Plandampf

For three days in February the clock is being turned back, sort of, to the end of steam on the S&C, back in the 60s. Northern Rail, the A1 Locomotive Trust, and the Settle Carlisle Railway have joined forces so that we will be able to enjoy the delights of No.60163 Tornado on regular service trains for 3 days in February. Operating between Skipton and Appleby, the first train leaves Appleby at 08:30 returning from Skipton at 10:45. The afternoon service departs Appleby at 15:07 and returns from Skipton at 17:10.

I don’t recall it myself but, I ‘m sure A1s, like their stable mates the A3s, did see the occasional turn hauling the Waverley over the Leeds – Carlisle leg, in the dog days of steam on the service. Quite what the ‘Midland’ men who had worked the service for decades with Scots and Jubilees thought of working on the A3s, or A1s, for that matter, is anyone’s guess.

One can only hope that all goes well with this three day Plandampf and that all concerned benefit from the experience – who knows it might encourage other operators, with scenic routes, to do something similar. On the other hand it might be a cunning, Baldrick style, plan to reintroduce steam by stealth as the nation’s motive power of choice. Restarting the coal mining industry, to supply them, might be a little trickier.

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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On the bridge

The classic ‘spotters view’ from the bridge, or banking side, looking down on the engine, crew, and train. This particular bridge is at Woodthorpe Lane, between Loughborough and Quorn & Woodhouse, on the Great Central Railway, whose Spring gala it will be,  a week on Friday. No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, will be in action along with the Bluebell Railway’s Q class 0-6-0 No.30541, a class of engine I did a few turns on myself, I might even have fired No.30541.

However, replicating this picture is now becoming impossible, as a new housing development is beginning to take shape here. What are the chances that the ‘new’ residents will complain about the steam engines, the smoke, the whistles, and blah, blah, blah. Over the fifty years of preservation many views, once popularised by photographers, have gone. The Mill at Ingrow on the K&WVR, the shot of Grosmont, from the top of the tunnel,  the once tree lined cutting at Beck Hole with its lovely dappled light – and I’m sure many of you can add your own lost views to these. Even in preservation nothing stays the same, as the lines have developed new buildings have been erected, bridges built, cafes, museums, and more have all been added – it’s all come a very long way from those shaky beginnings at Middleton and Bluebell in 1960.

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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Dark satanic

Ex-Taff Vale Railway 0-6-2T, No.85, pulls away from Oakworth, passing Vale Mill, the end of which is casting a shadow over the 2nd and 3rd coaches. Built in 1899, by Neilson Reid of Glasgow, No.85 had  just entered traffic when the infamous Taff Vale Railway strike, of 1900, took place. This dispute, which lasted for 11 days, resulted in a ruling, by the Law Lords, in favour of the railway, making the men and their union liable for loss of profits caused by the strike. The sum claimed by the Taff Vale Railway was £42,000 estimated to be £2.5 million at today’s rates.

This draconian  ruling helped  to strength the resolve, amongst many,  to create the Labour Party which, in turn, helped to  influence the Liberal Government  of 1906 to introduce a Trade Disputes Bill, making peaceful picketing legal and to revoke the Law Lords ruling in the Taff Vale case, thus ensuring Unions and their members were no longer liable for a company’s loss of profits, during a legitimate trade dispute. All in all, the Taff Vale Railway strike created quite a furore. The Taff Vale Railway itself was amongst the country’s earliest lines;  construction commenced in 1836 and Isambard Kindom Brunel, no less, was the chief engineer. Built to the 4’8″ gauge to allow the line to follow the route of the eponymous river Taff, the TVR remained in independent operation until it was absorbed, by the Great Western Railway, in 1922.

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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Get some rock on

When I was a cleaner at Farnley there were a number of turns, and crews who worked them, which, when they came past the shed, would, ‘put on a show’.  Two turns in particular, one a mid-day Newcastle – Liverpool passenger service, the other the returning Manchester – Newcastle newspaper vans, aka ‘the Red Bank vans’, seemed to be particularly prone to this form of footplate fun.

