Kindly submitted by By David J K Jones
On the 11th September 1966 aged ten years old I “drove” a train between Pontycymmer and Blaengarw – and before school too!
How can I be so certain of the date? It was the day after Muhammad Ali defeated the German Karl Mildenberger for the Heavyweight Championship of the world and it was the most talked about topic by my Uncle Reg Davis, a train driver, who visited our house that morning.
My late Uncle Reg who hailed from Llantrisant, was the younger brother of my mother Sylvia and Suez veteran was a train driver who regularly frequented the mining valleys to collect drams of coal from the various collieries. He would stop his train behind the St John’s Ambulance Hall and climb the short slope up to Prospect Place and have breakfast with my family.
On this particular day he asked me if I wanted to join him on the rest of his journey up to Blaengarw and I naturally jumped at the chance. I had never been in the driver’s compartment of a train before and was quite thrilled to be given the chance.
Just after we set off Uncle Reg said “Hold this handle Dave” which I did. He added, “You are now driving the train”. I have no doubts that he was in full control of the train but according to him and technically I suppose that he was right, I was in fact “driving” the thing. I stood there, frozen to the spot!
We soon pulled into Blaengarw within a few minutes where some un-coupling went on and after a short break we were on our way back down the valley.
Reg stopped the train at the back of the Ambulance Hall again and I alighted and popped my head into the house just to inform my mother that I hadn’t caused and derailments or multiple pile ups and made my way off to Ffaldau Junior School where I had a great story to tell all my mates in class.
Soon after Reg drove the Inter City trains all around the United Kingdom and didn’t drive any more of the coal trains in and out of the mining communities. Sadly, he died of a virus in 1972 aged just 37. His Grandson, my cousin Bradley Davies plays for the Wales national rugby team today.