Ralph Burnell was born in 1928 and lived for the first two years of his life in a back to back terraced housed near to the railway at Stourton. His family moved to the newly built John O’Gaunt’s estate in 1930 and Ralph went to Woodlesford school until he was 14.
In 1942 he started work as an errand boy at Stourton engine shed and served a long apprenticeship as a fireman before becoming a driver in 1963. He often worked on coal trains from Water Haigh colliery and others which dropped off wagons at the brewery where he earned an “allowance” of beer from the cellarman.
After steam finished in the West Riding in 1967 he moved onto driving diesels and was often at the controls of the Diesel Multiple Units which passed through Woodlesford on their way to Knottingley and Goole or Wakefield, Barnsley and Sheffield.