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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The Great Christmas Race.

It was another gloriously sunny winter day in the Great Western Railway (more commonly referred to as God's Wonderful Railway) town of Risca. The town was set in the Western Valley, which runs from the coast to the Heads of the Valleys road in South Wales. RJ, (Robert Jefferies) and JRJ (Jeffrey Richard Jefferies, more commonly known as JR), opened the door to the former church hall - now the GWR social club in Risca. This building was the centre of all the Christmas activity for the town, and even more importantly, housed the town's rail racing club.

Rail racing was huge in this small but very passionate town with its deep religious roots, set not very far from the old capital of Great Britain: Newport, when Britain was ruled from the West coast and not the East.

Now, most of the male population of the town worked for the GWR, repairing the track and at the steam loco repair yard in the centre of town. This was a GWR town through and though, and there were great clouds of steam which could be seen leaving the loco yard most days when boilers were being tested and the sound of steel hammers on steel could be heard echoing around the valley. These were hard men with muscles built up over years of hard physical work, so they played the only real game with a ball - the one were the ball is not round.

In 1955 when rail racing was introduced to Wales, the men in the town took to it like a duck takes to water - overnight it became the second most popular indoor pursuit ( I did say this was a very passionate town, so say no more). Nearly all the men who worked on the railway joined the club called The Western Valley Rail Racing Club or the VRRC for short. Nobody knew why the W was dropped.

Christmas in this town was celebrated with the most important rail race of the year, and this year a huge prize was put up by Empire Airlines - one of those new airlines which were starting to spring up all over the place as more people wanted to fly on an aeroplane. Empire had put up a prize of £500… a unheard of amount of money for a rail race!

After a wonderful day at GWR driving the "Red Dragon" (one of the companies latest and fastest 2-8-4 class expresses) RJ with son JR headed straight for the social club where all the members had gathered to talk about the incredible prize that Empire had offered for the Christmas race. JR said "You know, this is really going to put us on the map: we're going to have racers coming in on them damn planes from all over the world when word get out about that prize!"

"Can't do any harm." said TX, one of the biggest and strongest rail layers the company had. He was a giant of a man, 6' 6" tall and well over 18 stone of solid muscle, if not the brightest spark in the box (not that anyone would tell him so, or not to his face anyway).

"Well, word will soon get out," said RJ. "Before you know it we'll have racers like that Sheldon Russell entering the race. You know, the one that spends more than I earn in a year at GWR to build a rail car." "Can the town stand this kind of exposure?" piped up JR, "You know how funny some of them get when the English come here for the Rugby."

With the Christmas race only two week away, entries started to arrive from all over the place. Even the most famous rail racer on the planet, Fergy, was rumoured to be entering. "Could it be true that this giant of the rail racing world would bother coming all the way to Wales, from his home in the wilds of Canada?" asked JP. "For that sort of money, they would come from the moon!" said Beejay, one of the English who had come to Risca in search of the "Black Gold" when the coal mining boom was in full swing. He was likeable in an English sort of way and had married a local girl, which now after 20 years in God's country was more Welsh than English - and most importantly, he could build a very mean rail car.

The date was set for the big event on the 24th of December, so as not to clash with the Christmas Day cycle road race, in which RJ had won many medals. A telegram arrived at the social club from Canada, this generated a huge amount of excitement, "Could it really be true that the great man was really coming?" asked TX. "Hurry up and open it!" said an excited JR. Silence fell across the room like the dusk falls on the African plain. RJ ripped open the telegram - the tension in the room was electric. "YES" shouted RJ and the room exploded. The most famous rail racer in the world was on his way to Wales.

The days quickly past as RJ and JR manned the 'Red Dragon'. This train was more like a living animal, with its great fiery breath exploding out in clouds of steam. JR poured great shovel loads of coal into its mouth, which was then burned by its mighty furnace heating the steam in its boiler until it creaked and groaned like a living animal, the power pulsing though the huge frame. Standing by the side of the giant train it appeared like some huge medieval monster, breathing fire.

