Not a Slough of despond

Slough Estate No.3 heads along the Balm Road branch, towards Moor Road, during the Middleton Railway’s Steam Gala, on Sunday last. The Slough, (industrial), Estate grew out of a first world war plan to repair and refurbish trucks before returning them to active duty in France. However, Armistice came before the plant really started and so, instead of repair and refurb and back to the front line, they started to sell them privately. Something very similar happened after WWII when Ex-military vehicles were sold off to private road hauliers.

So, in a way, this shot is quite fitting, as Slough Estate No.3 is trundling alongside a road, in the midst of an Industrial estate, a museum exhibit, in a country were road transport has supplanted the railway as the major carrier of goods traffic. When the Middleton Railway frst began operating, in 1960, they were moving train loads of scrap metal out of Clayton’s and Robinson & Birdsall’s scrap yard to a transfer with BR, at the point where the Balm Road branch enters the Midland line just to the Leeds side of Stourton. Not many preservationists can claim to have run regular freight workings.

Slough Estate No.3 is a Hudswell Clarke, of 1924 vintage, she spent 50 years at work on the Slough Estate but, she was built around a half a mile from where this photograph is taken, at Hudswell Clarke’s works in Jack Lane.

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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In the beginning

I noticed, in a comment on Friday, that it was the anniversary of the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, which took place on 15th September 1830, this contraption, the ‘Steam Elephant’ was puffing about around Wallsend – on – Tyne 15 years earlier, in 1815, and ten years prior to the opening of the Stockton & Darlington in 1825. Not this exact one of course, this is a modern day replica.

In 1813 William Hedley, along with Johnatan Forster and Timothy Hackworth constructed ‘Puffing Billy’ and ‘Wylam Dilly’ to work coal hoppers, over the waggonway, from Wylam Colliery to Lemington – on – Tyne. The really wonderful thing about these engines is that both of them survive, Puffying Billy, at the Science Museum and, Wylam Dilly, at the National Museum of Scotland. There’s a working replica of ‘Puffying Billy’ at Beamish Open Air Museum, as can be seen in the photo below.

Despite appearances Puffying Billy was a pretty robust piece of kit remaining in service until 1862 when she was first loaned and then sold to the Patent Office – subsequetly the Science Museum.  Going back a little further, to 1809, and we come to Richard Trevithick’s ‘Catch me who can’. Trevithick is a fascinating character who deserves greater recognition for his achievements and pioneering spirit. ‘Catch me who can’ was a sort of fair ground attraction and an attempt to raise cash. It ran on a circle of track and ‘riders’ paid a shilling a go – a tidy sum in 1809.

There’s a modern day replica of  ‘Catch me who can’, which was, when I photographed it, at the Severn Valley Railway’s terminus at Bridgnorth.

‘Catch me who can’ wasn’t Trevithick’s first engine, he had built one in 1803/4 for the Pen – y – Darren iron works and his ‘Puffing Devil’, a steam powered road carriage, ran for the first time, in 1801. Two hundred and sixteen years on from that and we’ve gone from all of the above to Maglev trains that can travel at 350mph, not 3.5mph.

I know nothing about the head swinging from the gibbet!!

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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70A – Learning the ropes

It was the Spring of 1963 when I walked down Brooklands Road to book-on for my first day at Nine Elms – I had arrived there via spells at Farnley Junction and Stewarts Lane, so I wasn’t new to the job. After booking-on, at the time office, just inside the main gate, it was a short stroll to the driver’s lobby and mess room inside the ‘new’ running shed. For the next three years this was to be my home from home.

Nine Elms, in 1963, was a busy, bustling, place with an eclectic mix of motive power. The depot’s compliment of working locos ranged from Bulleid’s Q1 Class 0-6-0 ‘Charlies’ through Maunsell’s S15 4-6-0s and Moguls, (known to many as U-Boats or Woolies and by some as Mongolipers/Mongolifers?). Then there were Riddles’ Standards of several different classes, in both tank and tender varieties, and on to the ‘top of the range’ Bulleid ‘Light’ Pacifics  and his 8P Merchant Navy Class. In the back roads, ‘out of use’, there were Maunsell’s Schools class 4-4-0s and Drummond M7 tank engines.

