Sam Buckley, with one of his winter-weather boards,
installed to help protect the crew from the extreme
conditions on the Peakland moors.
Crew of the last scheduled steam train from Middleton Top to Parsley Hay,
April 1967. Arthur Millward (guard), Sam Buckley (driver),
Dennis Vallance (fireman)
Sam's family placed this plaque on a seat they provided
at Middleton Top, on what is now the High Peak Trail.
Sam BUCKLEY, engine driver, 1903-1972
[Photos, text and pedigree supplied by
Max Hodnett ,thanks Max]
SAM BUCKLEY, who drove the last steam locomotive on the fondly
remembered Cromford and High Peak Railway, was not just an engine-driver.
He was a remarkable railwayman — highly skilled in the craft of nursing
the best out of steam engines over one of the most testing routes in the
country. The 33-mile track, noted for its inclines up which wagons were
hauled by stationary steam engines, linked the Cromford and Peak Forest
canals. It corkscrewed its way over inhospitable terrain from High Peak
Junction, near Cromford, to Whaley Bridge, near Stockport. Sam (1903-1972)
was a Middleton man who moved to Wirksworth ten years after his marriage
to Louie Mary Radford in 1926. He began work on the railway when he was
still 13, having gained exemption from a requirement to stay at school
until the age of 14. Moving up from the ranks, first as a cleaner, then
a fireman, he became driver and it was in this role that he gained his
reputation for excellence. After he drove the last scheduled train in
April, 1967, he settled down to retirement but nine days later was
unexpectedly called back to save the British Rail from embarrassment.
They had arranged a number of final enthusiast specials, using two
locomotives working as a pair, and manned by Buxton crews. Twice they
failed to take these trains up the notorious Hopton Incline. Peter Gater,
a lifelong railway enthusiast and friend of Sam, recalls: "For the third
attempt, Sam, in his Sunday suit, had been spotted among the crowds
assembled at Middleton Top and had been persuaded to once more take to
the footplate of his old faithful No. 68012. Off they went . . . blasting
out from Hopton Tunnel and raising the echoes for the ascent of the incline.
Yet again the Buxton men allowed the pilot engine to lose adhesion, but
Sam's magic touch held the train engine and for some time in this manner
he both assisted the slipping and winded pilot engine and at the same time
hauled the passenger-laden guard's van to a final ascent."
Sam was helped on the footplate by one of his sons, Edward, a fireman
with the C. and H. P. R. He had four sons, all of whom at one time worked
on the railways. The eldest, Samuel Francis, was a signalman and district
controller. The third-born, John, was for a time a clerk in the Divisional
Operating and Trains Office and Engines and Engineman's Diagrams at Derby,
and Geoff, was clerk in the Chief Mechanical and Electrical Engineer HQ,
Personnel Office, Derby.
Supplied by Max Hodnett
A Stephenson Society special, one of which Sam Buckley helped to
"rescue" after it failed to ascend the notorious Hopton Incline.
Click on photo for enlargement (on CD only)
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