The ‘show’ consisted of the driver  putting the regulator in the roof and easing the reverser out a notch or three, whilst the fireman would put a few well placed rounds on – the results were, usually, a fine display of clag & rockets and a great deal of noise. Many years later, when I was writing for the now defunct Steam Railway News, a fortnightly newspaper, I called my column ‘Clag & Rockets’ in memory of those days, in early 1962, when I enjoyed  watching the fun, as I cleaned one of 55C’s Black 5s or Jubilees, or possibly the little Ivatt 2-6-2MTTs which were allocated to station pilot duties, down at Leeds City Station. It was on this turn, on the Saturday late shift, that I did my very first ‘real’ firing turn as a ‘passed’ cleaner, on one of the Ivatt 2-6-2s. I say ‘real’ firing turn because I had been out, quite a few times, on the footplate, with the regular crew, on the Red Bank vans and watched at close quarters how the ‘show’ was put on.

In the photo, Ex-LNER Class B1 4-6-0, No.61264, is passing Grosmont MPD on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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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Limited clearance

Ex-LNER Class B1 4-6-0, No.61264, is seen here passing Grosmont MPD, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.  Two of No.61264’s classmates, No.61251 Oliver Bury, and No.61292, were used in the  Locomotive Exchange Trials,  2018 is the 70th anniversary. No.61251 Oliver Bury worked over the South Devon main line and the Midland route from St.Pancras  to Manchester. No.61292 did her stint on the Highland main line from Perth to Inverness, where she was up against the Southern’s entry in the trials WC class 4-6-2 No.34004 Yeovil.

Having worked on a B1, Leeds to Grimsby and back, and on No.34004 Yeovil, on more than a few turns over the former LSWR routes out of Waterloo, in her rebuilt form, of course, I know which I would have chosen; even if she did burn more coal! I also have a little bit of personal history with one of the firemen in the Trials, Bert Hooker, who was, by that time, a driver at Nine Elms when I moved there in the 1960s.

I’m sure preparations are already underway to celebrate the Trials, especially as one of the actual participants, Ex-GWR Hall class 4-6-0, No.6990 Witherslack Hall, has just recently returned to active duty.  My own ‘daydream’ celebration would be seeing a B1 and West Country /B-o-B giving it some 2nd valve over the Highland main line – Oh!  and some snow cover on the hills would be nice too!

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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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Done Bunking

Grosmont MPD and Ex-GWR 0-6-2T, No.6619, awaits the fitter’s attention as Ex-LMS  Class 5MT, No.44871, sits by the column, ‘brewing up’, before going off shed. A scene played out a thousand times a day, at sheds around the country, back when the railways were steam powered. Many of you reading this will have witnessed this scene, as you bunked round your local shed, or one further afield, on some shed bash trip. For the fitters and crews it was all just part of the day’s work, but for the ‘spotters’ bunking the shed was just a ‘big adventure’ – a bit naughty with the added frisson of ‘we might get caught’ by the foreman or ‘gaffer’ and chucked out on our ear.

Today, ‘bunking’ the ‘heritage’ railway  shed is considered, in all probability, socially irresponsible behaviour and it is often the very enthusiasts, who climbed through windows, or crossed the tracks, to enter some ‘steam age’ MPD or other, who now condemn such antics. This equally applies to track side trespass where, in the final days of steam, it was rife, way beyond anything seen with ‘Flying Scotsman, earlier this year. The real difference between then and now, in this regard, is that then there was little by way of ‘outside’ broadcast, no rolling 24 hour news agenda, no internet, no Facebook or Twitter to spread the pictures and gossip. Funny what 50 years and a revolution in social and mainstream media has done to folk and their attitudes.

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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 end was neigh

Fifty years ago, in 1967, I was hard at work on machines like this one, as a fireman, at 56A Wakefield (Belle Vue).  We all knew what was coming but were powerless to prevent it – the steam powered railway was doomed, the game was up. We were going to have a clean bright future – reality, however, turned out rather differently. For a great many of us at 56A our future as railwaymen looked anything but bright. The growing dieselisation was not only bringing job losses it was also destroying the ‘link’ system – so much a part of footplate life.

