways shortly after completing school.

The 59-year-old, who now lives in Sandbach, said: “His father worked on the railway and his stepfather was also a locomotive engineer.

“He (Len) was a family man, had three children and he lived in Crewe all his life, as did his parents. They actually came from Oxfordshire to work on the railway. So there is a pretty big story there.

“He was a loving grandfather and he was very proud of his role. He really enjoyed his job.”

During World War II, Len’s role was classified as a “reserved occupation”, meaning he was not required to join the armed forces and continued to drive the trains throughout the conflict.



Crewe works in the 1970s
Crewe works in the 1970s

He lived on Bramhall Road with his wife Amy, spending time with his children, grandchildren and ginger crossbreed dog Mitzy.

Len retired from his role as a train conductor at the age of 65 and died in 1984 aged 79.

Kate said she was not at all surprised her grandfather reacted the way he did when 70013 Oliver Cromwell left Crewe, describing him as “loyal to the railways”.

“I had never seen the photo before and wondered if he was there at the time, so it was a nice surprise to see him suddenly appear,” she said.

“I have quite a few photos but none of them relate to work. He looked really sad and tired.”

When asked if she had fond memories of Len growing up, she said: “I remember when I went to my first high school, they were on a trip to Austria.



Each area that submits a bid will be assessed on a number of criteria, including suitability for ‘levelling’ objectives, being connected and easily accessible, having rail heritage and links to the network, offering good value for money and win public support. .

There are four key steps in the process:

Step 1 Deadline for expressions of interest from potential bidders set for 16 March.

2nd step Shortlists announced in May.

Step 3 After the pre-selection, the ministers will visit the pre-selected cities and a public vote will take place.

Step 4 The location of the new HQ will be announced this summer.

“At the time I think it was £95 and he gave me the money to go. My very first and only ski trip and he paid for it. impromptu.

“He always used to have a good supper at night and I always remember that because I used to go see them when my parents were out.

“And he always took me with him when he went out to walk the dog.”

Kate said if Len were alive today he would have been very supportive of the campaign to bring Great British Railways headquarters to Crewe.

“He would have been thrilled. He would have thought it was wonderful,” she said.

“Crewe deserve it. So many men, especially during the war, spent their lives running the country and that’s what the railroad was for.

“We need him. I think we would accept him and do a good job with him. He would be an asset to the whole country if it was Crewe.

“When you see all the buildings back then, it really seems like a shame. It was such a vibrant city and people moved here from so many counties for work.”

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