Out of the woods – almost

Saturday before last, and No.44806, with the heavily loaded Pullman dinning service, the 12:30 departure from Grosmont, slogs her way up the very testing climb to Goathland. No.44806 is in the final year of her boiler certificate and currently appears to need some attention to the valve spindle packings. However, she doesn’t appear to be short of steam and is flying a nice little feather from the safety valves.

Fortunately there are replacements, for No.44806, in the pipeline as returning to steam, at the NYMR, in the not too distant future, are Ex-Southern Railway Schools class 4-4-0 No.30926 Repton and West Country class 4-6-2 No.34101 Hartland. When I arrived at 70A Nine Elms, in early 1963, the Schools were laid up but, No.34101 Hartland was still in regular service and I enjoyed numerous trips, as her fireman, on services to Basingstoke, Southampton, and Bournemouth.

If No.44806 had been No.44896 I would have worked on her too, as No.44896 was one of seven Black5s  allocated to 55C Farnley Jct., when I began work there as a cleaner, back in the 60s. Farnley’s allocation of Black 5s and Jubilees  included the ill-fated, No.45695 Minotaur, wrecked in a crash near Stockport and never repaired. The Black 5s and the Jubes were about the only engines we did keep clean with the exception of the handful of Ivatt 2-6-2 tanks used on station pilot duties at Leeds City station. The rest, including a string of Dub Dees, got the cabside numbers cleaned when they became too dirty to read!!

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

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A moment of change

It’s all just about to happen, the bobby leans from his box to collect the token from the crew on No.43924, the guard and No.75078’s fireman look on.  When many of you reading this took up an interest in railways, this scene was played out, countless times a day, on single lines, both main and branch ones, across the country.  However, it was all about to change, before our very eyes, steam, semaphore and the bobby in his box disappeared.

The last steam sheds, works, and, as time went on, the great scrapyards of Barry, became places of pilgrimage; railway enthusiasts from far and wide came to pay their last respects and photograph it all one last time. In 1955 when the plan was hatched I was a train spotter, in 1968, when the steam and most of the semaphore was either going or gone, I too was surplus to requirements – redundant, after seven years as a British Railways fireman.

For more than 150 years steam locomotives had hauled ‘coals to Newcastle’ and taken us  from home to the seaside – in a little over a decade they’d gone. It might be said, that with the last steam locomotive being built in 1960 and their cessation in 1968, that they went in less than a decade. We were going to have modernity whether we liked or wanted it.

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

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Trumpton Chigley & Llaniog Railway

‘Under bridges over bridges to our destination’ – all well and good if you know your destination, Treddle’s Wharf in the case of Chigley. Today, of course, some anodyne female voice, on your satnav, announces, ‘you have reached your destination’, you hope it’s not your final one.

In the world of children’s railway stories engines, coaches, and trucks all talk, squealing when they go too fast. In the 1950s Sammy the Shunter, which was published by Ian Allan, was rival to Thomas the Tank Engine; in the 1960s it was Ivor the Engine, animated for TV by the late Oliver Postgate, of Postman Pat fame. Oddly, we don’t have  Harry the Dustbin lorry events, nor talking animated drain cleaners either. Generally speaking,  mucky jobs just don’t translate to kids stories – no one wanted to be a fat refiner or sewer cleaner when they grew up. Engine driving was different, but why?

Becoming an engine driver could, and for a great many, did take years, decades even, as cleaner, passed cleaner, and fireman. Think about that, 20 or more years, cleaning fires, emptying ash pans, and smokeboxes or shovelling tons of coal. The inevitable nasty burns and ash, grit, or coal dust in your eyes; getting up at all hours to spend your day shunting, or running tender first down some freight only line when it’s blowing a gale and lashing down – aaaah, the romance of the footplate.

Under the bridge, Andrews House Station and Ex-Keighley Gasworks 0-4-0ST No.2, its destination is Sunniside – the side of life you always look on!!

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

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Not the Easter Rabbit

A B1 and a train of maroon MK1s deep in the heart of North Eastern Railway territory –  in1950s Britain a sight  so common nobody paid any attention, until, that is, one day it all disappeared. Now, lovingly re-created, in all its glorious technicolour, droves of day-trippers take selfies, posing with the engine, at the station. When not doing selfies they talk of long dead ancestors who once worked upon the railway, or Granddad, who  ‘drove the Flying Scotsman’.  Granddad always drove the ‘Flying Scotsman’, even if he worked at Aberdare or Hither Green.

