It had been a good life for Robert. Born in 1933 in Bristol he spent many a happy year shunting wagons full of coal around Lamport Ironstone Mines in Northamptonshire.

When the mine closed in 1969, Robert said farewell to his friends and spent a very happy retirement running up and down heritage railways. Pulling excited families along rural lines, it was a good retirement.

But his wheels got a bit tired and the old fire started to puff a bit less, so in 1993 he moved to London, and spent a few years watching people going about their business in Beckton and then in the year of the Millenium, he came to bustling Stratford.

Robert was very pleased with his new home, with lots of people coming over to chat to him every day.

Things were changing in Stratford though, as the Fat Controller had ordered a huge sporting event to take place nearby. The big train station was getting a lick of paint, and the little tube trains that used it were all chattering excitedly about how busy they would be.

Robert felt a little bit sad to be missing out on the fun, but then the East Anglian Railway Museum took a look at him and exclaimed that what he really needed was a good polish and clean.

This delighted Robert, so off to Suffolk he went, where the engineers and drivers polished and painted and repaired good old Robert. He was very happy with his new paint, which matched the colours he wore when he was quite young.

In June 2012, Robert came back to Stratford for a new home right in front of the station. Robert was very proud to be here, where millions of people would see him during all the sporting events next door.

Robert’s still here, sitting proudly outside the station, although he’s a bit annoyed right now as the local buses have been making fun of him and wrapped some of their tape around his wheels.

He’s still happy though, saying hello to all the people who pass by. It’s a good retirement he thinks.

Toot Toot said Robert.

Toot Toot said Ian.


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  1. Rodney Maennling says:

    Ian, you bring out the “boy” in all of us human beings. Good writing! In this modern world we need more of this sort of thing!
    Rodney, Vancouver Island

  2. Andrew Gwilt says:

    A good name to name this train outside Stratford station. I think it will stay forever.

  3. Tom Rainbow says:

    LOVE IT!!

  4. Sherb says:

    And I am sitting right near the Greenwich Meridian and I often wonder if my tender behind is in the east and my funnel is in the west? Somebody tell me 🙂

  5. Tony S says:

    This is the classic UK train lover, following the Thomas the Tank Engine children’s stories which are brilliant, if a little dated!
    Nice one Ian, I passed Robert yesterday and this has brought much pleasure as my dad’s name is Robert RIP 2010.

  6. Angela Baker says:

    Thanks for the report, Ian 🙂 I heard about Robert from a friend who suggested meeting at Stratford bus station tonight pre-meal, ‘by the steam engine called Robert’. So, curiosity aroused, I Googled said Robert, & landed here!

    Names-wise, a very apt report for me too, as my Dad’s name is Ian & our cat is Bob, (aka Robert Nathaniel) 🙂

  7. Trevor Haynes says:

    An interesting story, romantically written. However, I am sorry to burst your bubble as there were no ‘mines’ as such in Northamptonshire. The county of Northamptonshire was fortunate enough to have a useful stratum of ironstone just beneath ground level. All that was needed was the removal of the top layer of soil (the ‘overburden’) in order to release the natural raw material for iron production. Much of this work was done at first by labourers digging out the soil by hand and loading it manually into trucks which would be taken away by the likes of Robert. Similarly, once the overburden had been removed, the iron ore itself was dug out and carted off in railway trucks. In later years this was mechanised with the use of steam and then electric drag lines or mechanical buckets. Several extensive narrow-gauge ironstone railway systems and aerial rope-ways served the quarries in the county and most of them are written up in the books produced by Eric Tonks in the 1980s/90s. Railways were also used to feed coal to the steam quarrying machines but the main work was to cart away the overburden and to take the ironstone to the local blast furnace.

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