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Railway Practical Jokes


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I started a similar thread on the District Dave Underground site a while ago with some of the practical jokes we used to get up to on there, so thought I'd start one here.

 

Most practical jokes involved a small degree of risk, none that I know of ever threatened railway safety, maybe some minor inconvenience to the recipient of the joke! In these days of elfensafetea, does the practical joke still exist on the modern railway?

 

These are not all things I've tried, but some passed down by those no longer here.

 

At Kings Cross top shed, there used to be an old-fashioned toilet block, a row of cubicles with a wooden partition, no real drainage and just an open gutter to take the waste away. Sometimes "someone would block up the outlet end with some rags, then soak another rag in paraffin and set light to it from the "trap" at the other end. It would of course float its way along until the poor chap sitting at the other end would have to make a hasty retreat with his trousers round his ankles...

 

Another one was to put a dustbin lid over the chimney on the shunters' cabin....soon disturbed their tea break!

 

Fishplate grease on the earpiece of a trackside telephone was always one to catch the unwary.

 

Not so much a joke, but at Hanslope loop on the WCML in steam days, the loop would hold about 4 trains. The fireman on the second loco would tie the loco coupling to the brake van in front with a bit of string. when train in front moved off, string would break, coupling falls, amkes a noise, wakes up sleeping crew, then they's move along.

 

I'm sure there's many more out there.

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Guest stuartp

We used to have a District Inspector who, when it was his weekend on call, invariably did a box visit on Saturday morning then nipped across the road to the market for a good rummage around. He was a complete stickler for the rules - no visitors, no radios, no tellys. (Using a BR van to look round markets on a Saturday morning on overtime was apparently ok though).

 

One Saturday his expected visit coincided with April 1st, so very early that morning the early turn man carefully screwed an old TV aerial to the side of the box, shoved the cable through a knothole in the wood, and sat back to await events.

 

I was a couple of boxes further on, and right on cue at 11 am I got a phone call.

 

"It's me, he fell for it !"

"I take it he's gone now ?"

"No, he's still there. I'm in the porters' room, I'm suspended fom duty while he searches the box for the telly. He's taking the floorboards up at the moment..."

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The lift in Gresley House at Doncaster had a safety device on the doors to detect if anything was trapped. If you were on the landing and wiggled the door in the right way the lift would stop between floors for a couple of minutes. We never got the Divisional Manager but we had a good laugh at the expense of his assistants

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A former Piccadilly line driver of my acquaintance told me about a wag at Cockfosters depot who occasionally chose to drive into underground stations with his face lit from below by green light from a torch. I suppose it relieved the boredom...

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Putting some strips of red tape on the master mimic display while the supervisor is out of the room is a good one; if everyone is staring at the screen when he walks back in, the assumption is made that there's a dropped track circuit. With luck, some panicky calls are made to signalling technicians before the sup looks at the local display on the computer.

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The unintentional practical joke, around and about the London area. Visitors from the land of the free across the pond are generally aware that London boasts an extensive underground railway network. In my home area they are somewhere near London - they know that (actually 21 miles from Trafalgar Square) - and seeing a prominent sign 'Subway' they naturally enough go to look for an underground train.

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I can think of two big jokes on the modern railway, the two bunches of clowns known as the Department For Transport (aka DaFT) and the clueless vandalised and farcical mess that is First Capital Connect...

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Hi,

 

Of course there's always the classic joke at the Depots to send the new bloke / work experience kid along to stores to get one of the following:

 

A Long Weight

Stripy Paint

Bucket of Steam

Waterproof Teabag

Thread for a Bolt etc.

 

Simon

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We had a driver that walked down the platform at Charing Cross on April 1st morning, he was wearing dark glasses and carrying a white stick. He asked the nearest punter if he was at the front of the train, and on being told 'yes' climbed aboard...

 

An old one was to climb onto the roof of the mess van (an old brake with the fire lit) and pee down the chimney, the ammonia would soon cause the occupants to emerge cursing!

 

 

Andi

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A few I've come across down the years...

 

Dropping detonators down brake van stove pipes / leaving one in the stove and covering it with coal to await the next occupant,

 

Dropping dets down the chimney of shunter's cabins and waiting for the door to fly open,

 

Putting a brick on the dead mans pedal of a loco and ducking down below out of sight of passengers as you drive through stations,

 

Sawing an inch at a time off the depot cleaner's broom handle and watching him scratch his head wondering why he has to bend over more every time he uses it... a shabby Coalville trick that one!

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We had a driver that walked down the platform at Charing Cross on April 1st morning, he was wearing dark glasses and carrying a white stick. He asked the nearest punter if he was at the front of the train, and on being told 'yes' climbed aboard...