The duties this range of motive power undertook were as varied as the engines themselves, ECS movements from Clapham Carriage Sidings to Waterloo, trip goods workings over the Chessington branch, fitted freights to and from Nine Elms Goods or Feltham Yard. Then there were the hurtling down the main line turns, with crack expresses, like the Royal Wessex, Bournemouth Belle, and Atlantic Coast Express, which were all in a day’s work for Nine Elms men. There was even the ‘Kenny Belle’ a special train for Post Office workers between Clapham Junction and Kensington Olympia – a turn often entrusted to one of Riddles’ tank engines.

After booking on, I had to see the running shed foreman on duty at the time, a gentleman by the name of Ted Edgington, as I recall. Mr. Edgington, I came to discover, was a very knowledgeable chap especially when it came to Greyhounds – and no I don’t mean Drummond’s T9 Class. It was time to find out what link I was in and who was to be my new regular mate. Link position was determined by seniority, (everything on the railway worked on seniority),  and it turned out that my seniority date had initially placed me in Link 4 as fireman to driver Fred Walker, he didn’t know what to expect and I had a lot to learn.

Although I had been at work on the railway for over a year my footplate experience was fairly limited. At Farnley Junction, as a passed-cleaner, I had worked; station pilot, the shed shunter turn which included a trip goods down the Leeds Fireclay branch, a few dozen freight workings between Copley Hill Yard and Hillhouse Goods and a dozen or two cross-Pennine freights to places such as Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne.

It will come as no surprise to learn that trundling twenty miles with a loose coupled goods train, or working station pilot, bears no comparison with a fast commuter service between London and Basingstoke. My previous experience of passenger workings amounted to a trip from Tunbridge Wells to London Bridge, one Saturday morning, during my brief stay at Stewarts Lane. This duty was, if memory serves, about five coaches, at a leisurely pace, with a couple of station stops thrown in for good measure. The motive power was one of Maunsell’s 2-6-0s either an N or U1 class; I don’t remember which. I do remember arriving at London Bridge with enough fire to get over Shap and the driver doing his best to blast it away on route back to Stewarts Lane. Proof, if ever it was needed, of the importance of route knowledge.

My first real taste of the South Western mainline was on one of Link 4’s ‘regular’ turns the 7.54pm service from Waterloo to Basingstoke, calling at Woking and then all stations to Basingstoke. The usual motive power for these turns was either a ‘Standard Arthur’ or its baby sister the Standard Class 4MT. My first few runs with the 7.54pm were a steep learning curve – and there were several instances where both steam and water were at a premium. If nothing else it had shown me the limitations of my experience – enthusiasm, whilst it may be welcome, is no substitute.

Driver Walker had no idea how green I was and I wasn’t about to enlighten him. To the uninitiated coal is coal, it’s black and dusty and makes a lot of smoke and ash when you burn it. In the tenders of the Stanier Black 5s, Crabs, Jinties, Jubes, and the ‘Dubdees’ that I’d fired whilst at Farnley Junction the coal was ‘hard’, (Anthracite), Yorkshire coal, shiny, and easy to crack along the seams using the coal pick. This type of coal is quick to ignite and is relatively fast burning; features which distinguished it from the coal in the tenders of engines coming off-shed at Nine Elms. The coal at Nine Elms was ‘soft’, (Lignacite), coal and it has very different characteristics, with important consequences for the way you fire the locomotive. Soft coal is slow to ignite, as it burns it swells to a slightly cauliflower like appearance and then burns away much more slowly than hard coal. Soft coal is also more prone to clinkering and could become a problem if the engine was worked hard followed by spells of relative inactivity – which allowed the clinker to set on the firebars cutting down the air supply to the fire.

 These factors make it much easier to create a ‘green’ fire with ‘soft’ coal. (A ‘green fire’ is the result of adding layers of coal on top of coal which itself is not properly ignited.) On the printed page these seem like trifling differences – out on the mainline they are the difference between steam and no steam.  Differences in types of coal were only part of the learning curve, getting to know when and where the engine was going to be worked was another vital element. For example, when getting away from the permanent slack through Clapham Junction station and climbing up the cutting through Earlsfield to Wimbledon the engine would be being worked quite hard, 35% or 40% cut-off and full regulator, accelerating the train away from the slack through Clapham Junction and tackling a short climb up through Earlsfield towards Wimbledon. After passing Wimbledon and travelling on towards Raynes Park cut-off would be shortened to 25% to 30% thus reducing the demand for steam, softening the beat, and lowering the pull on the fire.

