John Fletcher began his railway career at the age of 15 at Lostock Hall loco shed near Preston in 1962. He soon progressed to became a fireman, working around the shed and on the footplate in the twilight years of steam in the North of England. Following involvement in the last BR steam runs in August 1968, he decided that the new railway was not for him, so left to pursue a different career, before returning to the railway until 1974. However, it wasn't long before his skills were in demand on heritage railways, and he found himself once more on the footplate, firing on preserved locos on the West Somerset Railway and in particular the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, eventually making his home in Grosmont. From there he progressed to firing on main-line-registered steam locomotives on the national network, taking him all over the country, from Plymouth to Inverness, and Norwich to Newport. John is a natural story-teller, and his fascinating and lively 'tales of the rails' not only explain the techniques of firing steam locomotives of many different classes, but vividly convey the hard work, the challenges and the sheer exhilaration of being 'on the shovel' when man and machine are working together out on the line. These lively and varied tales include a stint on Hogwarts Castle on Glenfinnan Viaduct for one of the 'Harry Potter' films, and journeys aboard a wide variety of engines from the 'Big Four' and beyond, including among many others the LMS's No 6233 Duchess of Sutherland, LNER 'A4' Sir Nigel Gresley, SR No 34067 Tangmere, GWR No 6024 King Edward I and the unique BR 'Pacific' No 71000 Duke of Gloucester.