Keeping Steam by Frank Walsh

Keeping Steam by Frank Walsh, ghostwritten by Jocelyn Carpreau Life Story Writer from Elephant Memoirs

When his father went off to war in 1939,  7-year-old Frank Walsh was evacuated to a school for children with TB on the moors above Oldham.  At a safe distance from any bombing ,and boosted by fresh air, simple food and spoonfuls of malt and cod liver oil, Frank survived both the War and contact with the highly infectious  disease.

In 1945, Frank ran away from the school and headed back down to the smoky old town. He was now a fit young man with lungs strong enough for any job. However, neither the cotton mills, the foundries nor the coal mines attracted him. Frank was born in the Golden Age of Steam, and the railway at the end of his street had always fascinated  him.

Here's what Frank said after reading his memoir...

“I didn’t expect you to know how a steam train works, but that was alright because I know you’re the kind of person who goes into things and does research. I enjoyed the book. I liked the colour and photos”. – Frank

Here's how I wrote Frank’s memoir

Most of the interviews for Frank’s book were done over the phone, although Skype would have been quicker. I read the finished chapters aloud in person, however. This allowed his wife to have an input into the story too. Sadly she died before the book was printed.
We spent a long time getting the facts straight. Also, I needed to make sure I understood the technicalities of steam trains. I read a book about a day in the life of an engine driver, and even visited the Museum of Science and Industry. Frank used many terms that I didn’t understand, but which he took completely for granted. As I wanted his grandchildren to understand his train stories properly, I got him to explain everything to me in detail. He was very patient!
I also did research into chapters of Frank’s life that he himself didn’t understand. I researched his upbringing in an Open Air School in Oldham by going to the local history archive. They gave me photos of a place that Frank hadn’t set eyes on in 70 years. When I do these books, I enjoy learning about unfamiliar times and places, which benefits both myself and my clients.

This is what Frank's friends and family said after reading Frank's story

“I like how it’s organised in a chronological way. She’ll be able to re-read it, and it’ll help her remember her life. I like all the old photos of her family. It’s really interesting. You’ve done a good job.” – Ken

“It’s very good.” – Susan

“The photographs really make it.” – Relius


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