Knowing when and where demands were going to be made on the boiler is not absolutely vital if the engine is steaming freely but, when things are not going to plan, this knowledge is the difference between stopping for a ‘blow-up’ and keeping going. Gaining this sort of knowledge only comes from having to deal with these circumstances and travelling the route time and time again. My early learning with Driver Walker avoided having to stop for a ‘blow-up’ but the margins were pretty thin on a couple of occasions.

There were other things which affected steaming, how long the engine had gone since its last boiler ‘wash-out’ and how long it had been in service since the fire had last been cleaned and  how full of ash the smokebox was. The way the driver drove the engine also altered the way the engine steamed. The Standard Arthurs, like the Black 5’s they were modelled on, enjoyed being worked with around twenty to twenty five percent cut-off using the regulator to moderate the power supply to the cylinders. Having too short a cut-off could result in a lack of draw on the fire, reducing its heat and lowering steam raising capability.

Having ‘survived’ my first couple of outings on the 7.54pm ‘down’ I slowly began to get the hang of things. One of the first lessons I learned was making sure that the fire was prepared properly before going off shed. The trick was to take time to build the fire up slowly, making sure that all the coal was well alight before adding more. Keeping spare boiler water capacity was helpful as this meant that you could await the right-away at Waterloo with the blower on, getting everything on the boil before the off and being able to top up the boiler water to prevent excess blowing-off. Thus when the lights went green and the guard blew his whistle you had 3/4qtrs of a glass of water and, if you’d done everything right, a well made fire burning through nicely.

That all makes it seem very simple, Boys Own Annual stuff, rattling rails and the flashing blade. Clunk, reality check! You’re with some bloke you hardly know, you’re a bit nervous, things aren’t going well, steam pressure is falling. Stopping for a ‘blow-up’ isn’t what you need, it creates delay and generates a ‘please explain’ or ‘No.1’ form for the driver to answer, a lost time ticket from the guard for good measure. It can also mean you have to get off the engine and trek to the nearest trackside phone or signal box to tell the bobby why you’ve stopped – all a bit embarrassing really. You know all this, as the sweat, quite literally, drops from the end of your nose, as you struggle, with shovel, dampers, and injectors, to keep steam pressure high enough to prevent the brakes from coming on.

The gap between the romance and the reality seldom becomes wider than it does at 3.0a.m on a freezing cold, wet, and windy, morning, struggling to keep steam up, see boiler water levels by the light of a guttering paraffin gauge lamp, all whilst trying to pull coal forward because it’s half-way back in the tender. Let’s not forget the charm of a week on P&D work, ( preparing and disposing), 42.5 hours, maybe more if there was overtime, which there usually was, of; cleaning fires, emptying smokeboxes, raking ashpans, coaling up, building fires from a few ‘cinders’ in some cases. Carrying buckets of sand to fill the sand boxes, checking fire irons and finding them if they were missing, as they commonly were. Then you can add making numerous trips to the stores for oil, paraffin, detonators, lamps / discs, for each engine you ‘prepared’.

The mess room door would open and the running shed foreman would tell you, ‘the next 4 on the pit are yours’. If your luck was in they’d all have rocking grates, or at least dropgrates, if not it was the long paddle, some serious sweat, and possibly the odd burn if you weren’t careful. On windy days the smokebox char flew everywhere, so did the coal dust and ashes, a couple of hours into your shift and you looked like an extra from the Black & White Minstrels, not a lot of romance here.

The real nature of railway work was that you’d haul a dozen coaches, filled with passengers, who had entrusted their very lives to your care, who would tip the waiter who served their wine and walk past you without some much as noticing you were there. Apart from a very few crew, at a very limited number of depots, railway work was anonymous toil. There’s only one Bournemouth Belle or Royal Wessex but hundreds of shunting, trip goods, and sundry other minor duties every day, unseen, unsung.

