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About Me

How it all started


My memories of steam are of grimy O4s trundling noisily through Shirebrook North on 16T coal trucks in the mid 1960s. Here is a photo of preserved O4 63601 on the Great Central at Leicester North on 27th January 2002.

As a special treat, I was occasionally taken to the ECML at Retford to watch the express passenger trains flying through, headed by Gresley Pacifics and green Deltics. It was during these visits that the sight and sound of the Deltics began my enthusiasm for English Electric built locomotives. I moved to Doncaster in 1973 and, in the evenings and at weekends, I was usually to be found on an 'East Midlands' rover riding up and down the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster & Peterborough. I have been a life member of the Deltic Preservation Society since 1979.

Andrew Watts

I was also impressed by the Class 50s as they came through Doncaster Works for refurbishment and from 1982 onwards, when the Deltics were all withdrawn, I switched to 'West of England' rovers riding behind 50s until their withdrawal from normal service in May 1992. May 1992 was, coincidentally of course, when I got married, although my wife Helen regularly accompanied me on these trips 'South' and subsequent railtours.

The second photograph is of myself driving 50035 Ark Royal, and was taken by my wife Helen at Kidderminster during my Footplate Experience Course at the Severn Valley Railway on Friday 10th August, 2001.

50035 Cab

The third photograph is the view from the drivers seat of 50035 looking South at Bridgnorth whilst awaiting departure to Kidderminster during the same course. Information on these excellent Footplate Experience Courses can be obtained from either The Fifty Fund web site or the Severn Valley Railway.


The fourth photograph is of Class 50 D444 (50044), at Ropley, Mid Hants Railway, on Friday 21st May, 2004 in a non authentic but distinctive two tone green livery. D444 has been my favourite Class 50 since the late 1970s and is now, along with 50031 Hood, 50035 Ark Royal and 50049 Defiance, operated and maintained by The Fifty Fund.

D444 Dedication

The final photograph, also taken by my wife Helen, is of the rededication ceremony of D444 on Saturday 14th October, 2006 at Kidderminster, forming part of the Severn Valley Railway's festival to mark the completion of the overall canopy and buffet. Lieutenant Commander Scott Sellars, Logistics Officer, HMS Exeter was invited to perform the ceremony and is pictured with (from left) Roland Bull, Scott Lewis, Craig Kinsey and myself. D444 is fitted with BR(W) style nameplates contemporary with her Green livery.

Further details about 50031 (D431) Hood, 50035 (D435) Ark Royal, D444 (50044) Exeter and 50049 (D449) Defiance, and also information on how to become a shareholder, can be found at The Fifty Fund web site.

Working on the Railway

I started my railway career on 15th September 1979 working for Travellers Fare on an excursion from Sheffield to Stratford upon Avon & return which was hauled by 40167. The last train that I worked was an excursion from Doncaster to Berwick upon Tweed & return on 19th September 1981 which was hauled by 47217.


I returned to the railway with Virgin Trains on 13th September 2004 at Birmingham New Street station and then returned to onboard catering in April 2005.

On Thursday 7th June 2007 I was invited to be the Retail Service Manager on the Press Launch of Biodiesel being trialled using 220007. Here is a photo of Richard Branson and Gordon Brown at London Euston with me in my Virgin uniform in the background.


Until February 2017 I worked for Arriva CrossCountry in Birmingham. Here are photographs of 220017, the first Voyager in the striking new CrossCountry livery, at Birmingham New Street on 14th November 2007.


43285, XC01 and 43321, the first refurbished CrossCountry HST, at Edinburgh Waverley on 24th September 2008 after it's test run between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

The interior of the Mk III coaches were also completely refurbished. Some of these coaches were originally loco hauled from the West Coast Main Line.

43285 + XC01 + 43321


Although I retired from the railway in 2017, I work as required at Stafford station, initially with Virgin Trains and now Avanti West Coast.



I also write the monthly Railwayana column in Railways Illustrated magazine. Full details of forthcoming railwayana auctions are listed, together with results from recent auctions. The magazine also covers news and articles on the current railway scene.



Harold Ernest William Watts 1904-2002


My love of railways would not have started was it not for my grandfather, Harold Watts. His railway career started at age 14 with the Great Central Railway (GC), which became part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), finally becoming part of British Railways (BR). He retired at age 65 after over 50 years railway service.

At the time that I started school, he was mechanical foreman at Shirebrook Diesel Depot (SB) which had recently opened. I can clearly remember accompanying him there one weekend surrounded by gleaming Green Brush 4s (47s), Sulzers (25s) and Claytons (17s).

Here is a photograph of O4 63601 taken at Barrow Hill on Saturday 4th April, 2009. Harold also covered at Barrow Hill when required to do so.


The second photograph, taken in December 1968, is of Harold Watts and driver Ted Mayes with Brush prototype HS4000 Kestrel at SB. At this time Kestrel was working off SB hauling coal trains between Mansfield Colliery and Whitemoor. I was lucky enough to go in the cab and sit in the second man's seat, I was 7 at the time!


The last photograph is of him whilst enjoying a footplate ride between Loughborough and Leicester North on 6990 Witherslack Hall during the Great Central Centenary Celebrations in May 1999, he was 94 at the time. I also accompanied him during his ride on the footplate on this occasion.

Harold Watts sadly died in June 2002 at Doncaster, aged 97.