Standing in grandad’s shoes

Richard Charnley 'recreating his grandfather's picture
Richard Charnley 'recreating his grandfather's picture

A dusty old photograph led a grandson on a voyage of discovery.

When Richard Charnley’s mother showed him an old black and white photograph of his grandfather, a Fleetwood steam engine driver in the cab of his locomotive, he didn’t imagine that he would soon be standing on that exact spot himself.

But thanks to the internet and the National Railway Museum in York, Richard has now been able to re-create the picture, posing on the footplate of the very same locomotive.

The original picture, taken in 1938, shows driver Jack Livesey at the controls of LMS 2700 – a type nicknamed “Crabs” by railway crews.

With the fleet number clearly visible in the original photograph, Richard set about finding out what was known about it.

To his amazement, he discovered that it still exists, on display at the railway museum in York.

Having contacted museum curator Bob Gwynne, he was given special permission to go on the footplate and be photographed in the same pose as that taken by his grandfather, 76 years earlier.

Richard said: “This locomotive was built in Horwich in 1926, and finally retired at Birkenhead in 1966 as steam was being phased out. It was the very first ‘Crab’ built, which may explain how it came to be preserved”.

Until a few years ago, the loco was painted in the same black livery as in 1938, still showing the 2700 fleet number, but in 2011 the museum re-painted it in an earlier red colour scheme with its original fleet number 13000.

Richard said: “The engine is now in the Station Hall at the museum, pulling a Royal Train and looking magnificent.”

John Livesey (known as ‘Jack’) worked on the railways from joining as a boy of 14 until his retirement in 1957, following in his father’s footsteps at Fleetwood engine sheds.

He lived all his life on Poulton Road, next to the Strawberry Gardens. Richard’s mother Annie was born and grew up in Fleetwood, living in Dronsfield Road.

Now 94, she lives in Leamington Spa, near Richard. She said: “I don’t know who took the original picture or where it was taken but it was in a family album and has ‘1938’ pencilled on the back. The fireman is also clearly seen in the picture.”