This week, the Church Mice Writers wrote about tea. (I can neither confirm nor deny this was due to the facilitator being cross with technology and needing to nip off to make a quick, calming brew!)
The first piece was written by David T:
Tea and the Great Central
Tea, or to be more precise the lack of it, has the capacity to bring a heritage steam railway to a standstill.
From the beginning of each day, and just before lighting up their locomotive, the intended crew insist on having a cup of tea in the Mess Hut.
Again before oiling up commences, it is necessary to have another cup of tea before going down under the loco with oil can and large rag.
Nearing the point of full steam and almost ready to go, the crew are joined by the train guard and Operations Manager for instructions and of course, a cup of tea.
For the journey a tin can known as a ‘billycan’ is filled with tea and placed above the loco fire hole door. This delight can be imbibed at any opportune moment.
Further tea making during the journey requires the billycan to be primed with packet tea followed by the expert use of the slake pipe. The original intended use of this rubber hose pipe is to wash down the loco footplate with scalding water from the boiler. The crew will tell you that tea brewing is an essential secondary function.
If the train has cause to wait for a length of time the train guard will also enjoy some refreshment in his brake van. Vans on freight trains have small cast iron stoves installed for warmth and of course making tea.
Back in the engine shed, the staff continue to work on the considerable fleet of locomotives. That is until mid morning when the shout of ‘tea up’ vibrates around the old shed walls.
The mess hut quickly fills up with dirty engineers, joined frequently by the shed cat.
During tea drinking with the lads, the cat will sit on the first available pair of knees and divest itself of a vile mixture of loco ash and inevitable steam oil.
It can be clearly seen that failure of the tea supply would bring the entire railway to a very thirsty halt!
Read another ‘tea’ piece here.
Come back soon for other group member’s tea related pieces!