By Maurice Burns
ALBERT Hawman, hailed as Britain’s oldest BR steam driver, died in Darlington on July 15 at the age of 104.
Born in 1912 he saw as a 12-year-old boy the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1925, and later became an engine cleaner then fireman at Shildon, Ferryhill, and Darlington where he passed out as a steam and diesel driver.
His last BR steam turn was when he drove K1 2-6-0 No. 62005 up Weardale on the Stephenson Locomotive Society’s ‘Three Dales Railtour’ of May 20, 1967 and in the preservation era was the proud driver of Locomotion when it led the cavalcade on the 150th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1975, witnessed by 300,000 people.
Albert had a remarkable route knowledge in the days of steam when railways were vastly more complex than today. Based at Darlington (51A), he would fire or drive on an amazing number of routes, many of which are now long gone – Stainmore summit to Kirkby Stephen, Tebay or Penrith, Barnard Castle to Middleton in Teesdale, Bishop Auckland to Barnard Castle, Wearhead, Crook and Tow Law and onwards to Newcastle.
Eastwards would take him to Saltburn or Battersby, Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough and the coast route from Stockton via Hartlepool to Newcastle.
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