The growth of single-manning led to the creation of ‘the fireman’s link’. No longer did you have a regular mate, now you were part of one huge link comprised solely of firemen – you could end up working a different turn every day, with a different driver, and having started on days – end up on nights. Fun, it wasn’t, and men started to drift away, finding new jobs. It wasn’t just the steam that was going the work was too. More and more goods and coal traffic was moving on to the roads, resulting in caped turns, and train loads dwindling from 40 or more wagons to a mere handful.

Now we make normally ‘clean bright engines’ dirty, like No.90711, aka(90733), in this photo, which shows her leaving Keighley, just as the early morning mist beings to lift, with a goods working to Oxenhope.

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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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Farewell 4566

These handsome little tank engines first saw the light of day in 1906, though No.4566 was one of a batch of 20 built in 1924. They are known in some circles as ‘small prairies’ and the first twenty to be built, were amongst the last locomotives to be built at Wolverhampton Stafford Road Works. In one of those little quirks which life throws up, a trip to Wolverhampton Stafford Road  was the first outing I went on with the school railway club – it was my one and only visit to Stafford Road.

Designed, originally, by GJ Churchward as a small mixed traffic loco, mainly for branch line work, they saw service all over the GWR. The 45xxs must have been fairly successful as later CB Collett designed the  4575 Class,  a modification of the 45xx class, these engines had larger side tanks for greater water capacity and a number of them were fitted with push-pull apparatus for working auto trains, predominantly in South Wales.

Sadly, No.4566 is now out of ticket and there are, at this time of writing, no immediate plans for her overhaul. Hopefully this situation will change in the not too distant future. On the plus side the new build, BR Standard class 3MTT 2-6-2, No.82045, will be the perfect replacement, once completed.

No.4566 is pictured here, departing from Berwyn station with an early morning ‘mixed’, (goods & passenger) train, during a visit to the Llangollen Railway for their 2016 Spring Gala.

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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 mince pie

The last mince pie has been scoffed, the New Year’s resolutions have been made, and broken, Jack Frost’s icy fingers still have us in their grip as RSH 0-4-0ST, Sir Cecil A Cochrane, draws out the empty stock, from Marley Hill sidings, ready for the 10.30 departure from Andrews House, on the Tanfield Railway.

Sir Cecil rolled out of Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns works, as works No. 7409, in July 1948 and spent her entire working life, including in preservation, in the Tyneside district. Bought, new, by the Newcastle & Gateshead Gas Co. and put into service at their Redheugh Gas Works, where, in 1949 she became the property of the Northern Gas Board.  Purchased for preservation, in 1971, by the Stephenson & Hawthorns Locomotive Trust. she spent several years in store at Backworth colliery before being moved to Tanfield, in 1975, where she has remained ever since.

Sir Cecil isn’t the only gas works engine at Tanfield; she shares a shed with No.2, a 1911 vintage Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST, which came from Keighley Corporation Gas Works – both of them, of course, from the days before North Sea gas, when gas was made from coal and stored in huge gasometers.

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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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When the party’s over

This year it is fifty years since beasts like this one, Ex-SR B-o-B Class 4-6-2 No.34053 Sir Keith Park, hurtled along the main lines of the old London & South Western Railway routes from London to points west; I had some memorable moments with them on those routes.  Up round Woodfidley, in the New Forest, in the early hours of an Autumn morning, watching the deer ‘floating’ through the sea of ground mist,  being alongside big ships, with boat trains from Ocean Liner Terminal, special stop orders for Idmiston Halt – a boffin going to  Porton Down, a rail tour special to Exeter and back.

You remember too  the card games and the banter, the drivers and firemen you worked with, many of them, sadly, no longer with us; gone to that great engine shed in the sky,  where they’re all top link and every turn is a mileage job. The swapping turns, working rest days,  down the Brook for a pint before closing – always a lock-in, gone, like the coal tower, pit road, and tallow lamp, snuffed out by the future.

You can preserve the engines, run them up and down the tracks, but for the crews who worked them in everyday service, ‘running the railway’, fifty years ago, in July 1967, the party was over.

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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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