The scene is ‘Heartbeat’ country, in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, about half a mile from the mythic Aidensfield, or Goathland as the locals call it and it’s Easter Saturday, the first big public holiday of the year. I know, Easter and bunnies are a bit of a joke but, as I walked up to take this shot I startled a rabbit, which then hared, (groan), across the field into the one the other side of the dry stone wall. Later in the day I spotted Black 5 No.44806, running tender first, carrying a yellow painted head board bearing the legend ‘Easter Eggs press’, (bigger groan).

Well I’ve rabbited on long enough about eggs, bunnies and Easter so – all that remains is to say, ‘have an eggstremely good holiday’!

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

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The Steam Elephant

The words ‘weird and wonderful contraption’ were invented to describe this early 19th century masterpiece. The original was built in 1815 to work on the Wallsend Waggonway. The one in the photograph is a replica,  which was constructed from details derived mainly from paintings, and the strange barrel at the base of the chimney is, in fact, a feed water heater. Despite some early problems, due, in the main, to the nature of the wooden waggonway she first worked on, the locomotive remained active at Wallsend into the 1820s and reports suggest that, after some modifications, she saw a further decade, or so, of service at Hetton Colliery.

The Steam Elephant was the work of colliery manager John Buddle and his associate William Chapman, a civil engineer with an interest in mechanical engineering too, who worked on a number of other locomotive projects in the early decades of the 19th century including a chain driven locomotive, for Heaton colliery, which was built at Butterley in Derbyshire. The Durham and Northumberland coalfields were a hot bed of locomotive experimentation during the period between 1810 and 1830 with Stephenson and his associate Ralph Dodds, at Killingworth, William Hedley at Wylam. and mention must also be made of Murray & Blenkinsop, in Leeds, who supplied locomotives to Brandlings Colliery railway in Leeds and to the Kenton & Coxlodge colliery on Tyneside. Brandling himself was one of the ‘Grand Allies’ and had coal and railway interests in the North East as well as those in Leeds. The remains of Brandling’s colliery railway in Leeds form part of what is now the Middleton Railway.

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

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Bon-Accord

Bon-Accord and Distemper, does anyone use ‘distemper’ today, do people even know what it is? The scene is Beamish open air museum’s Rowley Station, the signal box is just visible behind the foot bridge. Bon-Accord has been  a guest at Beamish for several weeks and is one of the attractions in the Great Northern Steam Festival, which came to a close on Sunday.  Built in Scotland, by Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock, she spent her entire working life there before making a trip to Locomotion at Shildon, in 2016.

Bon-Accord began her railway career, in 1897, at Aberdeen Corporation Gas Works, where she remained, until 1964, before being  replaced by  a diesel; the gas works themselves were closed and demolished in 1975. Under her skirts she’s an 0-4-0 with 3’2″ wheels and 12″ x 20″ pistons. The skirts were fitted because Bon-Accord’s day job was hauling coal, through the streets of Aberdeen, from the docks to the  Gas Works. Saved for preservation in 1972 she was, initially, stored at Ferryhill along with Mr. Therm and No.3, before being moved to Brechin. I believe No.3 went to Alford and Mr.Therm became a static display in Aberdeen’s Seaton Park..

Bon-Accord returned from Brechin to Aberdeen, in 1999, for restoration work to be undertaken by the  Bon-Accord Locomotive Society, she was returned to steam in 2008 and in 2010  moved to the Royal Deeside Railway’s base at Milton of Crathes.

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

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Roots

And so it begins. In 1813, this was the white heat of the technological revolution, William Hedley’s ‘Puffing Billy’. This spindly ‘contraption’, which went on to become the modern steam locomotive we all know and love, in the words of one author, Wolfgang Schivelbusch, ‘industrialised time and space.’ It wasn’t just the speed of transportation which increased, the pace of change in peoples lives and livelihoods accelerated  too.