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 way they were

A couple of years ago I was given several boxes of ‘old’ photographs, mostly of locomotives with a  Scottish allocation / origin. However, in the boxes were a number of photos of A3s, including this one of No.2595 Trigo, later No.60084 Trigo. The legend on the back of the 6 x 4 postcard print reads, ‘entering Grantham on up Flying Scotsman’. It  is Published by Photomatic, the photographer isn’t named. There’s no date but my guess would be pre-war but, not by much, maybe 1936 /37. No.2595 Trigo entered service in February 1930 and was withdrawn, as BR No.60084 Trigo, in November 1964.

Coincidently, No.60084 Trigo, is one of those engines I remember from my own 1950s school days, when she was a regular on the ‘4 o’clocker’ through Burley Park, in Leeds, on the route to Harrogate. In 1955, according to my Locoshed Book she was allocated to Neville Hill, she was still sheded there, in the 1961 edition, which recently came into my possesion. Neville Hill was 50B in 1955, in 1961 it was 55H.

The guard, trudging up the platform, with his traps, and the fireman ‘posing’, in his seat add a nice human touch to the proceedings. However, what isn’t clear is whether the engine is moving, the caption and fireman’s pose would indicate the train was stood, or was about to stop. If it is stationary, presumably it is for signals, as in my understanding the ‘Flying Scotsman’ ran non-stop.

Later this week I will be posting a feature length Blog about my first few weeks at 70A – so if you like a ‘footplate tale’ – keep your eyes open!!

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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Green Ivatt Black Riddles

I never imagined, three years ago, when I began writing ‘Steamagedaydreams’, that I would be having ‘online’ conversations with train drivers and railwaymen from Russia, the Philpines, Argentina, Australia, and Kenya, as well as those from Britain. It has, as they say, been an interesting and eye opening journey.

The universality of the railway, both as a means of transport and, for some of us, an enduring hobby too is, surely, one of the more positive aspects of an increasingly dystopian looking future.  The Great Central Railway’s ‘Bridge to the Future’ has, in recent days taken a major leap forward – with the new bridge being craned into position. On the locomotive front, one more of the ‘in Ex-Barry condition’ engines is back in steam with the return of former BR Class 5 4-6-0, No.73156.

No.73165 is, for the up coming GCR tribute to the ‘End of Southern steam’, going to be renumbered as No.73084 Tintagel, which, I know isn’t to everyone’s liking but, for me it will be a bit of a treat. No.73084 Tintagel was a Nine Elms engine, during the years when I worked there and an engine I fired on numerous trips.

Later this week I will be posting a feature length Blog about my first few weeks at 70A – so if you like a ‘footplate tale’ – keep your eyes open!!

In the photo we see Ivatt 2-6-0 No.46521 piloting Riddles 2-6-0 No.78018 making a ‘getaway’ from Loughborough during last year’s Autumn Gala.

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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NE Brew Up

On Thursday, I posted a film about ‘how to fire a Black 5’, in copybook style,  it was narrated by a posh bloke and there were added sound effects. The ‘Steam Locomotive Enginemen’s Handbook’, issued to me when I started work on BR, tells the same tale, small amounts, of fist sized lumps, to the bright spots and repeat as required. The men who taught me how to fire a Black 5, were firemen, at the same time as the film was made, what they taught me was very different from what the narrator, or the handbook,  was saying.  That’s the thing isn’t it, watching / reading  is one thing, doing is another.

There’s always plenty of banter on Facebook, when pictures are posted, showing engines making copious amounts of thick black smoke. One of the usual comments is, ‘inexperienced fireman’ – a brief trawl through photos and films, of steam at work, over the decades, would indicate that a lot of ‘inexperienced firemen’ worked the Mid-day Scot, Cornish Riviera Express, Talisman, and the Bournemouth Belle, many of these firemen had been ‘inexperienced’ for 15 years and more.

The fireman’s task is, generally, difficult enough and human nature being what it is, if the job can be made easier then that will be the course chosen. It was considered a no-no to make ‘excessive smoke’ whist standing in the station. Having said that, if you were having a rough time with a steam shy engine – a ‘brew up’, with the blower hard on and ‘lots of smoke’, would often be the only option to ‘stopping for a blow-up’ a few miles down the line. And believe me, on this one – I have the sweaty T-shirt.

