Leslie Preston Parker
Hardy Steam in the blood states that Hardy had been an apprentice at Stratford Works and had been a Whitworth scholar. Until 1948 he had spent his entire career on the GER or the Eastern section of the LNER. In 1949 he became Motive Power Superintendent of the Eastern Region of British Railways. [Parker] had the widespread and thoroughly justified reputation of being a frightful martinet with a much-feared knack of making his surbordinates feel most uneasy, and often of making unreasonable demands on them. The merger [Southern Area Eastern Region] was therefore made to the considerable apprehension of the staff who were to come under his orders. Hardy (Steam Wld, 1992 (59) 6) discusses the excellent relationship which Thompson maintained with Parker for whom Hardy had to work. Parker advocated the use of fully-open regulator working..
Terry Miller used to tell this story: "Good morning Miller. I have just passed the engine of the 'Hook Continental' in Platform 510. It carries the number 1005 and the remarakable if undignified name of Bongo. Please see that this locomotive is not used on this important train in future." Hardy, Steam World, 2005 (212) 34,
Harvey in Bill Harvey's 60 years in steam pages 67-8 considered himself to be one of Parker's "young men" and asked him what hours he was expected to work when appointed to Brentwood: "I never tell my supervisors what hours they are expected to work but I expect you to be there when you are needed."
Page 74 et seq: Sometimes when relieving at Stratford we would be summoned into the Presence to partake of tea (china) from his famous glass teapot. This was no social occasion, but an opportunity for him to find out what progress we had made in gaining knowledge. His gibe that 'An engineer who cannot use a slide rule, Harvey, is about of as much use as a fitter who cannot use a file' stung me into gaining a mastery of that instrument that I have never forgotten. LPP was a firm believer in the wide open regulator and early cut-off method of driving locomotives. 'The regulator, Harvey, should be regarded merely as a stop valve. The flow of steam to the cylinders is better regulated with the reversing gear which should be used like the gearbox in a car steam should be throttled at the regulator only to avoid excessive speed.' He also believed in smart acceleration from stations. His inspectors were well drilled in these techniques, and no man was passed for driving unless he adopted these methods which were well suited to Great Eastern engines. Later on, with the arrival of Great Central locomotives which worked best on the first port of the regulator and one-and-a-half turns on the reversing screw, this precept had to be qualified if hot big-ends were to be avoided.
Another of Mr Parker's instruction was that when drifting with steam shut off the reversing gear of piston valve locomotives should be placed in mid-gear. Doubtless this instruction originated from the numerous cases of wrecked motion occurring to the long-valve travel N7 tanks, which, if put into full gear when coasting at speed, especially when running bunker-first, would almost certainly break off their valve spindle guide bushes, drag down their valve spindles and generally play havoc with their inside Walschaerts gear. If on his journeys to and from his home at Chigwell LPP heard the snifting valve clattering as the locomotive entered the station its driver was summoned to the inspector's office for an explanation. On one of his visits to me at Wood Street he observed 'The engine of my train was being worked in a most peculiar manner when I should have heard the engine I couldn't and when I should not have done so I did! Ride with that man, Harvey, find out what he is doing wrong, and put him right!'
Parker, L.P. Paper No. 148). The coaling of locomotives. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1923, 13, 609-16. Disc.: 617-50.
Beavor: Steam was my calling.