 

 

Andi

 

A certain Old Oak driver was suspended for doing this at Paddington one afternoon, apparently Lord and Lady someone or other were aboard this particular HST and dobbed the poor bloke in!

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A former Piccadilly line driver of my acquaintance told me about a wag at Cockfosters depot who occasionally chose to drive into underground stations with his face lit from below by green light from a torch. I suppose it relieved the boredom...

Yeh, done that a few time myself!

 

I do like the broomstick one!!

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Best one I ever heard of was asking a newbie shunter to 'watch in' (jump aboard as it passes and apply the handbrake) a loose shunted brakevan. They would soon jump off again when they discovered the handbrake wheel had been removed!

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Hi,

 

Of course there's always the classic joke at the Depots to send the new bloke / work experience kid along to stores to get one of the following:

 

A Long Weight

Stripy Paint

Bucket of Steam

Waterproof Teabag

Thread for a Bolt etc.

 

Simon

 

We had a variation on this when I worked at the BP research centre to send someone to stores for a box of atomic weights.

 

Coat on and leaving now.

 

Jamie

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Not really a practical joke this but it did make us all laugh......

 

Back in the days when I worked at the Docklands Light Railway commissioning the B90 stock we were on a test train running in auto. It took itself of to Stratford station where, being in Auto is stopped an opened its doors. As the doors opened there was a gent on the platform who totally comformed to the American Tourist Stereotype.

 

seeing us in the train he came across and said, "gee bud, can you tell me the way to Ann Hathaways cottage?"

 

We couldn't put the poor man right for being doubled up in histerics. Luckily the ATO system set the route out, the doors closed and the train departed with us still in stitches

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A favourite at work is, once a unit has arrived in the depot for an exam, to place a dead pheasant inside a traction motor and shut the covers back up. Obviously the motor is quite warm, so when the apprentice is sent down to clean the motors and check the brushes, he gets a nice surprise of a partially cooked, manky pheasant dropping out of the motor!

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When my mate Ted was based at Hitchin shed, he and a mate set up a joke.

They started a a rumour that they hated each other, for the benefit of the new

manager. The result was that one day after a fierce row in the mess room,

[which incl. death threats] they both stormed out and shortly after 'shots' were

heard.

The new manager came rushing out of his office, somewhat worried, to find

them, trying not to laugh too loudly, standing over a couple spent fog detonators!

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Booking on one night the foreman said your engine is at the side of the shed your mates already on it. Got the shock of my life when climbing aboard the dimly lit 47, a great night began. Knowing Tommy he probabley wore the mask on a few DMU turns ! Great mate to be with, now sadly no longer with us.

 

post-6977-0-49608100-1341642964.jpg

 

Tom

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Seeing the above, when I was a guard on LT, I had a mate Charlie B who had just passed out as guard from being an operating apprentice, about 1971/72 time. He came for a ride with me to Upminster in a CO stock. We had an ape mask with us for some reason.

 

Every so often Charlie's head would appear out of the back cab wearing the monkey mask. We got to about Westminster, and a load of students in fancy dress got on the train. Of course, Charlie donned said mask, complete with LT hat on top and went through the coach asking "tickets please"....fun watching the students wresting inside their monkey for their tickets!

"

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I was once told of a ganger between the wars, who upset has gang one foggy Christmas Eve. By sending away with a flea in her ear a rather tiddly lady of ill repute. Who, having somehow found her way to the cabin where they were on standby, had offered to do the whole gang for half a crown. The gang then waited until the ganger fell asleep and cut half an inch off his wooden leg. According to the story this upset his balance just enough that he kept tripped and fell over several times the following day.

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Sole Street Station, Monday afternoon. The phone rings. "Hello, Sole Street? Divisional Office Beckenham here. I was passing through your station earlier today, and it's a mess - get it cleaned up will you? I shall be back your way on Friday." Leading Railman Davis spent the whole week polishing everything in sight.

 

Sole Street Station, Friday morning. The phone rings. "Hello, Sole Street? Farningham Road here." "What do you want?" says Reg Davis, suspiciously. "You know that bloke from Beckenham? Well - he ain't coming now!" Reg Davis's response at this point does not bear repeating on a family forum....

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The story i've heard many times dates back to cross London freights on the Widened Lines. It the train was double headed, so the story goes, the crew of the first loco would set the shovel up to act as a funnel into the firehole then pee onto it for the benefit of the crew behind whilst passing through one of the tunnels.

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Travelling north on an HST out of Kings Cross, the buffet announcements got more and more effeminate as we got further north.

Finally the trolley arrived, pushed by two blokes wearing horror masks, but STILL talking in effeminate, high pitched voices. Passengers either laughed, or looked like they wern't sure what to do.

 

A driver going north "on the cushions" looked across at me and rolled his eyes, as if to say, "they are nowt to do with me".

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