Brian was one of the “quieter” Trammies, steady and competent. Not one for silly jokes. I catch up with him in Sumner’s Super Value where he works four days a week mostly packing meat and chicken. A picture of health and energy, Brian is in shorts – his typical winter attire. Going from Trammie to supermarket hand was not an ordeal; being involved in cooking for 40 years and owning a takeaway across the road, helped. Meat and chicken arrives in bulk. Brian’s job is to prepare it for self-service sale. Seems to me it is a skilled job. How the product looks on the chilled shelves impacts greatly on customer appeal. I cannot fault Brian’s handy-work.
His last moments working on the City tramway on February 22, 2011 were dramatic. He was setting off from Cathedral Square stop on the Brill, No. 178 when the initial earthquake hit. He had gone about 20 metres when the tram stopped as the power pole automatically retracted from the overhead power supply.
“Had the tram gone any further we would have had masonry through the roof from the collapsing Regent. As I was hanging on, I was worried about the big dome crashing down. The back of it had blown out. I looked towards Chancery Lane as the Sedwick Jones building collapsed. People will be dead, I thought. Then I heard the Cathedral collapse. Again people would be dead. In either case no-one was killed. That was extraordinary. I couldn’t shut the tram door so I took the steel points bar, rather than leave it for souvenir hunters, and my cash bag with considerable takings. All the passengers had shot through as the shaking continued and I left with Jenny, the new tram host, to walk home, the points bar over my shoulder. A lot of people were injured. They had blood down their faces. Amazingly, they were being treated. Others had, understandably, freaked out.
“The Super Value job is ideal. I live nearby so walk to work. It’s a very busy supermarket.
“With so many supermarkets closed following the earthquake, Chris Milne was pleased to take me on. Knowing a lot of the customers, I do a lot of talking. But I suspect that’s part of good customer service,” he tells me with a grin. To keep his hand in until the City Tramway restarts, Brian has joined the Ferrymead- based Tramway Historical Society.