Daniel and I are taken for a special walking tour of the SKLR sheds by
Fireman Mike. The main shed is built of parts shipped in from the
transhipment shed that stood in Ridham Dock, There’s plenty of headroom,
even for a tall loco along with a strong industrial feel. Concrete is
oil-stained, pots of grease sit like Eastern satraps among a court of humble
rags, the front end of the shed faces away from the creek and is open to the
elements. Machines and power tools are gathered at the far end including a
mighty 1950’s compressor with octopus rubber limbs snaking off through the
shed. It thrums and chatters busily as it pumps air off to various devices.
The loco engineers are working on an engine called ‘Melior’. The name which
is taken to mean ‘new and improved’ (think ‘ameliorate’) was designed to be
better than its forebears. However, everyone at the SKLR will tell you
otherwise albeit with as sphinx-wise smile on their faces which speaks
buckets of their obvious affections for ‘Melior’. The loco had been stripped and freshly cleaned parts lie stacked waiting for a fresh paint job.
I’m reminded of a Ray Harryhausen-era live-action plus animation version of
Jason and the Argonauts, in particular the scene where they battle the
bronze giant Talos. Talos, built by expert craftsman Hephaestus, gets the
better of Jason and his crew until some bright spark pulls out a plug
attached to Talos’ ankle. At this point he springs a fatal leak. His life’s
blood (Ichor) drains out like oil out of a sump and poor Talos crashes to
the ground defeated. Admittedly, it’s a bit of leap from this to looking at
Melior but there is something of the fallen giant about a disassembled loco.
The temptation is to put it all back together, even if you knew the metal
beast would attack mercilessly once revived.
post by sound artist Jim Whelton