Saturday, 7 January 2012

50 Years

It occurred to me today that January 1st was the 50th anniversary of my joining the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and that I have been employed by the railway industry almost continuously ever since.

My first job was as a clerk in the CPR's London (England) office. We did international travel ticketing for the railway and managed the accounts of the large number of British shareholders of the company. I joined CPR because of a boyhood interest in railways and in travel. I thought I would get the best of both worlds with CPR and that, eventually, I would get to Canada and maybe be involved with train operations there.

At that time, CPR had a railway across Canada, an airline and a shipping line.  You could go from England by sea to Montreal and then by train across the Rockies to Vancouver. You could also fly, but I seem to remember that there were two stops; at Shannon in Eire and Halifax Nova Scotia for refuelling.

I spent about 18 months with CPR but I began to realise that I wasn't going to get to Canada any time soon. I found out that the office manager, whose name was Chapman, had worked there for almost 20 years and had never been to Canada.  He'd never been further than the Isle of Wight. I also gradually became aware of the interest in me of a male member of staff. I was not yet 18 at the time and it panicked me.  Apart from being illegal at that time (1964), I wasn't of that persuasion anyway. Indeed, I was dating one of the CPR office girls for a while.

The result was that I left, without another job to go to but, within days and without money, I decided that I had to take myself off to the London Transport recruiting office at Edgware Road to get work.

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