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Edward in tune for new career

PUBLISHED: 16:27 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 July 2010

MAKING MUSIC: Edward Barnes, at 80, has found a new career composing incidental music for films and television programmes.

MAKING MUSIC: Edward Barnes, at 80, has found a new career composing incidental music for films and television programmes.

AT the age of 80, most people would be settling down to retirement and taking it easy - but not one Great Yarmouth man who has found a new career.

Edward Barnes sits at the piano in his sitting room and composes incidental music for films and TV programmes, a former hobby which has now turned into a new job.

AT the age of 80, most people would be settling down to retirement and taking it easy - but not one Great Yarmouth man who has found a new career.

Edward Barnes sits at the piano in his sitting room and composes incidental music for films and TV programmes, a former hobby which has now turned into a new job. And he has recently signed a contract with a company which specialises in such music.

Edward Barnes was a familiar face at his Hoover service shop in Northgate Street until a year ago but he's not been taking an easy retirement.

Apart from his musical compositions he has also finished an autobiography, parts of which tell of his life riding on the footplate as fireman on steam engines in the area.

Yarmouth born and bred Edward was a familiar face at his Hoover service shop in Northgate Street until a year ago.

He said: “I always had a fascination for trains and when I was 15 I was invited to climb aboard the steam engines in service at the time. I started work with the old M &GN Railway at what was Beach Station as a cleaner with a mixture of oil and paraffin in a bucket to clean the engines for only one day a week.

“I would then have to go on a labouring job for money and shovel ashes from the engine's pit to the ground and then to a wagon which was six foot high. After three months, I found myself on the footplate as a fireman. I had to take an examination for the job at Norwich which was both theory and practical. The practical was exam was on a very large engine, an express to Yarmouth.”

He remained in the fireman's job until he was 18 and recalls many hazardous journeys.

“During the war years torpedoes and bombs would be transported from Birmingham to Yarmouth and then on to Lowestoft. In my mid-teens I was part of the team transporting these explosives, and they were on wagons just yards from where we were driving the train.

“One time, we were supposed to stop at Lowestoft but found we had a brake failure. The driver said 'abandon ship' so I stood to one side of the steps holding the adjacent rail ready to jump, but looking across the footplate I could see the driver's head. If he jumped I would, but the train did start to slow down slightly and he went back on the footplate.

“The train eventually stopped just one engine's length passed Lowestoft station. I can honestly say the adrenalin pumped!”

Edward joined the RAF in 1945 and later worked in a number of jobs including photographer and lorry driver. But his passion was, and still is the railways and says the closure of the local lines were not thought through by those making the decisions at the time.

Line closures in the Yarmouth area started in 1957 and the whole region was affected by what became known as the Beeching axe of the early 1960s.

Now a widower Edward, who has three sons, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren, is hoping to get his autobiography published - but he will continue to compose, and play, more music.

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