“On the waggon”

On one platform sits a woman with a young child on her lap, on the other a camera man with his tripod, set to record the scene. This picture of seeming rural tranquillity, is from Sunday’s “On the waggon” event at the Tanfield Railway. When I see or hear the phrase  ‘on the wagon’ – I don’t picture a drinker going teetotal, but what does pop up is a line from John Cooper Clarke’s poem, about the back streets of his native Salford,  “Beezley Street” – ‘ the boys are on the wagon, the girls are on the shelf, their common problem is, that they’re not someone else’. The verse continues; ‘the dirt blows out the dust blows back, you can’t keep it neat, a fully furnished dustbin, 16 Beezly Street.

It’s like the opening credits from early versions of Coronation Street, a thousand smoking chimneys – ‘keeping the home fires burning’ – and keep them burning coal. Yes we love a coal fire, but all the attendant mess?  I spent the last 18 months of my railway life at 56A Wakefield and coal was the depot’s bread and butter.  Colliery yards, the daily routine, empties in full ‘uns’ out. Everywhere, everything, everybody, covered in grime and yes Grimethorpe colliery was on the roster, Sharlston, Denaby and Manvers too.

The locomotive in the photo No.3 Twizell, spent her working life hauling wagons at the pit – now like some old pony put out to grass she hauls passengers and gleams like a new pin.

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

or: To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, you could grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

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A little light and a lot of clag

Much is written about making clag, both serious stuff and the banter, some of it is written by former footplatemen and some by armchair critics. The engine making all the noise, and smoke, is Ex-LMS class 5 4-6-0, No.44767, now named George Stephenson, and fitted with outside Stephenson’s link motion. Not so much as making smoke but, bringing her own atmosphere, as she blasts under Darnholme bridge with a Grosmont – Pickering service.

During 7 years of footplate work I fired on 20+ different locomotive types from LMS Jinties to Bulleid’s Merchant Navy class, even had a go on a B1. I worked with hard coal, soft coal, and coal eggs and had jobs where you were walking into the tender to get to the coal. I worked every kind of service from the Royal Wessex to station pilot, engineers trains and ‘Spotters Specials’,  coal trains over the Pennines and fish trains from Hull docks, so it would, I think, be fair to say I have some experience in the clag making business.

In the books they tell you to fire light and bright, firing to a pattern with fist size lumps of coal – and sometimes you had to do just that. However, like any workman, on any job, you look for ways to make your days work easier. If it was easier to ‘box’ her up and sit down for a few miles, have a swig of tea and a fag, well that was what you did – the colour of the exhaust was of little consideration.

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

or: To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, you could grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

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Selside Tornado

Saint Valentine’s day, and the steam, rail car replacement service, on the S&C, makes its debut. Like a great many others I went to see the first of the North bound runs, on which the engine is chimney first.

What a difference a hundred yards make – looming out of the mist A1 class 4-6-2 No.60163 Tornado with the morning run, of the Northern Rail / A1 Steam Locomotive Trust Plandampf, between Skipton and Appleby. The saving grace, if there is one, is it tones down the livery on the Northern Rail stock and I’ve managed not to get the Box on the other end.

In between the approach shot and this passing shot is another day, seemingly. Possibly another century, as it could be 1950 with that early livery and the Carmine and Cream stock /No.60163 Tornado’s support coach – in my dreams!!

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

or: To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, you could grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

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Into a brisk nor’ easter

How many times, over the years, have a pair of Black 5s set out to do battle over the Highland line to Inverness. This pair, pilot engine No.45231, now named Sherwood Forester, and No.45407, are on the last stretch of the climb from Stirling to Gleneagles, approaching Blackford. Sometimes known as Dunblane bank it is but a little bump,  a foretaste, of what is to come, Druimuachdar and Slochd lie in wait.

The timings of the GB Rail Tours, this is GB II, allow you to photograph them in a variety of locations all the way to the top of Slochd, and many do just this. On one memorable occasion I watched a chap videoing stood on the seat, in a Range Rover with  the sun roof open, as they  paced  the train – this was on the A9, no less.

And here they are, Nos. 45213 & 45407, with the same GB II tour, on top of Druimauchdar, near Dalnaspidle, in the background, the last vestiges of the winter snow cling to the side of the surrounding hills.

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

or: To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, you could grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

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An Englishman, a Scotsman, and a Welshmen went to ……..

This coming weekend is the annual grudge match between England and Wales in the Six Nations rugby tournament.  And, here we have an engine built for one of the most famous, or possibly infamous, railways in Wales, the Taff Vale. In this photo, however, she is deep in Rugby League territory steaming up the Worth Valley in England,  not the Taff in Wales, hauling passengers and not coal.

The Taff Vale was, in 1922, absorbed by the Great Western and, TVR No. 85, became GWR No.426, but, she didn’t fit in with the GWR’s policy of standardisation and became, ‘surplus to requirement’. After 2 years in store, No.85/426 was sold, in 1929, to the Lambton Hetton & Joicey Colliery Railway and put into service at Philadelphia Colliery in the heart of the Durham coalfields.

Eighteen years later No.85 was still hauling coal when the mines were Nationalised and,  in 1947, she became NCB No.52 continuing in service until withdrawn, in 1968, after 69 years and 4 different owners. The ‘Scotsman’ is Neilson Reid Co. of Glasgow, which is where No.85 was built,  in 1899.

For anyone wanting to know what made the Taff Vale ‘infamous’ here’s a link to some of the details.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taff_Vale_Rly_Co_v_Amalgamated_Society_of_Rly_Servants

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

or: To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, you could grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https

    ://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY
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Bobgins mixed

The title isn’t some new fangled alcopop, it’s reference to the level crossing the train has just crossed, ‘Bobgins’, you can make out the crossing keeper’s box, slightly, to the left of the train. And the fact that it is a mixed goods and passenger service, the late running 13.49 East Tanfield – Sunniside.

No.3 Twizell was well into her stride and making a lovely noise as she accelerated away from Bobgins and a pale and watery sun was struggling to break through the clouds – it nearly made it, as you can see. I must say, at a time of year when many smaller railways are closed, that I admire Tanfield’s effort, in not only running services, but putting on events – well attended too, from what I saw.

This coming weekend sees both passenger and coal trains in operation, I’ll be paying a visit if the sun shines, maybe even if it doesn’t.

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

or: To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, you could grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

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Marley Hill

Just a few minutes before this photo it was a very different scene as the Marley Hill MPD engine cleaners put the finishing touches to No.2 before she set off to work the 10.30 departure from Andrews House

The really pleasing aspect of this picture is that, just as it was, ‘back in the day’, it’s young lads cleaning the engine, working their way to becoming passed cleaners / firemen and eventually drivers. If railway preservation has a future it’s lads like these  getting stuck in and doing the dirty work, on a freezing cold Sunday morning, at the fag end of January. Those of us who were doing the job, ‘back then’ are getting far to ancient and decrepit to be doing the heavy dirty work required to maintain and operate a steam locomotive.

To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

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eBook offer

To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

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Ebook special offer

To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

 

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