The original Puffing Billy, the one above is a modern replica, was the work of William Hedley, assisted by Jonathan Forster and Timothy Hackworth, whose own engine, ‘Sans Pareil’, was a serious contender to Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’, in the Rainhill Trials of 1829. Hackworth’s ‘Royal George’, an 0-6-0 built for the Stockton & Darlington Railway, was, in some quarters, credited with saving steam haulage on the S&D. Hackworth had quite a career in locomotive building and design and is credited with the invention of the blastpipe. He built and exported a steam locomotive to Russia, in 1836 and was, from 1825 to 1840, the  Locomotive Superintendent to the S&D.

Hedley’s ‘Puffing Billy’ remained in service until 1862 when she was ‘loaned’ and then sold to the Patent Office Museum, which, eventually, became the Science Museum, in London. Puffing Billy  had a sister engine, ‘Wylam Dilly’, which was also preserved and now resides in the  National Museum of Scotland.

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

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Techno Victoriana

In Victoria’s Britain the Taff Vale Railway was a fair to middling commercial operation with 23 branch lines in the Valleys of South Wales; its main line was the 24 miles from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil. It had workshops and headquarters in Butetown, the heart of Cardiff’s dockland, and the coal and iron export business. Incorporated in 1836, the line between  Navigation House and Abercynon opened in 1840 and Merthyr Tydfil was reached the following year. Cardiff Queen Street Station, also opened in 1840, was substantially rebuilt in 1887 and is still Cardiff’s principal station.

The lines of the Taff Vale Railway in the South Wales valleys are a veritable who’s who of railway names and locations. The TVR was engineered by Brunel, and served the Iron works at Cyfarthfa and Pen-y-Darren, with their connections to Trevithick. And, in 1873, it made Tom Hurry Riches the youngest CME in Britain; he remained in post until his death in 1911; his son, Charles Hurry Riches, became the CME on the Rhymney Railway. Tom Hurry Riches is credited with introducing the 0-6-2Ts to the Taff Vale Railway and the 02 class, No85, pictured above, at work on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, was one of the nine built, in 1899, by Neilson Reid of Glasgow, to one of Hurry Riches designs.

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

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The last departure

In a hazy evening sunlight, Black 5 No 45407, with the 17.10 Whitby – Pickering service, plods away from Goathland. Everyone knows that this is a modern day photograph, not because the engine is clean and shiny but, because that air of fading neglect is no longer there. In the Britain of the 50s and 60s the worn out, tired and dilapidated, extended beyond the engine, the stations were dirty, unstaffed and unpainted, signal boxes, goods yards and sidings closed, the buildings in them showing signs of vandalism; this was the railway landscape in those first decades after WWII. No heritage railway, in its right mind, would dream of recreating this aspect of 1950s  / 60s BR.

It’s true that recreations go so far as to deliberately ‘weather’ locomotives’, however, they don’t cut the water supply to the station toilets, smash and board up several windows in the waiting room, and strip the paint from the rest.  Just for good measure they could remove all the glazing from the platform canopy and  pull the hoses off the water columns, for that ‘authentic 1960s’ appearance. Behind the scenes things were worse not better, cuts to shed staff left many shed yards and ash pits a risk to life and limb, and nothing was spent on building maintenance, even finding basic equipment became a task. Of course no one wants to bring this aspect of post-war Britain back, why would they?

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

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Scots 0 Black Fives 2

It seems the Black 5s, especially those operated by Ian Riley, are becoming the rescue remedy of choice – reliable, ubiquitous, and durable. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is the latest line to press a Black 5 into service, with the failure of No.46100 Royal Scot, on Wednesday evening. Thursdays duties for the Scot are now being covered by not one, but two Black 5s, Nos. 45407 and 45212, which is pictured above, with the NYMR’s Pullman Dining service, the 13:20 from Grosmont, rounding the curve at Beckhole.

No.45212 is the latest Black 5 to emerge from Ian Riley’s workshops,in Bury, and join the ‘main line fleet’. On the NYMR web site No.45212 is described as ‘providing support services for No.46100 Royal Scot’ and on No.46100’s first run, on Saturday 25th, she did act as banker. However, it is doubtful that a banker was actually needed, as subsequent runs appeared to be undertaken without one.

The NYMR describe Royal Scot’s problem as ‘minor’ and expect her to be repaired by Friday, which is handy as I was planning on going to photograph her again, on Saturday, if weather conditions are right.

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

 

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