Next week I will be posting  a feature length blog about my own ‘learning the ropes’ – so keep your eyes open for that one, if you enjoy a ‘footplate tale’.

The photogaph shows Ex-LNER B1, No.61264, ‘brewing up’ in Goathland Station on the NYMR.

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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Down by the river

Strangely, for a mainly goods depot and with both Black 5s and Jubilees on the allocation, my first shed, Farnley Jct., didn’t have any 8Fs.   There were ‘visitors’ from places like Heaton Mersey or Newton Heath, possibly from even further afield but, none on the books. My own outings on them were during a very brief loan spell at Stourton and at Wakefield. I had two turns, as I recall, at Stourton, one was all round the houses in Leeds which included a trip over to Neville Hill; the other, a Carlisle bound mixed goods, from Stourton yard, to Skipton, where we were relieved – the back working was a diesel, a Type 2 Bo-Bo, with a parcels train – heady stuff.

David Smith must really like his 8F, No.48151, because he’s kept her in main line condition for quite some time now – give or take, she’s been out and about on the main line for 30 years, minus time out for overhauls. In the 1990s she hauled a 975 ton train of hopper wagons whilst on loan at Tunstead Quarry and in 2000 she hauled a train of loaded hoppers over the S&C to Carlisle, from Ribblehead Quarry.

In the photo above she is hauling the snappily titled ‘Scenic Carlisle Express II’ and is seen alongside the river Ribble, at Helwith Bridge, between Stainforth and Horton – in – Ribblesdale.

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 Ghost Train

Over fifty years ago, in 1965, the scene at Waterloo, before the departure of the 2.45am ‘Bournemouth’ papers was quite a spectacle. Fleets of newspaper vans in the varied liveries of their day; Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Financial Times, Guardian and Telegraph, but not the Sun, which wasn’t being published under this banner in 1965, would be coming and going disgorging their contents onto barrows, marshalled like trains. Tons of newsprint off loaded  into the waiting vans of the paper train, where, just like the mails in the TPO, gangs of men sorted, labelled, and re-packed the lot, as the train rolled through the night.

The 2.45am ‘Weymouth’ paper train, was not the most popular of turns it has to be said and absenteeism, by the young firemen, was not uncommon. I myself enjoyed the turn and, on occasions, I was able to swap with the booked fireman – particularly if my shift was a day turn. The 2.45am papers was a turn usually entrusted to a Bulleid Pacific, and frequently a Merchant Navy, the return working, from Bournemouth West, was almost always a ‘Packet’. On one especially memorable occasion the engine was No.35004 Cunard White Star and we were to be joined on the footplate, from Southampton, by an engineer from Swindon Works.

No. 35004 Cunard White Star was unusual amongst her class in as much as she steamed best with a light bright fire rather than being ‘boxed up’ under the door and in the back corners of the firebox, which was the ‘common’ method of firing on these engines. However, if she was fired light and bright, a half dozen or so well placed shovel-fulls would put up a white feather. From Southampton up to Worting Junction is the most difficult section of the return working from Bournemouth – with the section from Winchester, our final stop, up past Micheldever to Roundwood Box being one continuous slog. Our footplate visitor was treated to a display of copy-book firing – more by accident than design I should add. 35004’s penchant for light, tight and bright was not the only accident as I was also with my regular three link mate ‘Sooty’ Saunders – though this was not a three link duty.

The route from leaving Southampton Central is fairly leisurely round St. Denys to Eastleigh, where the line straightens and the long climb to Roundwood begins. Sooty and I had already decided beforehand we would ‘entertain’ our guest and as we passed Eastleigh Works and the MPD, Sooty put the handle in the roof. Charging through Eastleigh station the rockets were really beginning to fly, our speed climbing into the upper sixties as we passed Shawford Box, heading for our final stop at Winchester. However, the real show was yet to come – leaving Winchester is where the continuous against the collar gradient really begins to create some ‘chimney chatter’  – almost eleven miles with a ruling gradient of 1 in 250 from a standing start with a train of approximately 450 tons and next stop Waterloo.