Every day after leaving their beloved train RJ and JR would head down to the social club to the rail racing track, where new rail cars were appearing - somewhat faster than usual! Another telegram arrived confirming that the fabulously rich Sheldon Russell was on his way to Wales and this generated even more excitement. The tension in the rail club was at boiling point. "Rules, rules, what are the rules?" asked Malcolm Inters. RJ explained "There are no rules - if it works on the track and fits between the lanes you can use it." This was received with a huge roar of approval by the gathered club members. "Where are they going to stay?" asked TX "Good point…" said Beejay after one too many glasses of pop. "This is Wales-" replied RJ, "-the most friendly country in the world-" piped up JR, "-they will stay in our houses with us." finished RJ.

Now, down the valley from Risca was a little village called Cumbac and in this village was a hostel for the soldiers which had been injured in the fighting the second of the great wars. The hostel was always short of money, even though the local people tried to help as often as they could.

On the 23rd of December, the great Fergy arrived at the train station in Risca after being collected by the Red Dragon from the coast. The town went crazy. With him came a case full of the most beautiful wooden bodied rail cars, carved from the legs of old church chairs as all the truly great rail cars are. A handsome man in his late 40's he had a ready smile and easy wit, and when he told the assembled crowd that his grandfather had come from this very village 50 years ago, the crowd went wild with joy. There was no doubt who the favourite to win the money was.

The day of the big event arrived, and the excitement was at fever pitch. Sheldon Russell arrived just in time, having flown in one of Empire's own planes to get to the event. He then proceeded to produce the most beautiful brass bodied rail car which must have taken a huge number of hours to build, with every rivet in the correct place.

The rail track had never looked better with everyone helping to polish the rails until they glowed like light itself. RJ started the competition with the first race having Fergy, RJ, TX and JP racing. Fergy's BRM glowed with an almost supernatural light so highly varnished was the finish on this car. The first two cars went though to the next round.

As the race started RJ's Auto Union leaped in a surprising lead, being driven as if his very life depended on the outcome of the race. Never had such passionate racing been seen at the rail club; the cars tore around the track in a trail of bright sparks, with each car only being inches behind the car in front. At times it almost seemed the cars had to be joined, so close was the racing. With one lap to go it was RJ, followed by JP, with the crowd stunned into hushed silence as the great Fergy was only in third place. Would he be out in the first heat? As the cars hurtled towards the finish line Fergy just managed to pass JP by an inch for second place. The crowd went wild as by now they had really taken to this charming man, and their hero was still in the competition. The day went by in a series of amazingly close races as most rail races are, with often the winner only being inches in front.

The crowd were exhausted from the sheer emotion of the racing by the time the final was reached. In the semi finals the red lane started to play up, as is not uncommon with rail tracks. The final four drivers lined up after the most wonderful day's racing, with Fergy in the Red lane, RJ on Blue , Beejay on Yellow and JR on Green. As the lights turned green RJ's Auto Union shot off the line in huge shower of sparks - was this to be repeat of the first round? Was the great Fergy's lane playing up? Within an instant the by now glowing BRM, appearing to be almost made of sheer light, shot past RJ car into a lead it never lost. The crowd went ballistic.

Fergy was carried out shoulder high. Fergy gave the winning money to hostel for sick soldiers. That would have seemed to be the end of it, except the next day when testing the rail track it was found that there was no power to the Red lane, and there couldn't have been any for the final… and stranger still, the following day arrived a delayed telegram from Canada stating that Fergy could not make the event after all. Well, it was Christmas!

Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Now in all these stories the truth is in their somewhere.

I was born in Risca and my Great Grandfather was a GWR station master and my Grandfather and his five brothers all worked for GWR and two of my Grandfather's brothers moved to Canada to work on the Canadian railways. So Fergy you never Know.


· Registered
4,591 Posts
'Not the brightest spark in the box'..... Can somebody explain to me what that means?
The rest is right, so I guess it's something nice.

Nice one, my fellow scribe!
Happy Christmas all round. Let's hope things start to look up in West Hamley before the big day.

Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Now tx, you encouraged me to write this story so it all your own fault.

What it means in Wales is that,

while all the others have burned out, because you where not the brightest spark in the box you have kept your cool.

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