By the time we passed Winchester Junction two miles out from Winchester station it was time to put the second injector on as Sooty had No. 4 in full second valve and 35% cut-off – even the normally soft beat Bulleid coughs a little when being driven along like this. The engineer from Swindon was sitting in my seat, not that there was much chance to sit down as firing was now almost continuous. By Wallers Ash our speed was rising sixty – no firing through the tunnel, just time to watch the rockets hitting the tunnel roof and enjoy a lid of tea before starting to shovel again for the last five miles up to Litchfield. Once the summit has been reached the road to Waterloo is mostly easy running, a little hump between Farnborough and milepost 31 – a pull away from the pws at Clapham Jct is about as tough as it gets. Apart from keeping the footplate clean and sprinkling a few shovels full round every now and then the graft is really over once you passed Worting Jct. It would have been very interesting to have been a fly on the wall when the engineer from Swindon returned to the home of the Great Way Round to tell of his footplate trip on one of Mr. Bulleid’s Pacifics.

The paper train has long since passed into history, TNT saw to that, and their recreation in preservation has yet to happen – but for more than a century these trains put the Times on the table for breakfast – now only the ghosts remain.

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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Flour Graders

In 1960s Britain, one of the big scandals of the day was the Profumo affair – it was the usual salacious nonesense involving a Government Minister, call girls / models, a Russian Attache, and military secrets. The girls, Mandy Rice Davies and Christine Keeler became headline news, with their photographs in all the ‘rags’. I, on the other hand. was stoking engines, like, and including, the one above, between Waterloo and points South and West.

Amongst the regular duties for Nine Elms men were the 2 hour services to and from Bournemouth .  One of these workings, which I enjoyed my fair share of, was the 07:20 from Bournemouth to Waterloo, last stop Winchester.  The down working was the 02:45 ‘paper train’  and going through the New Forest on a misty Autumn morning was always a treat. It was on the 07:20, at the height of the scandal, that the girls in question, travelled up from Southampton to Waterloo – I was the fireman  – they didn’t even blow us a kiss.

Yes but, ‘what about the flour graders’, I hear you say. Well, McDougall’s Flour began an ad-campaign based on ‘Fred the Flour Grader’ who was a black suited figure with a white shirt and bowler hat – a plastic, advertising replica, of the figures who lined the platforms at Bournemouth, Brockenhurst, Southampton, and Winchester, to board the 07:20. You would see them standing on the same spot each day, the same faces, bowlers, and brief cases.  If I was on the turn with my regular mate ‘Sooty’ Saunders we would, sometimes, give the ones at Winchester a ‘shower’.

The shower worked like this; full boiler, on the red line, shut off at the last minute, safety valves open, stop with a jerk and the safety valves will pick up water from the surge – and produce a mini shower!! Naughty I know but, it was funny watching them cover their hats with the morning paper or their brief case, in a most undignified manner.

The Photo shows Ex-SR B-o-B Class 4-6-2 No.34053 Sir Keith Park almost at the summit of Eardington bank on the Severn Valley 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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It’s all gone mono

I’ve shared a few old Black & White documentaries or Pathe news clips recently and I have enjoyed some great amateur footage, on one or two other Facebook groups, all of which have brought back memories of my own youth and footplate work during the same sort of period – the final years of steam on British Railways.

Early 60s Britain was still a black and white world, tele was black and white,  in the cinema, black & white Pathe or Gaumont newsreels were shown, before the main movies began; gents wore black / charcol grey suits, white shirts, and black shoes, cars were almost all black ones – the only coloured bits were the ‘Pink un’ or the ‘Green un’, which carried the football results – no lottery then. Then, it was all about ‘winning the pools’ – 8 score draws -and Jackpot!! When I started at Farnley Jct. we had a ‘shed pool’ – it was a few pennies a week, everyone had a team and prizes were given for the highest score, most goals scored over a month, that sort of thing – it was just a bit of fun really.

Black faced miners were still digging coal and black faced firemen were still burning it. Tall mill chimneys and those of most houses still poured black smoke into the sky – on drab, cold, grey, winter days it hung in the air – ‘pea-soupers’ they called them, fog so thick it was impossible to drive in – and fog signalmen turned out to keep the railway moving – today it seems not so much a different world as a different planet.

The photo shows Ex-BR Class 9F 2-10-0 No.92214 departing from Loughborough with a train of mineral empties, in a recreation of what railwaymen knew as ‘runners’ and which the enthusiasts dubbed ‘windcutters’.

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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